Nasser Chanda, CEO at Paymerang shares a few thoughts on why fintech companies need to keep innovating to address changing business needs and how automation is integral to the better functioning of finance teams in this quick chat with us:
Tell us a little about yourself Nasser, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years in fintech.
I began my career in Investment Banking, then transitioned into Corporate Strategy which allowed me to launch the Global Payments business at Brink’s over 20 years ago. Our mission at Brink’s was to “Serve the Underserved” and we launched global payment products around the world including prepaid cards and walk-in bill pay solutions. We got that business to $100 million in revenue very quickly and were really solving problems for customers in the poorest neighborhoods. When I came to Paymerang, I was blessed to inherit what our founders had created and applied what I learned at Brink’s to help us scale our products and processes. We added some amazing FinTech professionals along the way. My main learning over the years has been that FinTech companies need to keep innovating to address all the unmet customer needs out there. There are so many opportunities and we’re in the early innings of what’s possible in terms of products and customer experiences. This can come from new FinTech rails and technologies that speed up payments, reduce errors, automate settlement, or provide financial accessibility to the broader population. I’m excited with what’s ahead and lucky to work with all our amazing Paymerangers to solve problems!
What are some of the biggest trends that you’ve followed as a fintech executive over these years?
One of the biggest trends in payment and FinTech, is the move to the “Perfect Payment”. That’s a payment which is accurate, timely, accessible, and efficient. This will happen through technology tools implemented for the buyer and the vendor. Looking at it from the consumer space, before PayPal came along, consumers had limited ways of transferring money or paying for goods. PayPal created a secure solution for financial transactions to happen on mobile devices and in emails, and then linked those transactions into the traditional rails. That made payments easy and accessible for the world. Now we have Venmo and Zelle to increase our options. In the AP world where Paymerang lives, we’re solving the same problems of accuracy, accessibility, efficiency and timeliness, except that the equation gets complicated by aggregated invoices, credit memos, short payments, and voluminous reconciliations. Then you add the challenges of fraud prevention to that. The more the rails are synchronized for buyers and vendors, the more we can reduce friction and enable the Perfect Payment. We need more software and more tools tackling these problems. One of the tools we’re using at Paymerang is AI to read invoices, intelligent rules to route these invoices, and APIs to post these invoices to the general ledger. All that being said, there is a crucial human aspect required to building a payment solution, which I believe many of Paymerang’s competitors miss out on. Payees don’t all act the same—some want to receive payment by email, but others may require a phone call. In the payment space, it is critical to know how to balance technology and human interaction. Though we’re a FinTech at our core, we try to make Paymerang a very human company.
How have you observed payments solutions for businesses (small / medium) evolve; what are some of the biggest ways in which you feel payments solutions are set to change how finance and management teams manage their finance and payments standards?
Finance teams today are stretched to do more with less. They need to spend time in being more strategic to their companies. Automation will be key for them. There’s no need to manually read, sign, and input invoices. Printing and stuffing checks, then reconciling bank accounts, is a way of the past too. Then there are a whole set of activities on the AR side that can be automated—invoicing, collections, and cash applications. Once these tools are in place, finance teams can focus on optimizing cash flow, analyzing results, negotiating with vendors, and delivering value to the CEO. Over recent years, the mid-size companies we serve have come to realize that older, paper-based processes do not provide the scalability and visibility required to remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. In the very near future, I believe we are going to see automation play a much larger role in every aspect of the CFO’s office.
We’d love to hear a little about the Paymerang platform and how it’s evolved over the years…
We began in the payment automation space, helping our clients automate vendor payments and turn them electronic. Our platform is offered as a SAAS solution which allows customers to get up and running in 30 days with a full-scale ePayments solution delivered to us via a single payment file. Simple and powerful. We augmented our capabilities over the years with industry solutions, including a patient refund product to solve the needs of healthcare providers and a multi-property approval and payment solution for large multi-facility organizations in the education, hospitality, and healthcare space. Recently, we launched an invoice automation solution that allows clients to receive invoices electronically, read the data using AI, intelligently route invoices for electronic approval, and post them to the general ledger via API’s. All without touching any paper. We’re really making a difference for our clients and are experiencing phenomenal growth, having almost doubled our workforce in a year.
What are some of the glaring lags that you still see when businesses adopt payment solutions for the first time? What tips would you share with them to optimize this process?
The first problem we see is that some companies believe that implementing payment automation requires a level of effort analogous to an ERP implementation, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The few hours devoted to implementation in the beginning will quickly be reclaimed with the thousands of hours their teams will save by automating their accounts payable payments. The second issue is that we sometimes see businesses take a myopic view of automation. They’ll focus on marginal improvements and seek out cash rebates instead. We think that automation and efficiency is the key. These solutions need to streamline AP and eliminate thousands of hours of manual work so that the problem is tackled once and for all. My advice is to embrace automation and be open to what’s out there.
In what ways have you seen emerging technologies like AI impact fintech and payment solutions?
We use AI to read invoice data and have also seen robotic process automation (RPA) automate cash application. Rules-based engines and low-code technologies are being used widely now to automate basic tasks. These are tools though, and the companies that can architect them into practical solutions will win. The human element is critical here. Paymerang believes in automation combined with humans for the optimal environment. Great technology should combine AI with humans through great experiences to deliver successful outcomes. The combination is the silver bullet. Too much reliance on one without the other is far less optimal and potentially full of risk.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the most innovative fintech / payment solutions you’ve come across in the recent years.
I love what Stripe is doing to make payment processing universal through API’s. Plaid is tackling another angle in creating the rails for an ACH network that may look similar to the card networks management by Visa, MasterCard and Discover. It’s interesting to see Visa make a play to buy them. Then you have Quickbooks Online that has fabulous API’s to make sure the general ledger is connecting into all these rails and recording the transactions accurately. We’ve taken major leaps and are still in early stages. Real-time payments are also going to be interesting in specific use cases on the business side.
As global fintech trends change and the market shifts due to business environments (and also Covid-19), what are your comments on the state of fintech in 2021 and beyond?
- has been challenging for everyone. Many organizations had to embrace new procedures to figure out how to work remotely in a secure fashion. Our team has been busier than ever, because customers are realizing the benefits of automating their payments through an electronic payment provider, which enables them to make their payments from anywhere. Our focus on mid-market enterprises has especially been rewarding for us. These companies do so much to drive growth in our economy and are in desperate need for innovative solutions that cater to their size and circumstances.
We’d love to hear about some of Paymerang’s upcoming plans / innovations?
Our newest product is full Invoice Automation, specifically geared toward the needs of small and mid-size businesses. In the future, we plan on bringing more products to Finance officers that enable them to automate more functions within their realm of influence, including both the AP and AR functions. We’re continuing to grow our team, promote our people, and research new business opportunities. The fun part is in creating a culture of innovation that helps our people be successful and solves problems for our customers.
Before we wrap up, what are the biggest learnings or tips you’d share with fintech innovators and leaders?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and encourage your teams to do the same. Take risks but always be vigilant against fraud and manipulation. Test and learn by launching product MVPs quickly and pivoting later. Build a culture that engages people in solving problems and makes work fun. Work can be grueling so help people be successful and fulfilled at it. At Paymerang, we strive to live our values every day. Our people are the lifeblood of our culture and our company, so we’re always coming together as a team to collaborate and find innovative ways to bring our products to market.
Founded in 2010, Paymerang offers award-winning accounts payable automation solutions to clients around the country in education, nonprofit, healthcare, media, manufacturing, services, and beyond. Through its unique simplicity, Paymerang enables clients to automate their invoice process and pay all their vendors electronically with a single payment file. By handling the entire accounts payable process, Paymerang provides enhanced visibility, efficiency, security, and financial rewards.
Nasser as CEO of Paymerang is responsible for overseeing the strategy and direction of the company, ensuring that Paymerang continues to revolutionize business payments. Nasser has more than 20 years of experience in growing startups and payment companies, including launching and growing Brink’s Global Payments to a profitable business with over $100 million in revenue and operations in five countries.