IPA Executive Interview
What inspired you and/or your company to get involved with the Innovative Payments Association?
What sticks out first, and differentiates the IPA from other industry organizations, is inclusivity. The IPA represents a wide range of members within the payments ecosystem, including banks, fintechs, suppliers, providers, and processors. Given the rapidly evolving industry landscape—especially within the digital economy—the IPA represents firms and products that touch all consumers with varying levels of access to banking services.
Specifically, the IPA’s connections with card companies, banks, service providers, and processors were very compelling for my company and have been a great way for us to connect with banks and other firms, as well as with federal and state government agencies. When InComm became a member over a decade ago, our industry was navigating through the government’s response to the financial crisis, which included Dodd-Frank, the Durbin Amendment, and other major legislation and regulatory measures at the federal and state level. The IPA’s connections with lawmakers and regulators and knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process, was invaluable during those years that were so difficult for our industry and consumers.
What specific efforts have you been most involved in, and what role have you played?
InComm was not actively engaged in government affairs on either the state or federal level before we joined, and the IPA has helped us to get plugged into that process, including providing a forum for us and other IPA members to meet with key decisionmakers over the years, including former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, Representative Sanford Bishop, and various U.S. Senators and regulators—leaders at the CFPB, FDIC, and FinCEN, to name a few. Fostering as many connections as we can with federal and state lawmakers and regulators is a main area of focus for us, especially when it comes to educating them regarding various networks and payments processors, and the wide and evolving payments landscape.
Through the IPA, InComm and other IPA members have been able to meet with multiple CFPB Directors, FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, and other key staff at all major financial regulatory agencies. Given the interconnectivity within prepaid, we also prioritize meeting and partnering with other member companies to learn from them and drive the industry forward for consumers.
What has your experience been like as a member of the IPA?
Our experience has been terrific! The opportunity to meet with key legislative and regulatory officials, send joint letters alongside other influential IPA members, and tap into the IPA’s industry resources has allowed us to carry significant weight in front of key decisionmakers and given us a leg up in accomplishing policy and business priorities.
Our annual conference is something that comes to mind when I think of some of the greatest benefits of our IPA membership. Each year, the Innovative Payments Conference allows us to network with industry leaders and key decisionmakers. Past speakers have included Senator David Perdue, Representative Sanford Bishop, heads of the CFPB, IRS, and FDIC, and congressional committee chairmen. The conference offers wide-ranging opportunities for members and is always bipartisan in nature. It is also great to see the various products and services IPA members offer to consumers all over the world.
What is one thing—either payments-related or not—you learned in the last month?
Over the past month, I have reinforced my understanding of the cycle of production, influence, and efficacy within the payments ecosystem. For us, banks, networks, and payment processors interface with lawmakers and regulators who govern and control the use of our products and services. The IPA provides the bandwidth, infrastructure, and scope that brings each of these elements together in order to advance members’ priorities. From digital wallets to traditional prepaid cards to consumer-protection products and everything in between, this all gets absorbed by the IPA and disbursed to the benefit of members. Having a trade association with such broad representation carries significant weight and authority. For example, the Atlanta Fed tapped the IPA and our members for help in producing a white paper on how payments companies can become more inclusive to unbanked and underbanked Americans. Engaging in this type of research, improving financial literacy and working alongside the federal government to innovate and reach more consumers is one of the most rewarding elements of IPA membership.
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