Payments, Podcasts

WePay’s Jennifer Parker: ‘We’re seeing inspiring early pivots with software firms and marketplaces’

  • WePay provides payment APIs to ISVs and marketplaces.
  • CRO Jennifer Parker joins us on the podcast to discuss initiatives she's leading during the crisis.
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WePay’s Jennifer Parker: ‘We’re seeing inspiring early pivots with software firms and marketplaces’

WePay provides payment solutions for platforms like marketplaces and software firms. The Chase-owned company provides payment APIs to firms like Eventzilla, Meetup and TouchBistro.

Chief revenue officer Jennifer Parker joins us on the podcast to give us an update on the business and to discuss how platforms and their merchants are coping during the current crisis. We hear about how WePay has supported its ecosystem with products and services throughout this tumultuous time. Jennifer also shares with us her biggest priorities heading into the second half of 2020.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Career path

I am the Chief Revenue Officer for WePay, a Chase company. A little bit about me, Zack: I am a Midwest girl, moved south to Houston, and stayed far longer than I thought I would. I then relocated to the Bay Area about two years ago.I’ve been with JPMorgan for approximately 10 years now and joined the WePay team post-acquisition in late 2018.

So as the CRO, I am responsible for anything that touches our prospecting clients. So for us, that’s marketing, sales, relationship management, that’s our technical integrations and most importantly, our partner success, as well as aligning the firm backto the broader JPMorgan.

WePay value proposition

WePay was acquired by JPMorgan in late 2017. And WePay offers integrated payment solutions to software platforms and ISVs in areas such as restaurant retail point of sale, professional services, and field management services.

And over the past couple of years, we’ve really spent quite an investment in our card-present technology to accommodate some of our multi-channel shopping in payments as well as address merchants’ needs to accept payments on the move. It’s super important now as more and more merchants need to be on the move. But as you think about it, if you are a small restaurant that’s moved to catering services, let’s say, and you now need to be able to accept mobile payments, you can do that. If you also a hairstylist that is no longer able to operate in your salon and you want to take payment while doing hair or other salon services on the go, you can do so.

Business during the pandemic

It’s tough right now with the pandemic. It’s super unfortunate — my heart breaks as we are talking to merchants and platforms every day where you’ve got these business owners that have completely poured their entire life savings and passion into these businesses that may or may not make it post-this.

And as a daughter of a dad, who was a small business owner the majority of my life, I saw him go through a crisis and saw the impact that had on his business. It is just really tough. But what we’re witnessing specifically with these ISVs, and these software platforms, we saw some early pivots, which was really kind of inspiring. We saw a restaurant point of sale solution within weeks launch a free online delivery service for their merchants, for their restaurants. We saw an events platform do an early pivot, where they quickly set up a whole new product offering around virtual events.

State of small business

And with their permission, we were able to share some of these best practices and learnings because as many know in the early days of this, everyone was just trying to figure out what the new norm was going to look like and what to do and how to survive. What’s interesting is that we launched the State of Small Business Payments Survey in February, so timing wasn’t great, just pre-COVID.

But what we found in these full results — which come out later this week — is that these small businesses or merchants that are served by these ISVs have less access to liquidity, in terms of their own capital, or third party financing. And so the number one thing that came out of that was the concern of the speed of payments and how critical that is. Almost 40% reported that they faced speed of payments as an issue in the last 12 months. And that’s pre COVID. We can only imagine today what that looks like.

We’ve always been focused on accelerating our deposit availability with our same day deposits for businesses that work with Chase plus WePay to get the funds the same day without fees. As we’ve heard from the platforms and the merchant how important their access to cash is right now you imagine a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday that does have sales, especially now, how it’s even more important that they have access to those funds immediately at no additional fees.

A new normal

I think it is a new normal. The thing is that some of the trends that we expected to see in five years period of time have been expedited by COVID. If you think about contactless payments and the point of sale space, if you think about the need for digital wallets, those type of trends that we are planning to start seeing have just been expedited by this. This whole theory behind the death of cash that we thought would take years, not months — we’re starting to see those behaviors now.

I do think we’ll stabilize: restaurants will reopen, retail providers will be able to reopen in brick and mortar, fashion may look a lot different. So they’re redoing their their business models to really determine how they bring in customers in a safe way. How do they retain these customers? And how do they create an experience that’s going to allow them to continue to grow?

WePay initiatives

We invested for the last couple years in our card present capabilities, to support the multi channel approach, be able to accept mobile payments, in-person and online. We spent a lot of time around that. W’ve got three strong products — Link, Clear and Core — that really allow an ISV to grow with us.

Our Link product offering gives our strategic partners access to our Chase distribution channels, which great. You think about Chase’s reach: we’ve got approximately 4 million small to medium sized businesses that currently bank with Chase. We have another 5100 Chase branches. Chase is in one of every two US households. It’s the number one credit card issuer. Chase.com is the number one visited financial website. So if you think about that entire ecosystem, we’re able to expose some of that to our strategic partner ISVs that are looking to really leverage that.

We also have another product that will allow our software platforms to white label solutions if they want to really own that end merchant, the end customer.

And then our third product is where we’re able to solve for platforms that want to become a payment facilitator. So they are able to take on everything end to end. And we’re able to support them in their quest to do that.

And I guess scrl like how do you partition time energy efforts towards those different kind of channels and products?

Integrating with Chase

Our headline is ‘payments that you can bank on’, which really speaks to that thesis of the bank plus the ISV will be the future of small business acquisition. We found that approximately 65% of small businesses said they have a large interest in a bank plus a software platform as a one size fits all solution for their business needs. And so we absolutely are looking at ways that we can partner our clients with the large backing of a global financial provider with the innovative technology and tech stack that WePay has.

Same-day deposits is one of the first things that we launched in this partnership. We’ll continue to look at players like Shopify, Square, and PayPal, that are doing much more and exposing financial services through their platforms. We believe that’s really a driver of our acquisition. And so we absolutely will continue to look at other ways to do that in the future that we believe will disrupt some traditional models that once existed.

Diversity and inclusion

We have a heavy focus on diversity and inclusion. One of the most eye opening things for me as a black woman in a C-suite role in fintech is under representation. You hear about it until you actually walk in, step into a role and really understand how underrepresented we really are. It’s kind of eye opening.

Outside of it just being important that we provide equal opportunity because it’s the right thing to do, we know — and the data shows — that diverse teams drive better business results. It creates a stronger overall org. And so because of that, there’s a couple of ways we’re thinking about that and doing that over the past few years. We decided late last year that we were going to double our black and Latinx new hires, or sourcing talent out of historically black colleges and universities.

We’re looking to coding academies and black alumni groups from other colleges and universities to really make sure that we retain and obtain the best talent that we possibly can find.

And then lastly, we’re partnering real closely with our larger JPMorgan DNI initiatives as well. In early 2019, the firm stood up Advancing Black Pathways, which is an initiative to to think about the underrepresented or underserved populations around Wealth Management careers, as well as businesses.

As I think about the rest of this year, we know we’ll build a better organization from this. We can better serve our clients, and we can help them get back on their feet post this pandemic, hopefully stronger than even before.

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