Episode 199 – Elevating Payments to the C-Suite – Vivek Sharma, Head of Revenue and Finance Automation, Stripe

Yvette Bohanan

May 3, 2023

POF Podcast

Cloud-based platforms, machine learning that increasingly improves or eliminates routine tasks, the phenomenon of “everything” as a service – platforms that stand on their own and tech stacks that embed complex capabilities into other software with minimal coding – these are just some of the technologies reshaping what is commonly referred to as “back office” financial operations.

At the same time, these technologies are reshaping the customer journey – particularly when it comes to payments. New payment experiences facilitated by digital wallets, digital currencies, fast payment systems, and sophisticated transaction monitoring tools are increasing sales, lowering costs, enabling global expansion, unlocking new revenue streams, and speeding up settlement cycles.

However, as we know, a critical component for maximizing any technology investment is the leadership of an organization. In this case, the relationship between the payments leader and the Chief Financial Officer is front and center.

In this episode, Yvette Bohanan is joined by Vivek Sharma, Head of Revenue and Finance Automation at Stripe, to consider the importance of this relationship and how, by joining forces, these leaders can help the C-Suite achieve the organization’s broader strategic objectives.

Yvette Bohanan:

Welcome to Payments On Fire, a podcast from Glenbrook Partners about the payments industry, how it works, and trends and its evolution.

Hello. I’m Yvette Bohanan, a partner at Glenbrook and your host for Payments on Fire.

Recorded Clip – Angela Strange:

Every company now as we saw with Uber and Lyft, and Shopify, and Mindbody should be thinking about how to leverage financial services to better serve their customers, better retain their customers, and drive more margin.

Yvette Bohanan:

The clip you just heard was Angela Strange of Andreessen Horowitz, who famously predicted the importance and potential of FinTech to every business. In this episode, we’re examining how payments are playing an increasingly important role in an organization’s strategic business objectives and how this is evolving the relationship between the modern payments professional and the chief financial officer.

In today’s world more than ever, a company’s finance strategy has implications for customer experience, profitability and growth. And the same is true for a great payment strategy. So the intersection of what we would consider payments and finance is very fertile ground for improving all of these results. But all too often it’s more like two teams separated by a common set of books. That said, if you can bridge some basic understanding, the conversation can create capabilities and insights that really impact a company’s top and bottom line.

So joining me to talk about the intersection of payments and the role of the CFO and all of this potential and fertile ground is Vivek Sharma, head of revenue and financial management at Stripe. Vivek, welcome to Payments On Fire.

Vivek Sharma:

Thank you so much. My pleasure being here and I just love that tee up that you just did. Amazing.

Yvette Bohanan:

Thank you. I work really hard on those, so I appreciate that. But it’s easy to write when it’s true, and I’m sure this is some of what you’re observing and what’s inspired you to get into this. So I’m very excited to have this conversation with you. And first of all, I really want to find out how you got into the payments industry. We always say how did you fall into the payments rabbit hole? How did you land at Stripe? What was your career journey to get you to this point?

Vivek Sharma:

This is a question that I’m still getting because I only recently joined Stripe. It’s been maybe seven months, and if you told me again pointing to your excellent tee up, seven, eight months ago, that there’s so much variety and difference in these vertical business functions. In our organization, I would’ve not known anything about that. I came to Stripe specifically to lead revenue and finance automation, which is our new suite.

In fact, hilariously enough, we’ve renamed the suite since you called it lead revenue and financial management in that section, which is great by the way because the launch is this week of this new suite from Stripe. And the reason I joined is because there are so many similarities to what we’re trying to do at Stripe to what was actually a secular trend and is still a secular trend in the larger tech industry, which is the shift to the cloud.

When I was at Microsoft, I was there for a little over 16 years, and the biggest monumental thing that we saw is that the shift to the cloud wasn’t just porting things from your on-premises environment, your IT environment to a vendor in the cloud. It was actually a massive rethinking of how critical business functions work together, reprioritizing what’s important, creating connective glue and tissue across critical business functions, and then letting go of some things so you can focus in the deeper value that you have to provide to your own customers or to your own users.

So we see the same pattern in Stripe, especially we start off with payments, it introduces us to all of the finance sector as a payments leader. And as part of that, we go where our users go and our users are telling us that before payments, there’s a job to be done. After payments, there’s a job to be done. Now, you can clearly map that to business functions, but so much of the team of my work and my team’s work, and of course all of strip’s work is to complete the user journey.

It’s not sufficient to just be like, “Oh, it’s just the payments part and we’ll ignore the rest.” Because in this secular shift, just like the movement to the cloud with Office 365 a decade ago and still paying off for both the customers partners and Microsoft as a company, we believe there’s a new movement in place where these functions are coming together to derive more value together, to join hands and offer incredible value to their own businesses and leave drudgery and manual stuff behind so they can concentrate on things that really matter. Exciting time to be here, honestly, and it was a no-brainer because I’ve seen it play out once. And if you can do the pattern matching, there’s greatness ahead.

Yvette Bohanan:

Well, that’s just fascinating. You are the first person to come in and draw that comparison, but I think it makes a lot of sense and everything that cloud has unlocked, and it has unlocked a lot for payments already. I mean, if you think about it. Everything as a service and everything you all do. So that whole potential, what you’re saying though is we’re still on baby steps.

Vivek Sharma:

That’s right.

Yvette Bohanan:

We’re still at the very beginning because we’ve only done that in one specific functional area, and especially if things play out the way Angela Strange and others believe like yourself, then what we’re really saying is that connective tissue, which isn’t there yet has to be present, and that will create a whole new rethink of what’s going on. Fundamentally, I feel like going back to all first.

Vivek Sharma:

Exactly.

Yvette Bohanan:

That’s pretty interesting. So wow, you fell into that payments rabbit hole at a pretty exciting time.

Vivek Sharma:

I did. I really did.

Yvette Bohanan:

Okay. What’s new name? Just real quick before we jump into sort of dynamic we want to talk about.

Vivek Sharma:

It’s actually a notable change. So we went from revenue and financial management, which is a great name. No complaints. We retained most of it, we kept 70% of it. But we changed the management part to automation. One, it really speaks to what we’re trying to do as a company. Our job isn’t just to say, “Hey, look, there’s stuff and you should manage it. Our job is to modernize, and that’s what our users are asking us to do. They’re asking us to lift them out of this manual toil that is just surrounding them at every corner.

So automation really speaks to the value of both of the company, but the real user demand that’s coming from the market from our customers. So revenue and finance automation.

Yvette Bohanan:

Automation. Okay, got it. And automation and modernization are sort of bellwether words in the industry right now. When you talk at very, very large systemic payment infrastructure that countries are putting in place, it’s always a modernization effort. They’re always talking about digitization and automation and all that. So I think that’s kind of right there in the sweet spot with the naming. You said manual toil? Is that what you said?

Vivek Sharma:

Yeah.

Yvette Bohanan:

I can relate. I’ve been in so many organizations myself in payments ops roles where we just couldn’t get out of spreadsheets.

Vivek Sharma:

Yes, that’s exactly right.

Yvette Bohanan:

What are people telling you right now? We’re in an interesting point. What sort of manual toil are we talking about? Let’s define that a little bit and then talk a little bit about how that plays out.

Vivek Sharma:

Yup. And this is actually a good opportunity for me to double click on what we mean when we say revenue and finance automation. Very broadly, there’s lots of work to be done in a business before you get to payments, and it’s like, “What are you going to charge for,” is an important question. Not exactly how you’re going to charge. I mean, how are you going to charge is such a critical thing. Every payment leader understands how deep this topic is technically, compliance wise. But most businesses don’t even know what they’re going to charge for. And they don’t know how to change it over time.

So what ends up happening, what we’re seeing is before payments, which would typically be your billing system, your invoicing, your subscriptions, these are homegrown systems or they’re spot solutions that were bought for that one point in time. But as a business evolves, they can’t keep up.

So they have increasing demands of engineering teams of these spot solutions to keep up with the time. So a good example is we have a customer who is an auction house. It’s only in-person buying and selling of heavy farm machinery, Richie Brothers. But they’re modernizing and they’re modernizing to go to 24/7 global selling. Well, how is that going to change?

I mean as soon as I say that, you know there’s human toil involved. Because in a physical location, somebody is walking over an invoice to somebody else. Somebody else is calling it in and saying, “Has it been fulfilled? Is it partial payment? Is it payment plan?” After that, it goes to revenue recognition and reconciliation. And of course that’s complicated because you have to wait for the invoice to be fulfilled and you have to go back and check with the customer. This is all toil, endless toil.

So what we see, our role and responsibility is to connect the prepayments world to the payments world, to the post-payment world. In this week’s announcements, one of the things we’re really proud to announce is any company, we support usage and online billing models, already subscriptions, but any company that has a sales-led model where you might have your Salesforce system with a contract in it, normally you would be walking that over to your invoicing team and saying, “Okay, help me fulfill this contract.” The invoicing team is going to call the customer. They’re going to get the invoice. They’re going to get the invoice paid, and then they’re going to manually go to the accounting team and say, “Please put it in your spreadsheet.”

And of course you have to reopen and close the books as the state of the contract changes. Well, with the work that we’re doing around automation, as soon as the contract appears in Salesforce, it automatically creates the invoice. It automatically sends the invoice. It almost automatically keeps track of the invoice. Once the invoice is paid to our payment stack, reconciles and recognizes the revenue, closes the books faster. And then when it closes the books, the contract is then closed on the Salesforce side.

So no more walking over between departments. And I mean walking over literally because that’s what’s happening either through a spreadsheet that’s got sent in an email or a Slack between departments. So it’s like a night and day difference.

Yvette Bohanan:

What you’re describing in the manual example is what companies do 90% of the time still.

Vivek Sharma:

That’s right.

Yvette Bohanan:

Fully integrated solutions are super new and a lot of it is being enabled by what is often referred to as embedded commerce, but you’re really going to more of an embedded finance automation.

Vivek Sharma:

That’s right.

Yvette Bohanan:

It’s tricky. I mean if you can pull it off, it’s great. But I think part of this is when you go talk to a CFO in an organization and you start talking about monetizers, what you’re talking about here, what happens before the payment, the monetization strategy, they’re like, “Well, pricing is sales,” like you said, or pricing is the product team or whatever, go talk to them.

Vivek Sharma:

Right, exactly.

Yvette Bohanan:

Then the product team does the monetize and then they say, “Oh, well now we need the payments team to come in and help us with payments acceptance.” And then the CFO eventually gets something. Sometimes it’s automated, sometimes it’s manual, sometimes it’s a combination, and it’s very limited in terms of scope of what they’re doing. And so they still have all this manual stuff that they’ve put into place. How are CFOs approaching you with these problems? What are you hearing that’s top of mind?

I mean, we’re in this economic environment. We’ve got macro things going on with technology that are super cool and we have macro things going on with the economy right now that are kind of super scary. People are questioning their banking strategies. If you’re a CFO, you’re looking at where your money is, who has it, why, how long. You’ve got interest rates, you’ve got tighter margins, you’ve got supply chain issues. When you start talking to them about this, where does the conversation start and then where does the conversation go when you think about your comment about how people can go deeper if they get there and leave the mundane behind?

Vivek Sharma:

This is one of the really, I’m six months into the company, so I’m still singing songs, but one of the values that drew me to Stripe is how much of the company strategy is actually quite simple, which is just listen to your users. And it turns out as soon as I got here and got face-to-face with customers, it was stunning. CFOs have a seat at the table. You’d think that they would be after the contract or after the discussions on how we would bring this technology to bear. They have a seat at the table because more and more CFOs are finding themselves going beyond efficiencies.

Even if the efficiency is not there today, they are looking at the barrel of a gun called revenue generation. And even in these uncertain times, especially in these uncertain times, the demands on CFOs has just increased even more profoundly because if you think about the so-called zero interest phenomena, you can live with inefficiencies, you can live with lack of revenue generating operations because things are just happening.

But in these uncertain times, actually the demands have gone up on CFOs. And so they are at the table. In fact, they’re leading the conversation because they’re demanding the rest of the functions to get their stuff together so that by the time the revenue comes to them, the real impact is being made. So that’s first. Second is I think most of the savvy companies out there, and actually again in uncertain times, every company becomes savvy overnight because they scrutinize everything, right?

Yvette Bohanan:

That’s right.

Vivek Sharma:

They have a treasure trove of data at their disposal that they’re not using. So one of the funny things about this whole journey that you’re describing as boy, it would be amazing if we pull it off is literally what’s being demanded from our users precisely because they want to be able to take the insights, post payments, go back upstream and then tweak their business model.

It just makes common sense. You can remove some of that manual spoil through automation. It allows every function, every business function to up level. So in one fell stroke, the conversation goes from it’s not just about efficiency. Yeah, that’s like table stakes. Automate that away. Now, let’s graduate ourselves to revenue generation. And now suddenly the CFO becomes a primary party to the conversation because that’s where the real counting of the money at the end of the day, the customer contracts, the orders, the transactions, the bank accounts all come together in one place.

So it’s in some ways the most powerful part of the equation because that’s where the insights are living. And so that’s why we think about this as we could have just stopped short of payments. We could have just stopped short of prepayments. But post payments, recognizing your revenue, taking your data, putting in your own data warehouse, which is one of the options that we provide in the spirit of being interoperable and modular.

It’s like we want to be able to have businesses turbocharge beyond efficiency to actually get to revenue generation. And so I think interesting enough, this is not something that we are inventing. This is a real demand, and it’s actually quite heartwarming to see the engineering teams as what you said in the monetization, the product team, monetization folks, bring in the payments folks, bring in the CFOs.

I’ve had countless customer briefings where all three are at the same altitude in these companies. And so I think it’s a really great moment in the industry and which is why, again, I put it similar to that cloud transformation where we had the same phenomena, the IT departments coming together because it’s one single solution end to end. The real trick is just listening to your users, and that’s what we’re doing here.

Yvette Bohanan:

Let’s look at the payments leaders because you said something pretty interesting. You said that they’re all in the room together at the same altitude. And that’s not always the case. A lot of times you talk with payments professionals and they’ll say, “So-and-so signed a contract and now I’ve got to figure this out.” And they’re the ones kind of on their back foot trying to figure it out, or they changed this monetizer, built a new monetizer and nobody told me, and this isn’t going to work with this payment method because of X, Y, Z.”

You’ve got them all around the table. Besides efficiencies or what types of efficiencies and other things are you hearing from payments professionals right now? Where’s the pressure point and what’s top of mind for them?

Vivek Sharma:

The payments professionals that we obviously have great touch and contact with because that’s the core of our business at Stripe are finding themselves being the union of the front office and the back office. This is the simple way that I would describe what’s happening. And that’s exactly the way that Stripe looks at it. Payments is not a small slice of a business. Payments is the union between your front and your back office. And so our payment leaders are coming in with requirements that are both efficiency-oriented as we talked about.

It’s like, how do I help my finance teams close the books better? How do we get data to them so they can do their job better? Which is one way that you think about back office. And they’re also coming in and they’re saying, “Well, how can I accelerate the ability for us to retain customers, attract new customers?” What methodologies can we deploy to increase essentially revenue?

So that naturally brings in the front office folks. I think the thing that we are seeing more than anything else for our payments leaders is that they are the first to see the problems in an organization. I think you actually just mentioned this. You’re like, “They come to you and say there’s a contract and now I have to fulfill it.” But I think with the advent of some of these other tooling, they can actually point to a solution now. It works well and integrate it with their stack. That’s a rare thing that’s happening. I think one of the other phenomenon we’re noticing in the industry is that most companies want to get away from spot solutions precisely so that the payment leader can have a authoritative win for the organization both before payments and payments and post payments.

So you’re seeing payments leaders come up and say, “Hey, by the way, I can help you with retaining more customers by doing better acceptance from credit cards, local payment method optimization.” But shouldn’t you be looking at the way the subscriptions are being done? We’d be setting up more mails reminding people to pay sooner and better and faster. That’s a simple example.

One of the stunning things we discovered is in 2022 alone Stripe’s combination of billing and payments. Again, the product team and the payments leader working together for Stripe. We recovered something like $3.8 billion on behalf of our users through Dunning and smart retries. This is a stunning statistic. That’s a win in the payment leader column.

Yvette Bohanan:

Right.

Vivek Sharma:

Squarely in the payment leader column. So we are seeing payment leaders expand their remit and it’s very, very exciting.

Yvette Bohanan:

It’s different. Getting there can be challenging because you have to show up and you have to enable people to take the traditional payments mantle off of you and let you wear something a little bit different. I had someone remark the other day. We were talking with the payments leader at a very large eCommerce company, and this individual was very concerned with incrementality. After the conversation, someone else said to me, “I don’t understand why they’re so concerned about incrementality. That’s the sales and marketing team’s job to figure out incremental revenue.”

I said, “Yeah, no. When you’re sitting in that chair, it becomes your job and you can either lean into it and embrace it or shy away from it.” What you find is if you can lean into it with people and collaborate, you get some really fantastic results that do make the payments world a little bit easier. And you help the business in a broader way.

Vivek Sharma:

Exactly.

Yvette Bohanan:

But that’s transitional. In a lot of organizations payments is still not a thing. It’s a nebulous sort of, we have to do that in order to put money, record it in the books, but they don’t really consider it a discipline or a profession. So you have varying degrees of this across the globe and what you’re seeing is the new way of thinking and the new way of bringing this together.

Vivek Sharma:

Exactly.

Yvette Bohanan:

And it’s great. It’s very promising. I think hopefully a lot of people out there listening will take heart and say, “Hey, I can do this.”

Vivek Sharma:

Yeah, I hope so too.

Yvette Bohanan:

What does this mean for the customer, the customer journey and the customer when an organization can bond together. There’s this win-win win here, right? We’re talking about the business. We’re talking about different groups that maybe the business interacts with coming together, like their vendors and suppliers, and then you have ultimately their customer. How do you see it shaping up for those organizations that say we’re customer focused and customer first, what does that mean for their customer? Less frustration at checkout?

Vivek Sharma:

Yeah. This is actually the end value that we want to deliver is we want our own users, the businesses that we serve to up level their ability to serve their businesses and their customers and their users even better. A recent example, forgive me for the recency bias, but it’s just out there, so I might as well pick on it. Open AI had the product well before they had a monetization strategy in some ways because the product just flew off and it had product market fit once people started interacting with this thing called ChatGPT.

Yvette Bohanan:

Right.

Vivek Sharma:

So I’m sure organizationally they had to come together. There was no option. There was no divisional labor here. They have to come together to meet the demand. Actually, I think the combination of Stripe billing, Stripe payments tax, which allowed them to go global, for example, being able to have users in India be able to subscribe to ChatGPT and then recognize that revenue. It was just one set of capabilities that had to be delivered extremely fast so they could have the end-to-end experience be rock solid where somebody subscribes, it’s available in your country. You can have variety of subscription models.

They just introduced another one just recently for businesses. This is happening on almost a monthly rate. So one of the best examples that I can think of in the vein of the conversation you’re bringing forward, which is what happens to the end user, faster delivery. That’s what modernization is all about. It’s faster delivery of the latest enhancements for your own users and customers. And you can’t do that if you have manual toil and you’re in the quicksand of spreadsheets where the back office is not willing to put in a pricing change because it means that something’s going to get lost in the shuffle between departments.

But in this case in OpenAI, I mean, they have introduced a business subscription on top of their consumer subscription and the order of a month. And that wouldn’t happen if you had a rote manual process between departments shoveling paper from one place to another. So I think that the number one thing that we’re seeing from our own users, the businesses that we love to support, is that they have more rapid delivery. And that means a lot in the modern world because there’s so many options out there.

If you don’t find the best way to get the enhancements out there as fast as possible, especially for companies that are modernizing, boy, that’s that. And the second one that we’ve noticed out of this trend is just adopting modern ways of doing things because the internet continues to open up more ground. So businesses that are going from physical to online also. The Atlantic is a great example. I mean it’s, I don’t know, 150-year-old magazine and they have… I mean it’s old. I mean, somebody is going to probably send me an angry Twitter saying it’s 145 years old.

Yvette Bohanan:

Please be gentle.

Vivek Sharma:

Sorry. Yeah, please be gentle. Please be gentle. But they have a physical magazine, right?

Yvette Bohanan:

Right. They have access to their archives. They have access to Apple News. They have an online subscription. There’s a timed free trial. There’s renewal and has coupons and discounts across both physical and online. And oh boy, is it an international affair? Because they have readers now everywhere. So if the Atlantic can run with this, surely all of us should be adopting and being inspired by their example. So those are the two different things that we see loud and clear from our users on how their own customers are benefiting.

The more we’re talking, the more it strikes me that… And I’m going back to your roots. I never said this before. Your roots in cloud computing. It’s a really old thing. It’s the Atlantic and it’s a hundred and whatever years old, but your perspective that you bring to this, I imagine in that realm when you were developing the cloud solutions and architectures and bringing these different fragmented IT teams together and all that, that used to be out there that people barely remember how fragmented that is probably. It was really fragmented.

There were probably a lot of conversations that prior to cloud were like, well, we can either do this or you do that, but you can’t do both. Those sort of either/or paradigms that we get stuck in with the way things have been for a while and kind of well trodden ground of every time you try to do this, you’re going to have this unintended consequence over here and it creates that either or. We’re talking about efficiency, but now you’re talking about scale, you’re talking about revenue and growth. And oftentimes those were either or conversations in payments of finance.

You’re either going to focus on cost-cutting measures or are you going to focus on revenue growth. And now what you’re saying is if you do it a certain way, it’s going to be possible here if you squint a little bit to actually do both. And that’s kind of a brass ring that people have been after for a while in this industry and it’s been a little elusive, right?

Vivek Sharma:

Yep. I think that’s exactly right.

Yvette Bohanan:

I think the other thing that’s interesting to me is there have been some big, big companies out there who could have done this, who could still do this, honestly, not to bring up your competition. This is such a nice conversation, but I have some of my way back roots, way, way prior life routes was implementing things like Oracle and SAP, which became… Salesforce too. They’re all these sort of really big systems. They’ve got sales, they’ve got customer CRM. They were referred to as ERP.

A lot of times when we’re talking about different domains and payments, we say that it’s really hard because some of these big monolithic systems exist really hard to break into. I would say that for a lot of them, payments was like the, “Oh yeah, and we need to do this kind of moment.” And you’re starting from a different center of design. You’re saying payments are enabling commerce and we’re starting there and we’re growing out in all directions. Do you think that makes it easier or is it the fact that you have this very modern tech stack or what’s actually giving you the wood behind the arrow, if you will, to do this?

Vivek Sharma:

Yeah, that’s a beautiful layered question and a masterclass I would say because you’re going to tease out so much. First of all, we don’t even think about this as a competitor thing. That’s one of the big differences in our approach here. We believe fundamentally when you take this type of a big massive opportunity, you don’t do it alone. And so our approach fundamentally is to think about this as an ecosystem. We want to have end-to-end user journey that’s completed with Stripe in the mix, but it doesn’t have to be only us.

So the fundamental design principle of our architecture and our platform is modularity. And a good example is this week we just announced our standalone tax API. Now you’d be like, why? What’s so unique about this. Other than the fact that they support the Chicago lease tax, which I didn’t even know. I mean, I’m learning about the world.

Yvette Bohanan:

Oh, you learn so much when you go down that one.

Vivek Sharma:

Oh my God. Chicago lease tax, which is not about leasing anything, but apparently it prevents SaaS companies from having customers in Chicago unless you support this tax, but we support the Chicago lease tax. But the cool thing about it is we have customers who they’re like, “Okay. Well, we have our tax solution. There might be some things that it doesn’t capture. Well, what does it mean to rip and replace Stripe tax?” And I’m like, “No, no, no, that’s not how you think about it. You can just call us programmatically to cover the scenarios that may not have been covered by our other solution provider if you want, because we want to work on your terms.”

So great. Call us for the Chicago lease tax calculation. And that’s what makes a standalone. In fact, this is one of the first times where we can operate Stripe tax. You don’t have to be a strike payments customer. This is putting our money where our mouth is. We want to be working on our user’s terms. And I think that’s a stark difference because this is such a massive opportunity. It’s a place where many, many different companies can come together and provide end to end solutions.

So we want to be highly interoperable, modularly deployed. You don’t have to do massive rip and replaces. And that already is a very different set of statements. So you will see us knocking on doors and making sure that people want to work well together. Good news is we have our Salesforce connector to complete that Salesforce journey we talked about. That’s great. Just like the cloud, this is massive opportunity. We have a NetSuite connector with Oracle. We work with Snowflake and Amazon brick shift for porting data over. And in fact welcome to use their analytics tools and we encourage it. You don’t have to stay on just Stripe.

So this approach is fundamentally user first and it’s fundamentally about driving the opportunity for the ecosystem rather than saying, “Okay. Well, it’s only Stripe that will be allowed to play.” And that I think is a remarkable different approach that maybe hadn’t been tried before, which increases the likelihood of success quite a bit by a far margin. I mean, we wouldn’t be seeing the momentum we have if we didn’t have this approach, but I think fundamentally it’s also the right thing to do for the industry.

Cloud was a secular trend for the entire globe. This is a secular trend for the entire globe, and we may be helpful in turbo-charging it, but we want this to be a success for all involved. The payment leaders that you talked about are going to have massive jobs going forward because they’re not doing contract and manual toil management between departments. They’re focusing on the end-to-end value to their own customers, which is unlimited demands. The way I like to put it is somebody asked me recently, it’s like, “Okay, well if you’re removing the manual toil, what work is left?” And it’s like, “Actually it’s all the work that was getting ignored because the manual toil was eating up all our time and resources. Let’s drive insights. What are your most valuable customers? What are your most valuable geographies? What cards work the best or not? What’s your subscriber model?”

These things are impossible if you have to correlate spreadsheets in that quicksand we talked about. So I think the multi-layered question you asked, it’s really about the approach, creating ecosystem, modular, interoperable, and then really making sure that people are able to graduate beyond efficiency. Just promising efficiency is just the start, but we want to get to people actually delivering higher, faster value to their own users and customers. That I think is a big, big differentiator.

Yvette Bohanan:

I love that. Higher and better use. Higher and best use right of our time and our resource, and that brings value to everybody. So I think that is the perfect way and the perfect thought to leave everyone with. How about you?

Vivek Sharma:

Just still in awe of your last question. I’m just stewing it over. Thank you for asking that. This is a million dollar question in the payments world.

Yvette Bohanan:

Well, thank you for that. That’s very kind and I hope it leads to even better ideas for the product and the team and everything else. So I also hope that for our listeners, this inspires you to go out if you haven’t already and reached out to other finance leaders. We always say that payments is the team sport.

Vivek Sharma:

I love it.

Yvette Bohanan:

And we brought up tax a little bit, tax professionals, treasury professionals, your CFO. It takes a village and hopefully this is inspiring you to think about the tools, the technology, the things that you can do now to get to modernization automation with your environment and get to that highest and best use goal. It’s not as elusive maybe as it once was. That’s what we’re starting to see. So thank you very much for listening, Vivek. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Vivek Sharma:

Thank you.

Yvette Bohanan:

I’m sure you’re super busy still getting up to speed. You’re less than a year. You’re still getting up to speed and got a lot on your plate. So thanks so much for taking the time for this episode. I hope we can check in with you again in a year and see how the journey is going.

Vivek Sharma:

Absolutely. My pleasure.

Yvette Bohanan:

Fantastic. Thanks everyone for joining us on this episode and until next time, keep up the good work. Bye for now.

If you enjoy Payments On Fire, someone else might too. So please feel free to share this podcast on your favorite social media outlet. Payments On Fire is a production of Glenbrook Partners. Glenbrook is a leading global consulting and education firm to the payments industry. Learn more and connect with us by visiting our website at glenbrook.com. All opinions expressed on our podcast are those of our hosts and guests. While companies featured or mentioned on our show may be clients of Glenbrook, Glenbrook receives no compensation for podcasts. No mention of any company or specific offering should be construed as an endorsement of that company’s products or services.

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