Getting to grips with digital payments processing with GPS CEO, Joanne Dewar

Joanne Dewar reveals not only the key factors behind success of GPS but also what it's like to be a woman in fintech.
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Have you ever considered how digital payments actually work? Paying for supermarket groceries with your card or mobile phone is very convenient. Yet, the approval process behind digital payments is rather complex. Joanne Dewar of Global Processing Services (GPS), a pioneer in paytech and the developer of GPS Apex, a global issuer processing platform, says GPS was in the right place at the right time  when they developed their flexible platform. This has helped the company secure big name customers such as $5.5bn neobank Revolut, digital card issuer Curve, and UK digital bank Monzo. The GPS platform is also accredited by Mastercard and Visa.

“We were fully tokenized from the outset, which meant that new fintech startups didn’t need to worry about their PCI certification. We were really the only processor that had the functionality that they were looking for and whether they were going into debit or prepaid, all of those features and functionality enables real-time alerts on your mobile phone. We were able to get to a place where we could say that transactions ‘just happened’. The platform needs to be up all the time in order to achieve that.” – Joanne Dewar, GPS

Strong relationships are key

A flexible platform was just one piece of the puzzle. Another piece centres around strong and enduring relationships. Right from the outset, GPS was able to go on the journey with customers, knowing that their day one starting point is a rather different place from where they’ll be in three years’ time. Today, the company provides the backbone service for fintech, digital banks, and e-wallets and its global issuer processing platform is now used by more than 180+ customers in 60 countries worldwide.

Initial hard graft has paid off and GPS has developed a well-earned reputation for trustworthiness and has secured many high-profile loyal customers. Sticking close to many of the digital banking heavyweights and garnering as much experience as possible, GPS is now a poster child for best practice, as Joanne Dewar recounts:

“Mark Bailey was branching out and wanted to be able to create a challenger bank from within the megalith that is RBS, and in that relationship he said: “Treat me like a traditional bank. Talk to me as you would to any other fintech. GPS is the one that has launched 250 programmes. We want to learn from you in terms of what typically goes wrong. Where are the learning points? What are the things you have to get right before you go live?” We were able to share our experience.” – Joanne Dewar, GPS

GPS helps their customers navigate a highly complex market, and Joanne Dewar believes GPS is well-equipped with the knowledge and experience to help guide them through this maze:

“And again, that’s where the partnership comes in. We’re able to help people navigate that complexity because we’ve been there, done it. We’ve had a taste of  lots of different flavours. We’ve seen what works, we’ve seen what doesn’t. Our customers have an idea, they’ve got a solution. They want to get to market and we can help them figure out the things that they need to do in order to get that solution in play.” – Joanne Dewar, GPS

Financial inclusion and a cashless society

So what does the future hold? According to Joanne, we are going to see an acceleration towards becoming a cashless society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, merchants and their customers showed a strong preference for cashless payments and that trend is going to continue growing. But Joanne says there are still obstacles to surmount, particularly in terms of broadening financial inclusion:

“With the acceleration in the use of digital payments and the move away from cash, the financial inclusion agenda is a hundred times more important because there are still way too many people that are a hundred percent reliant on cash. And I think from a financial inclusion perspective, the moment is around how the government engages with  digital payments and what that leads to in terms of adoption. The key is you can’t let one side of things accelerate beyond the other, moving towards a cashless economy society means striking the right balance and making sure no one gets left behind.” – Joanne Dewar, GPS

To find out more about inventive and humanizing banking and how to best harness customer data, listen to our new Banking on Air podcast episode featuring Joanne Dewar of GPS – Available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify or here:

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Here’s a rundown of this episode:

  • 01:45 What is GPS & it’s history
  • 08:00 Importance of partnerships
  • 14:05 Joanne’s position as woman in fintech
  • 20:55 Future of fintech and financial inclusion

Joanne Dewar is Chief Executive Officer of Global Processing Services (GPS), the trusted and proven go-to payments processing partner for today’s leading challenger brands, including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve.

Since joining the company in 2013, Joanne has spearheaded the transformation of GPS from start-up to private equity-backed scale-up, cementing the business’ position as the bedrock of the fintech ecosystem, as it continues to accelerate the delivery of better financial experiences for every customer. 

Under Joanne’s stewardship, GPS was selected by the UK Department for International Trade to become an Export Champion and part of a prestigious cohort of companies who have successfully sold overseas, and are prepared to share their time and experience to encourage more companies to export. 

Joanne is a recognised leader and influencer in the payments industry, having been selected as one of the top 25 fintech CEOS in Europe for 2020, alongside leaders from Klarna, TransferWise and Funding Circle, and was one of just two women on the 2019 Payments Power 10 list, which recognises payments industry leaders with an ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in the payments sector.

‘Banking on Air’ is the official Vacuumlabs podcast covering the challenges, opportunities, perspectives and opinions that matter to you and to our community. In this podcast, we are looking under the hood of the changing face of tech: the acceleration in all things digital, the impact of regulation (and disruption), the need for genuine collaboration – and the specter of competitors old and new as it plays out in fintech and financial services around the world.

This podcast is brought to you by Vacuumlabs – and we’re sharing our experience and expertise in creating solutions for the digital journey for professionals, community banks, and fintechs. We believe that the future is in communities when it comes to digital transformation in financial services, and we invite you to join us and our guests over the coming weeks and months.

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