Samee Zafar, Director based in London, caught up with Melissa Smith, President and CEO of WEX. Melissa began with WEX in 1997 as a senior financial analyst and worked her way through numerous roles, progressively gaining greater responsibilities and building a strong track record of execution. As CFO, Melissa led the company’s highly successful IPO in 2005. Then, as president of the Americas, she was responsible for the company’s growth in the Americas, both organically and through acquisitions. And, today, as CEO, Melissa has responsibility for the company’s day-to-day global operations and its long-term strategic growth. She also serves as a WEX board member.
1. What is driving innovation in payments these days?
Innovation today is in many ways very different than a few years ago. Companies who considered themselves only competitors in the past are coming together in partnership realizing they can both go faster and reduce risk by working together. Technological changes also make the speed of prototyping faster so you can test and learn quickly. Compliance and security needs are increasing, which is taking a bigger piece of dollars spent every year. And larger companies are looking more externally to others to partner with to keep up with the rate of change.
2. How does WEX use / analyse data to help improve its services to clients?
WEX has been through a significant transformation the last several years, focusing on what we do best: using technology to solve complicated payment challenges for businesses. We focus on where a payment intercepts with data and technology and work to become highly integrated into the operations of our customers through both APIs and mobile phones. Underlying our products is a rich set of data that we use to create business intelligence tools. We know within our fleet business that by directly communicating with a driver via text, we can reduce spending and out of policy usage using our ClearView analytics tools. For over the road fleets, we can tell if customers are buying more fuel than the remaining capacity in the truckbed. In healthcare, we can help consumers pick how much to contribute to an HSA account based upon relevant benchmark data. It's an important part of the value we deliver and a place of continued product focus.
3. How do you think new technologies such as driverless cars / trucks revolutionise the business of transport / logistics and what impact it will have on payments?
Connected cars have a fantastic opportunity to embed the payment mechanism within the onboard computer of the car. The car can turn on or off the pump and act like the point of sale device. It can also extract data directly from the car to attach to the payment which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for what we can do. It's exciting to think about the future here.
4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What are your passions?
I am passionate about people and the outdoors. I enjoy a wide variety of activities from skiing to swimming to running with the common connection that I need to breathe fresh air regularly. It comes from growing up on a farm. I also have three children age four and under. They are at an amazing age where their personalities are getting formed and they are learning at a pace that is impressive to watch. They remind me every day of the power behind the question why.