Backstage at MPC with U.S. Bank
How the payments industry can better serve its clients
U.S. Bank, a diamond sponsor of the MPC21, is the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States. The Minneapolis-based bank blends its relationship teams, branches and ATM network with digital tools that allow customers to bank when, where and how they prefer. U.S. Bank is committed to serving its millions of retail, business, wealth management, payment, commercial, corporate, and investment customers across the country and around the world as a trusted and responsible financial partner. This commitment continues to earn a spot on the Ethisphere Institute’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list and puts U.S. Bank in the top 5% of global companies assessed on the CDP A List for climate change action. Visit usbank.com for more.
Following are excerpts from our interview with Peter Gordon, U.S. Bank’s Head of Enterprise Money Movement and Business Digital Officer.
How does U.S. Bank drive commerce solutions across B2C and B2B channels?
It’s simple: connectivity through communication. We maintain a two-way feedback cycle on every project we do, and it’s more often than not initiated by the clients and prospects themselves. I’d say at the heart of this is trust. The people we work with trust that they can bring their pain points to us, and we’ll listen for both the standard headaches, and also those particular challenges that make their companies unique. Once everything is on the table, we’ll propose ways to innovate that put the client in the leadership position and our job is to make the integration as easy as possible. We’ve found that by connecting with clients to connect them to their strategy, what we’re really doing is building a digital bridge to success, together.
As you reflect on our collective digital commerce journey, what changes would you most like to see among both consumers and enterprises?
That’s a great question and it makes me wonder how much stock I should put into ‘what I’d like’ vs. ‘what I’d never expect.’ It’s a mix of both, but given the major changes we saw in commerce throughout the pandemic, and how those changes are informing entirely new ways of doing business, I tend to think about what we’ll do to foster and innovate the ‘new normal.’ What that means for U.S. Bank is we’ll continue to listen and be a trusted partner to meet our clients on their digital journeys; what that means for our clients is they will continue to realize unprecedented value through this digital relationship with their bank. We all saw the platitudes in pandemic-era advertisements – ‘we’re all in this together’ and ‘unprecedented times’ – but any good business partner knows that DIY has never been an optimal client strategy, so the bank will continue our ‘Do-it-Together’ approach and learn from client’s stories to impact the most meaningful digital innovations across the payments industry.
What are the biggest challenges facing payments industry stakeholders and how is U.S. Bank addressing these issues?
Uncertainty. But the irony is, as we saw in business innovation before the pandemic and how that has played out in the last year, disruption mitigates disruption. Our partners who undertook digital upgrades over the last few years were actually very well prepared to adjust operations and accommodate their customer’s needs when, for example, stores began to close and people started working remote. Digital payments and money movement solutions became a matter of success or failure, in a very real way. Not to sound like a fatalist, but I’m sure that the book of life reads that uncertainty will forever be the only constant. Which is great for me to be working at U.S. Bank because we’ve been helping our partners succeed in uncertainty for a very long time. There are some folks out there right now selling tech for ‘tech’s sake’ without ever having heard – let alone listened to understand – everything that makes a client or company special. So, they’ll either continue doing that and falling short of client needs, or they’ll follow our lead and really – and I mean this – put people over payments. Our industry does not exist as a lone set of products; we’re responsible for delivering outstanding customer experiences based on the way the world continues to evolve and, at the end of the day, digital innovation should literally be putting smiles on people’s faces.
How can payments industry stakeholders better serve customers, partners and clients?
Well, like I said – and I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face – ask questions and listen to the needs of customers. All customers. Your customers, their customers, and so on. Listening has got to be where client-forward innovation begins.
How is U.S. Bank helping payments industry stakeholders grow and scale by leveraging advanced technologies and best practices?
That question almost answers itself. The truth is that scalability is a huge factor in growth, so everything we’re doing here to make our clients’ businesses better is – as a Principle of design – entirely scalable so that we can assure we’re delivering what’s right for them, at the right time, then help them identify and capitalize on the emergent growth opportunities that follow. It’s … fun to see this happen and be doing it together. Every story is different, and I can think of a handful of cases in just the past year where we met a client on their digital journey and saw them succeed in ways they totally hadn’t expected. And these weren’t just Fortune-ranked companies; in fact, a lot of our community and ‘small’ business partners were able take innovation and agility to the next level, and that has gotten a lot of attention from the big corporates.
What exciting new products and services are on U.S. Bank’s near-term roadmap?
There are so many cool things we’re working on; it would blow your mind. Knowing who’s reading this, however, I obviously can’t talk about everything we’re doing to enhance payments and deliver the best customer experiences. But one thing I’m particularly excited about is a solution that closes digital latency across the entire transactional chain, meaning vendors get paid at the same time as merchants get paid. One example of how cool this is, and I’ll keep it topical … we recently celebrated Mother’s Day here in the U.S. and I was helping my daughter buy a pair of diamond earrings for my wife on a popular eCommerce platform. Well, it so happens that this merchant doesn’t actually make the diamond earrings, so they’re a broker of sorts between me and the jeweler. When I give the merchant my payment information, depending on the day of the week it could be 3-5 days before that remittance is settled, then an additional 3-5 days before the jeweler receives payment for the diamonds. This product we’re releasing at U.S. Bank solves for the latency and ensures that the jeweler gets paid at the same time the e-commerce platform does, which is the exact moment I submit my payment information. It sounds simple, and it is, but I’m truly excited about what impacts this will have on value for our clients – and entire economies – by reducing exposure, maximizing working capital, and with more security than ever before. It opens the door for new business possibilities for every stakeholder involved. In the most visceral sense consumers ought to see these innovations in terms of extra ‘working capital’ in their holiday shopping budgets. I think that’s cool, and I bet the jeweler’s mother will, too.
In any case, thank you for the time and insightful questions. I’m looking forward to engaging with everyone at MPC21 and if you want to learn more about how U.S. Bank is leading change in the payments industry please find us on the web here.
Peter Gordon, Head of Enterprise Money Movement and Business Digital Officer – U.S. Bank
Peter Gordon, Head of Emerging Money Movement at U.S. Bank, leads strategy and development for emerging money movement products and services, including Zelle and real-time payments (RTP). An RTP veteran with over 30 years of global financial services experience, Gordon joined U.S. Bank in 2019 after serving as chief revenue officer at PayFi. He has also held leadership roles at Mastercard, Santander, RBS Citizens, eCom Advisors, First Commons Bank and FIS.