Jerod Sands is BillGO’s Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining BillGO, Sands worked in finance and payments, including a lengthy stint at payments provider ACI Worldwide. We recently sat down with him to talk about the opportunities that now exist in the bill payment space and how he believes BillGO can work with financial institutions to help their customers better manage their financial lives.
What prompted you to join BillGO?
I was at ACI for the better part of ten years. I learned a lot about payments in my time there because they have such a broad reach across the payments ecosystem. If nothing else, that experience helped me better appreciate BillGO's mission to bring modernized bill pay back to the bank channel.
There is a tremendous opportunity to help drive a very needed change in the bill payment space. When I think about how I pay my bills – I do a lot of direct card-on-file payments at individual biller websites – it doesn't give me a lot of comfort that all my personal information is sitting out there in all these disparate websites. From a consumer-protection standpoint, there is a huge opportunity to fix that. The speed and convenience BillGO brings to the table with best-in-class bill payment technology really excites me.
What have your brought to BillGO?
I'm big on data – data-driven insights and decision-making. My colleagues at BillGO share my fascination with data. Together, we’re working to lead the industry through a data transformation. BillGO is young and small enough to invest in building the infrastructure to do this.
I think about data on two fronts. Yes, I want to be a data-driven executive that makes informed decisions on behalf of BillGO. But, we’re also focused on how we can leverage the data and insights that we have have to help our clients drive growth in their businesses.
Some believe mainstream financial services talent is not always a great fit for fintechs because mainstream execs might lack the innovative mindset needed for fintechs. Care to comment?
I agree that early on in a fintech startup, you want people that are more innovative, and perhaps have less of a big company background. But then you reach a point where you need talent to help scale. When a company gets to the point, it's a balancing act. You want leaders who have enterprise experience and understand how to structure and operate in that environment, but you also want forward-thinking people willing to buck the trends and not follow the status quo.
In my case, I was pretty uniquely positioned to come to BillGO because I have an innovative mindset. I'm not just a numbers guy. I want to be transformational in my CFO role.
What do you see happening in the bill payment space and where does BillGO fit in?
BillGO offers something that is missing from the marketplace today: a bank-based, bill payment solution for consumers enabling them to pay all their bills in one place in a fast, convenient and secure manner.
You hear a lot in payments around real-time capabilities and BillGO has solved the real-time problem for bill payment. That's important because many consumers live paycheck to paycheck. In many cases they may need an extra day to manage their finances. If a consumer can pay a bill right now and get instant notification from a biller confirming a payment has been received, it empowers consumers.
From a consumer’s standpoint, what is the biggest pain point in bank bill pay?
The limitation on choice. On most digital banking sites, consumers are limited in terms of the options they have when paying their bills. If we've learned anything in this digital world - especially over the last 18 months - consumer choice and preference is incredibly important.
Look at retail and how ecommerce is disrupting it - especially during the pandemic. Ecommerce gives consumers choice in everything – when to buy, how to buy, where to buy, what to buy. When I look at bill payment in that light, I see a parallel. Consumers want that kind of choice when paying bills: when to pay, how to pay. And they want speed.
Payments are becoming increasingly dependent on data. Can you talk a bit more about that?
There's a fine line there because a lot of the data that you get in the payment space is consumer data. And there's a lot of regulatory scrutiny on how consumer data can be used. Every company with access to consumer data must be mindful of that. It can be a big risk area for any organization using consumer data. Like a lot of fintechs doing business today, BillGO takes that responsibility incredibly seriously. We’re protecting that data and ensuring it is being used only as intended.
What excites you most about the journey ahead?
It's a really exciting time to be in payments. We're definitely on to something by transforming the way consumers pay and manage their bills using a single point that's fast, secure and convenient. But I think what I'm most excited about is being able to be a finance leader that helps drive operational excellence. To continue to think forward and innovate while balancing it with the financial structure and accountability that is necessary at this stage in a company's life cycle.
Another thing I love is that we've got a great investor base that is well-versed in payments and fintech. BillGO is very fortunate to have that kind of support because those investors help us expand our network to better serve consumers and small businesses. There are short-term things we are working on, but we're all focused on the long term. Our investors believe in our long-term vision. They see we are here not only for investors, but for consumers too, by improving their day-to-day bill pay experience.