Payments in Focus Insight that keeps you ahead of change

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Focusing on Consumers Experience and Connected Devices With Gaylon Jowers

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gaylon Jowers will admit the word 'friction' is a little overused.

But that doesn't mean he's going to stop using it. Since joining TSYS, a Global Payments company, nearly 30 years ago, it's been his job to confront the breakneck change of pace in payments while also making the customer experience as free of challenges as possible.

As senior executive vice president and president of the TSYS Issuer Solutions business, the real question is just which parts of the company he hasn't had a hand in since joining in 1991. Since then, Jowers has held several key leadership roles in initiatives around international, debit, prepaid, loyalty, debt management, e-commerce, global sales, corporate strategy and marketing.

Recently, Jowers sat down to discuss a range of topics on his radar, including the importance of taking risks, the power of diversity and, yes — minimizing friction for customers.

Here are four highlights from the conversation, which has been edited for clarity.

01 on making mistakes

One thing Jowers has learned over his three-decade career is the power of mistakes. Or, more specifically, the risk associated with not making them.

"You're not moving forward if you're not taking risks and making mistakes," he says. "Because progress is a series of these things that don't always go well."

But on the flip side of that, it's easier to have setbacks when you have a team and a company culture that demonstrates ongoing support.

"I think you can hold people accountable and get the job done, but you can do it professionally [with] the highest standards," he says. To a new employee, he would say to "get out there and work harder than everybody else. Stay engaged. And don't worry if you fail — the culture will pick you back up."

02 on doing technology well

One of Jowers' favorite parts of his job is looking around the corner to anticipate what's coming. An area that excites him is the technology that powers payments. He pointed to distributed technology and cloud-based computing replacing legacy systems.

"What I see is a world that is accelerating and technology that's faster than anything we've ever seen," he says.

But when you look at the statistics of Fortune 500 companies, he admits it's questionable which of those have staying power. Those with true longevity are as adept at development and technology just as much as they are cards and payments.

He pointed to car keys becoming integrated into a mobile device and RFID technology to signal when customers are close to a local coffee shop. Jowers anticipates payments will follow suit, with payment methods readily integrated into mobile environments.

"[So many industries are in] a transitory state," he says. "Technologies are converging from this disparate set of platforms and software."

03 on diversity and talent

Another thing on Jowers' mind lately has been talent management — namely getting the right team in the right place and ensuring they stay there.

"There's such a flight now, of people in the millennial crowd that we talk about a lot," he says. "They move around more."

Drawing on his leadership roles in the international business, Jowers believes collaborating with people from all corners of the globe — and different lifestyles — makes work more gratifying and ultimately aids in retention efforts.

"One of the objectives [is] a more diverse and inclusive workplace," he says. "I want to bring in people from all walks of life, and it's critical to bring the [level of] talent up … and bring more unique ideas."

04 on connected devices

One trend that positions the payments industry for explosive growth is the boom of connected devices, underscores Jowers.

"I do see a world of connected devices and I hear various statistics at 20 billion of them," he says. "Your pool filter, if it needs chlorine in the pool, it will register your pool service company. If your washer or dryer, if your air conditioning Freon gets low, all of these things are going to be connected," he says.

This means there is unimaginable potential for payments transaction growth. And he finds that ripe for potential.

"Ten or 11 years ago, the iPhone didn't exist [in a mainstream way]," he says. "Then it was just a few apps you could download. And then there were tens of thousands of apps you could download. And now you use it for tokenized payments."

With so many of these new developments in technologies, says Jowers, it always comes back to payments.