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by Kim Bickford, Senior Vice President, Operations, Wespay

If growth and opportunity are energizing words to you, a career in payments may be right up your alley. The payments industry is quickly evolving and is increasingly dependent on technology. For candidates interested in this field, there are a variety of professional development areas to consider, including: operations, risk management, compliance, sales/service, and technology. But what is needed?

Technology continues to play a more critical role in the payments space than over the past 25 years. The buzz today is cryptocurrency and how it will be utilized as a viable form of payment in the U.S. About 46 million Americans own a share of a cryptocurrency and predictions are that it will continue to grow.

In 2017, The Clearing House launched the Real-Time Payments (RTP) rail, a 24/7/365 processing system. There is a significant upward growth trend with RTP as more financial institutions and companies find use cases for instant payments. FedNow is the Federal Reserve’s service to offer similar instant payment capabilities. Both rails require new rules and compliance procedures to meet the consumer and commercial demand for instant payments. Services that support continuous processing and real time risk management offer emerging career opportunities.

To stand out amongst the crowd of those trying to tap into a career in this space, education is critical. Payments knowledge and accreditations are an effective way to rise above the competition for a career in this industry. There are five primary rails that make up the U.S. payments system: ACH, card, check, wire, and now instant payments. Each of these rails has their own set of rules, compliance requirements, and associated risks, and there are several associated professional certifications:

A great infrastructure to support these programs has developed in the U.S., and preparatory courses for the accreditations are delivered through ten Payments Associations. Each association also has a myriad of education on various payment rails ranging from introductory courses to advanced. Visit www.centerforpayments.org for a full list of the associations.

Regardless of your aspirations, networking with payments industry professionals is a great way to learn about this growing field of opportunity. Asking professionals how they got into it, why they have decided to stay, and what opportunities they see coming, is a great way to learn more. There are many payments industry events that provide opportunities for both your professional development and career growth.

And don’t forget to get involved with your Payments Association to explore education and networking events.

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