by Nori Gale
FinTech Magazine Met With Greg Sassone to Discuss COVID’s Impact on Payments
Among the many disruptions caused by the global pandemic in which we find ourselves is a change in how corporations do business. For WEX, this has had an impact on the way potential partners see themselves engaging in payments in a post-COVID reality.
In a recent podcast, FinTech Magazine sat down with WEX’s Greg Sassone, Senior Vice President of Business and Partner Growth to discuss. They talked about the key technology trends driving change to digital payments, challenges surrounding security within Fintech, and how working from home has unearthed a need for automation.
With over 20 years of experience within the financial industry, Sassone brings a breadth of experience in the payments industry through his work for Citibank, Mastercard, and now WEX. At Mastercard Sassone worked for the commercial product team, focusing on the small business segment. He began at WEX in 2016, managing product development and collaborative innovation. He enjoys the process of thinking through the end user’s needs and pain points, developing value propositions, and working with development teams to build really good technology.
In a bit of a departure from Product, Sassone’s current role at WEX involves managing business development and creating key strategic partner opportunities. Having the product background in this quickly evolving segment has proven to be an advantage for Sassone in his new role as WEX Corporate Payments shifts gears to focus on integration opportunities in the marketplace.
Transformation in the FinTech Sector Due To COVID
On the FinTech podcast, Sassone discussed transformation in the fintech sector, how rapidly change has occurred, and what key trends have been driving change in the world of payments. He talked about the $25 trillion in B2B payments in North America alone and the fact that a vast majority of that money is still transacted using paper checks.
The Search for More Efficient Ways to Manage B2B Payments
Sassone then discussed how for years the industry has been looking for more efficient ways to manage B2B payments. Using technology, automation, and digitization, payments are moving us away from a need for paper checks. With COVID and the remote nature of work today, Sassone says “there is now a spark around the adoption of that technology. The check is very manual and people-intensive which doesn’t work as well with a remote workforce.”
Technologies Driving Virtual Payments Evolution
Sassone shared what technologies are driving this change to enable virtual payments. As he described it, “Virtual card payments have been a product that has caught on over the last couple of years globally. It’s essentially a single-use card tied to a very specific transaction. There are controls on the card. There are data and reconciliation on the transaction. It runs over the card rails which makes it secure. And the payment is real-time.” He goes on to say, “There has been a ton of innovation over the last decade and particularly over the last couple of years around the virtual card and embedding a virtual card into different workflows in order to make things more efficient.”
How Remote Work Has Impacted Payments
On the FinTech Magazine podcast, Sassone discussed the biggest impact remote work has had on payments and the main changes COVID has brought. And through the lens of the evolution journey, he discussed how COVID has impacted the adoption of virtual payments.
He describes the largest barrier to adopting virtual payments prior to COVID was the inertia within corporations to scrap processes that weren’t broken for new processes: it was hard to convince an AP department to make the leap to a new payment tool when they did not perceive the gains as significant enough for the effort involved. With COVID-19 impacting the way we work, we are experiencing heightened interest from corporations on adapting payment processes catering to the remote workforce. The move to digitize makes more sense now than ever before.
Sassone talked in the podcast about AP automation and a drive to make adoption more seamless for companies who are entrenched in dated legacy software, platforms, and processes. “Using API connectivity to get real-time integrations into those systems allows us to embed AP into a workflow or front end in which an AP department is working. This has been and will continue to be a huge focus for WEX.”
Industries Ripe for Change in Payment Technology
The discussion shifted to what industries are ripe for this kind of change and Sassone stressed the diversity of industry segments that would fit that profile, with corporate accounts payable being a distinct stand-out. He explained, “For WEX it’s been an evolution. We are hyper-focused on the technology. We have totally insourced all of our technology. We own platforms and services end-to-end. We also own a bank so it allows us to do a lot of things directly. We’re a direct issuer of cards on both the card networks. The corporate accounts payable segment is really an opportunity for us to take our technology, and our platforms and offer it to partners who want to go to market either from a payables standpoint or in other verticals. We’re a behind-the-scenes provider or enabler of partners.”
Security in the Payments Industry
Security in the payments industry was another topic covered during the podcast. As Sassone described it, “At WEX because we are a bank ourselves, we’re very familiar with the securities and compliance and regulation that’s required. We also partner with a dozen banks that have similar thresholds for security and privacy. We’ve been working in this environment for a really long time and know it really well so we’ve built all of the security and fraud protections into all the platforms we own, manage, and operate because it is that important. And it’s going to continue to be that important.”
FinTech Magazine has a reach of 13,692 unique monthly visitors and is a ‘Digital Community’ for the banking, payments, and financial services industries that highlight their most senior executives with the latest trends as the finance industry pivots towards technology and digital transformation.
Learn more about how WEX payment solutions can be tailored to your business, so you can operate easier and faster while creating lasting growth and success.
To hear the entire discussion, listen on Spotify.
You can also listen on Apple podcasts.