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Born in New Zealand, trained lawyer Cheyenne Datuin speaks to Payments Review about how she got into the payments industry and why London is an attractive city for working in fintech.
Tell us about your career path? How did you get into the industry?
After graduating from law school back home in New Zealand, I started my career on a products graduate program at the Bank of New Zealand. I had clerked at a law firm and wasn’t so sure about practising law. The graduate program gave me the flexibility to learn about various consumer banking products, how these services affect our lives and how payments are the backbone of the global economy.
I went on to work as a business analyst at a SaaS tech company called Freedom (acquired by Visa), which provided payments and transaction management for tier one financial institutions and corporate customers. I traded working with bankers for working alongside engineers and UX designers, exposing me to a different stage of the payments chain.
I’m now London-based and working at Form3, where we build cloud-based payments infrastructure so financial institutions can connect to multiple payment schemes using one API. I work closely with UK financial institutions and manage Form3’s Faster Payments and Bacs products, having built multiple APIs for the company.
What challenges have you faced?
Professionally, things can move really quickly at start-ups so I’ve learned to embrace ambiguity as a positive aspect – it’s always exciting when no two days are the same.
I’ve also had to learn to advocate for myself – learning to trust my instincts in a professional setting which has helped me lead the direction of the products I manage.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement professionally ties into a life achievement, which was moving to London and starting to work here. Prior to joining Form3 I had no UK payments experience and this was the smallest team I’d joined (circa 150 employees back in 2021).
My work with Form3 has been a big professional achievement for me as I’ve launched several new API services since joining and I now manage Form3’s largest product portfolio. Form3 has signed some of the biggest banks in the world and provides best in class payments technology.
A true product person is always curious and pushes for new challenges.
How does the payments sector differ in London to back in New Zealand?
New Zealand showed payments innovation promise in the 1980s, when they adopted point of sale terminals which quickly became the norm there, when most of the world was probably more into cash.
But London of course has more investment and innovation for fintech most especially with open banking and Faster Payments (though this has been around for several years now). Things generally move a lot faster in London and I would love to see some of that appetite for partnership and innovation back home in New Zealand.
A real time payments scheme in New Zealand would mean more efficient and reliable movement of money, which ultimately contributes to a smoother functioning economy and inclusivity. This is especially important in New Zealand, where small-medium business accounts for 29.3% of employment and contributes to over 25% of New Zealand’s GDP.
What challenges do you think the payments industry is facing?
There are lots of new payments tech companies that focus on solving one part of the payments chain – whether that’s account reconciliation, fraud or even banking-as-a-service tech.
But consumers are only concerned with the end of the payment journey and the financial institution or card provider that represents that. So, it’s important for all involved parties to build robust, scalable technology and share insights.
At Form3 we have built a Mandate Management service for DDIs, Confirmation of Payee and are working on a fraud product so we can enhance the payment experience for our customers across our entire platform.
What would you like the payments industry to achieve from your perspective?
It’s exciting to see the huge US market shift towards instant payments especially with the launch of Fednow. While we’ll see instant payments volumes increasing across markets, banks are faced with the challenge that fraud happens faster, which can have a devastating impact on victims.
The best way to combat this is by collective effort and data shared across financial institutions, technology providers and regulators. This is also why it’s important for financial institutions to modernise their payments estates – so they can get ahead, extract data and insights quickly and ensure protections for their customers.
What would be your advice to someone coming into the industry?
- Get comfortable with questioning what you don’t initially understand – every tech stack or payments jurisdiction will be different. If you’ve joined a payments tech company, you should understand your build well enough so that you can explain what your engineers have built to kindergarteners.
- Document what you’re learning and use that to help others understand your product and what it’s solving. That might help you build API documentation or inform a robust sales pitch. It’s good practise to have tangible collateral throughout, especially if you are planning on building new payments services which introduce new (and better) behaviours.
- Get to know the people you cross paths with well – whether that’s your customers, or colleagues in separate business lines. All roles interact with payments differently and have unique perspectives. A customer success role might understand customers in a different way to say, your colleagues in operations.