Barclaycard International Women's Day Greta and Jen

Marking International Women’s Day: The women driving payments forward

As payment innovations progress through a new digital age, female thought leaders, mentors and innovators continue to drive forward key trends in the space, inspiring their colleagues, clients and customers to think differently about the swipes, taps and clicks we make every day.

Reflecting on recent changes to consumer spending patterns, Jen Drabble, Director of Data Product, Science and Analytics at Barclaycard Payments, said: “This last year has seen us respond to a constantly changing landscape across the UK. In the first lockdown we saw a 36.5 per cent drop in consumer spend versus the previous year, which had a massive impact for our business customers. We have also seen an acceleration of key growth trends, such as the rise of contactless and online payments and a shift in business models towards subscription.”

Solving complex challenges means leveraging the passion and skills of some of the best thinkers in the industry. Our team has worked tirelessly to put in place proactive and intelligent solutions to both mitigate impact and drive growth as we, and our customers, have together navigated through tiered restrictions and further national lockdowns.

Every year, we like to celebrate the females changing the face of fintech. To mark International Women’s Day 2021, we want to highlight some of our female leaders, whose astonishing talent, curiosity and creative thinking are the driving force behind our response to these new challenges, prompting us to rethink everything we always thought we knew about payments.

Greta Cipriano: optimising payment acceptance for merchants

Greta Cipriano is a data scientist within Barclaycard Payments. Her role involves calling on the power of data sets to generate insights and build new products using machine learning tools. Working on the cutting edge of data, Greta and her team are helping us dramatically improve product propositions for our customers.

While Greta’s skills have always been valuable, they’ve really come into their own this past year, in light of the current health crisis.

“We are witnessing the digitalisation of our society,” she says. “COVID-19 has accelerated the demand to reconsider strategic agendas across businesses. Now more than ever, with the increase in digital payments due to lockdown measures, we have vast quantities of data and data-centric roles are becoming more and more important.”

According to a recent study from the Bank of England, 85 per cent per cent of those in the banking industry already use some form of artificial intelligence (AI). This looks set to increase; 64 per cent say they expect to use AI in three or more business areas within two years, and 77 per cent anticipate that AI would have high or very high overall importance to their business by 2022. Greta confirms this projection: “I personally believe that machine learning is going to disrupt the way we think and do business in our unforeseeable future. The lockdown measures have driven uncertainty across many sectors and access to data and insight is imperative in such unpredictable times.”

Greta and her team are already absorbed in meeting the demands of these trends on a day-to-day basis. “The project I am currently working on uses machine learning applications with the scope to improve payment acceptance for our merchants,” she says. “Data has shown correlation between the way payments are processed – such as the security of the transaction – and the card issuer acceptance rate. We are building an application to support merchants that want to optimise their acceptance rate by helping them understand the main drivers that can influence the decision of the card-issuing bank.”

Jude Briggs: supporting small business customers through an ever-changing landscape

Jude Briggs has been a strategic analyst within our Data and Strategic Analytics team for five years. With a background in the civil service, her current focus is on supporting existing customers. In the past year, it’s fair to say that this has presented an array of new challenges. “Lockdown had been hard on our small and medium enterprise (SME) customers,” says Jude. Barclaycard research tells us that consumer spending fell by 7.1 per cent in 2020, amidst a year of restrictions.

“The analysis around supporting our business clients during this period is really important,” continues Jude. “Clients have lots to think about and we want to ensure that we support them in the right way, both now and when they are able to trade again.”

Jude and her team have been using data to help us respond to these trends, which seem to shift on an almost daily basis:

“We have a number of data sources that help us understand the pressures that our customers and clients are experiencing.  Through our contact centres we capture the sentiment, competitive environment, and feedback on our products. We also consider the wider market and how we provide the right options to our clients. In tracking the changes in local tiers and government strategy, we are able to better support our small businesses. This means continuously re-evaluating our offerings so we can be responsive to any impact our clients are facing against local area and governmental guideline changes.”

Why is diversity so important in payments?

“As a team we’re passionate about encouraging diversity and inclusion within data and technical product management,” says Jen Drabble. “Not only because this makes it a more fun and supportive environment for us to work in, but it also makes us better at our jobs. We strongly believe that a broad range of experiences and backgrounds in the team enables us to build the best products and services.”

When asked what International Women’s Day means to her, Greta had this to say:

“We have come a long way since 1903, when Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union in favour of the suffrage movement. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to keep the achievements, efforts and dedication of such women alive. Our role is to continue on this journey by supporting female talent, breaking down barriers created by gender-role stereotypes and allowing the next generations to achieve their goals.”

“International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate our successes and achievements and get closer to gender parity,” agrees Jude. “No one should grow up believing they are unable to do any job because of their gender, ethnicity, age, physical ability, or anything else.”

So, what is their advice to young talent just starting out in the industry? “Never stop learning,” says Greta. “Stay on top of what it is happening in finance and keep following your passion. Young generations have more tools now that anyone could have dreamed of to help them in their careers.”

For Jude, it’s all about planning and goal-setting: “Think about what you want to achieve in your career and then set small goals to help drive you forward towards your end goal.”

We’d like to wish all our colleagues, clients and customers a happy International Women’s Day 2021.