PM’s in the fintech/payments space, what’s your job like? I am considering a Fintech Product Manager role in the partner integrations world and I’m trying to figure out if it’s the best next step for me.
There doesn’t seem to be many resources on how Fintech Product Managers work in real world. I’m mainly relying on what the company is telling me.
I’m mainly concerned about how interesting the work is. Is there room for discovery, testing, experimentation etc. I’m worried that since this is mainly back-end/office, it will be just repeating the same things over and over again as most integrations will be the same. I don’t want to move into a project management role where I’m only coordinating work. For me, it is very important to be excited and motivated by the work I do.
So thanks, it would be great if you shared what your role is like and what excites you about it.
Having worked in the payments industry as a Fintech Product Manager for more than two years after working in Real Estate and a Tech New Publisher company. So having worked in a couple of different industries, I think can help with the query.
In my experience, payments is a very high tech integration specific industry, you work more as a Technical Product Manager rather than a Product manager. We spend more time working with tech, compliance, legal rather than considering the needs of the user or making decisions through Data.
Most of the industries tries to ease the user experience but the payments industry is more inclined towards preventing fraud, so if there is a choice to decrease the user friction by providing a UX at the cost of an increased chances of fraud, you generally tend to stick with a bad UX.
Payments industry is also inherently complex and full of T&C, from a user standpoint, payments tend to be a invisible layer, you go to a payment gateway, select a Paymode and make a payment but from a payments tech standpoint, the equations are very different pertaining to every Paymode, For example for a simple transaction done through Credit card of HDFC bank on to a account of let’s say ICICI, there are 4 different parties involved, HDFC bank, PG provider, credit card provider, target bank provider. Now all of these parties would have some share of the 2% extra paid by the merchant in this case, which ultimately adds complexity to the feature you are developing.
On the flip side , monetization is fairly easy as you generally already have some of user’s money with you, so building revenue models is comparatively easier.
Hope I was able to help from the other side, do comment if you have other questions.
@NathanEndicott, Do you think there are any companies in the payment industry that place a special emphasis on UX and needs of the user? Not necessarily at the expense of fraud/compliance/legal, but a company with the cultural mindset that will do what it takes to make a great user experience given the requirements.
@RohitKumar, There could be, Google Pay does come to mind which have a special emphasis on UX but it is largely due to the culture at google like you mentioned so there are and would be companies like this.
It is just that if you look at the payments industry most of it is dominated by large banks which traditionally have a very bad UX and a bit opaque but with good fraud prevention mechanisms.
Then on the other side you have upcoming startups which have emphasis on the UX but still I would consider them halfway there as paving your way through compliance/legal/fraud takes a lot of energy.
Consider this before UPI, sending money to one’s bank account required adding that person as a beneficiary and then wait for an hour to actually make a transfer.
So the industry is evolving, one step at a time… Surely we would have more number of companies having emphasis on UX in the near future.
I’m not in Fintech, but I’m an integration PM.
You could be responsible for the framework you’re using to integrate. That means the fundamental user experience of every user is touched by an integration. And you may need to improve that. That a good integration PM gig IMO.
I think you’re asking a good question - the answer is it depends on the product/company.
@MarcoSilva, Yeah I definitely agree that it will be different depending on the company. I wish the company went into specifics of what I would be doing. It’s usually just generic and most people tend to oversell.
Hello, you can productize the integrations part as it is somehow repetitive and follows a process.
You can design and build a developer tools in where prospective clients can integrate with your APIs and have it experienced in a staging environment. If it fit their needs, you can promote their access to the production environment, then voila, you have integrated them to your system. And include an API docs also
I don’t work as a Technical or Fintech Product Manager, but have scoped some projects.
IMO it’s a pretty technical role because it’s very oriented towards API’s and system architecture, not cute front end interfaces.
It’s not an industry I’d focus on as a PM unless you are super interested in that kind of industry.
@ShiyaoLiu, Would you say as a result there’s less customer interaction and involvement with say getting customer feedback which is often said to be common in other PM roles?
@RisaButler, Probably, would depend on the product. Some Will simply be non-stop just building integrations with tons of bank APIs.
Others may focus more on UX/stickyness/social like venmo.
@ShiyaoLiu, I see, thanks for your response. I had the impression that there’d be more interaction with Bank or other B2B partners. I’m curious as payments as a growing area seems of interest to me, but what I lack insight into is what the day to day involves. Do you see that the requirements also tend to be somewhat waterfall based as well?
@Risa, I’m really not the best person to answer this. I’ve just helped work on integrating Stripe, Authorize, and a few others into sites. Not full out payment platforms.
I work in a somewhat hybrid role between developer, tech lead, even PM to some degree given we don’t have a technical PM. Oh, and I work at a fintech startup involved in providing advanced payment options to workers.
Definitely more of our work is technical focused as opposed to typical product management. The technical details about how something will work or how it needs to be designed often trumps that of designing the best UI/UX. That’s largely because you care first about making sure people can’t abuse your system and second about the customer; the customer is still important but if you go under from financial loss that’s a much bigger deal. Even if you come up with improvements for certain features or a feature you think would be really useful, often times your resources will get spent on other tasks like helping the finance team or compliance team. Even customer support issues tend to be much higher priority than usual because when people can’t access their money that’s a big deal.
Sometimes you’ll come up with ideas only to find out they’re not technically feasible for some reason, or that things have to work in a less ideal way because of how your vendor works. If you like the idea of coming up with feature designs given a set of constraints, then you might actually quite enjoy this. It’s also important to note that if you’re not a technical product manager you will need to work very closely with engineering and defer to them a lot. That’s why someone such as myself (who is primarily a developer) does some amount of product management, because our PM team isn’t technical. We absolutely have run into problems before where people designed features that were technically infeasible and had to be modified or scrapped.
There isn’t as much room for testing or experimentation as you would probably like. As I mentioned, a lot of things tend to be guided by technical requirements. Not every feature is technically driven (only around half our features are, if I was guessing) so there is still some wiggle room. I think in general when your features involve vendors and need to be extremely well planned out (to avoid financial risk) the experimentation does go down. If I compare this to designing a board game, with a board game you would have a lot of room to test different interactions, altering rules slightly for balance - that sort of iterative process doesn’t really exist in this industry.
The motivation will come from what you derive motivation from. Some people like the process - doing user research, market research, finding interesting ways to attract new customers/retain them, etc. Some people find motivation from working on things that have a profound impact on people and to be able to see that feedback. Especially when you’re in a financial space with an app of some sort, you get a lot of user feedback and can see just how much of an impact you are making on their lives. That aspect is something a lot of my coworkers enjoy about this job. Another thing I’ve found people enjoy is learning about the industry, because it can be quite complex and that knowledge can lead you to a lot of good opportunities.
I think I have an opposing opinion here! I’m a payments PM for quite a while now and worked in a couple of fintech startups too and in my experience the role has been way more customer- than technical-focused.
Obviously you have to understand the technical aspects to know your way around the product because it’s relatively complex and delicate, but both companies I’ve worked in saw payments as a product and not as a process, so I had full reign to innovate however we wanted.
Most of my time was spent on discovery (of localized payment methods, ways to make integrations easier, features that would make the UX seamless, etc) and technical/integration discussions with my dev team. Depending on the industry the company you’re interviewing for operates in, there’s a lot more innovation coming your way in the next few years. I have a huge idea backlog that I’m super excited to get going!
I think what I wanted to say is: I started out in payments without any technical knowledge mainly because the company I worked for believed the way we paid for things online was bullshit. Getting someone from outside who wasn’t technical actually helped them see that things needed to be done with the customer at the center. Now I see a lot of fintech startups with the same mindset, and they are all growing so fast because people actually trust a seamless payment process way more than a bumpy one (provided the company gives a certain level of security, of course).
There’s tons of space for innovation, instant payments and open banking are coming throughout the world, the pandemic certainly forced a lot of companies to go digital and use online payment methods, so yeah… it’s exciting, but it all depends on the company and its culture, so be sure to ask them how they approach it
And if after a while it turns out it’s not for you, you’ll feel like most other PM jobs are a breeze haha I’ve been in interviews of PM jobs in other industries and I couldn’t believe how “simple” the flows were. Now I understand that it’s the payments industry that has flows so extremely complex
I did Product on Fintech, and switched to Program. Mainly because it’s an operational role with one customer, our company’s finance and accounting departments and their organically home grown proprietary old as shit all custom system. We are switching to an out of the box solution, but that is taking years because of all the automation that has to occur in our Fx departments as we go.
There’s a lot, A LOT, of trust that has to be built when these guys can go to jail if they report the wrong numbers. They think engineers do arcane witchcraft and don’t care about absolutes.
If you can get them to trust your testing, that’s half the battle. Good luck!
Hey! I’m a conversational AI Fintech Product Manager. Our customers are various banks and credit unions.
In the 10 months that I’ve worked here, there hasn’t been even a single day where I was idle. Mainly I’m working on driving new product lines from spec stage to production release.
Also, I’m setting up metrics and dashboards for the existing product/features. Working on the A/B testing process for the things that will be released soon.
I haven’t had the chance to do market research yet as my hands are full driving the existing roadmap. But it’ll happen soon. Also, there are many calls with customers that sparks new things.
This is my first stint as a Fintech Product Manager and yeah my hands are pretty full. FYI I know a fellow PM in a micro loan fintech who goes through the similar drill as I do. But, there aren’t as many product lines. So his main focus right now is on conversions.