Fiserv: Leading Innovation in Payment Processing Tech

Fiserv, a financial services company that offers fintech and payment solutions globally, saw 12% organic growth in the third quarter of 2023. According to Chief Risk Officer Joanne Sebby, its merchant business has seen the most growth, with the company as a whole on a trajectory for continued growth.

“Our growth is a result of our ability to put our products and services together in a way that helps consumers and end users to make their lives simpler, to help our clients grow their business and grow their client base,” she said.

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Fiserv has offices in over 20 locations globally and customers in a significantly higher number of countries. It has more than 40,000 employees around the world, 5,000 of which are in the Omaha and Lincoln offices.

Acquiring First Data

Fiserv acquired First Data in 2019, and Sebby said the combination has been transformative for the two companies. The company serves two segments, merchants and financial institutions. Assisting over 6 million merchants globally, Sebby said it provides services from online banking to embossing credit cards. 

Offering complementary services, Fiserv and First Data are seeking ways to integrate them in ways that meet customers’ needs. Embedded finance, for example.

“We’re bringing multiple parts of our organization together to help businesses deliver financial services via a non-bank channel, such as a merchant’s app or wallet,” Sebby said. “[This] streamlines the customer user experience and is likely where the future of money movement is probably headed.”

Also, as the world marches toward digital, Fiserv is working to maintain its user-friendliness, which involves moving its infrastructure to the cloud and creating application program interfaces (API) that simplify how its developers can integrate with clients.

Fiserv is continuing to improve its Clover platform for the 700,000 small businesses that use it. In addition to helping clients accept payments, it helps them manage some of their back-office operations like payroll and accounting.

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“[Clover] simplifies operations so small to medium-sized firms can focus on running and growing their businesses,” Sebby said.

Photography by Debra S. Kaplan
Photography by Debra S. Kaplan

Innovation and Security

The company’s strategy department keeps track of what’s happening in the payments industry and with some of its competitors.

“Within each of the businesses and products we have a group of project managers,” Sebby said. “We have application developers that are making sure that our products are not only safe and secure and function as we want them to, but also that they’re advancing as the world advances, like moving into digital and moving things to the cloud and making sure they’re meeting all compliance and regulatory requirements.”

Fiserv’s cybersecurity department establishes the overall programs. It defines the tool sets it will be able to use to create multiple layers of security in all of its products and services.

“The group of product developers are responsible for adopting and implementing the security programs,” Sebby said. “We’re making sure that only people who need to be in the systems have access to the systems, making sure we’re monitoring for things that shouldn’t be happening in the systems, and fully protecting the data in a number of different ways.  [Also] we’re moving money, so we have the right level of encryption and security around that as well.”

Fiserv’s People

The company offers leadership programs and employee resource groups like the Women’s Impact Network and the Asian Leadership Council. Sebby said these groups allow employees to meet other employees they might not meet during their normal day-to-day responsibilities, and also allow them to work on projects they might not otherwise work on in the course of their jobs.

“We also have our community investment programs — like Back to Business, which is our commitment to supporting small business,” she said.

Additionally, Fiserv offers a military and veteran hiring program that assists the military community and their families. Recently it hired 100 individuals in Nebraska and is putting them through a training program to help ensure a smooth transition to their first job outside of the military.

“We have an initiative to grow in Nebraska,” Sebby said. “We are very focused on hiring people here and getting them into our development programs.”

Fiserv processes over 12,000 financial transactions per second. Sebby attributed the company’s success to its employees.

“Everything we do, our people are at the heart of it,” she said. “We’re processing transactions around the globe. It takes a lot of people and a lot of great programs they run, and a lot of great work they do to keep us safe and keep us moving forward.”

Sebby holds a bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University. She is a certified public accountant and certified information security manager. Sebby served as an audit manager at Deloitte before joining First Data. She held several risk management positions during her tenure with that firm before its acquisition by Fiserv. Prior to being named chief risk officer she served as chief audit executive at Fiserv, the same position she held at First Data prior to its combination with Fiserv.

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