Beverly Cole, Walmart

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Walmart’s a trendsetter for multiple industries, with retailers, banks and technology firms paying rapt attention to each new innovation that comes out of Walmart’s corporate campus in Arkansas or its innovation labs in Texas and New York.

Beverly Cole, one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments for 2020, bears the responsibility of integrating payments with the big box retailer’s overall strategy as senior director of Global Treasury.

As Walmart battles Amazon to dominate omnichannel retail and nudges deeper into building a stack of digital payment services, it will rely on the expertise Cole has accumulated over two decades working in the payments industry. Cole, who has been with Walmart for about a year, has also held senior roles at firms such as First Data, Verifone and JPMorgan Chase.

Read more: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2020

The move to Walmart was a new challenge. Walmart’s on the retailer side of the equation rather than the technology provider side, and the job — which covers government acceptance, global gift card and associate paycards — presented different leadership challenges.

“First Data afforded me the opportunity to lead all payments acceptance within Walmart. The risk was, while I was very familiar with each offering, the dynamic environment and enormity of each program created an atmosphere where I had to lead, maneuver both organizations and learn,” Cole said, adding the risk was also personal because she had to ask her family to move to support this career change. “They were willing to move, make new friends, go to a new school so I could take this opportunity.”

Building leadership skills requires consistency of performance and persistence adhering to commitments, Cole said.

“Leaders remember when you keep your word and work to fulfill your commitments. As your workload allows, volunteer to lead additional small tasks and projects that contribute to the success of your team,” Cole said.

Beverly Cole, Sr. Director of Global Treasury, Walmart
Beverly Cole, Sr. Director of Global Treasury, Walmart

As large as Walmart is, it’s not immune from the pressures all retailers face. The growth of e-commerce is causing traditional brick and mortar stores to close. The popularity of sharing apps such as Uber, which has an easy enrollment and transaction experience, is leading stores to reimagine how they attract consumers, market to them and manage ordering, transactions and fulfillment.

Walmart is experimenting at all ends of that chain, such as by offering new consumer incentives, and developing new uses for IoT, the cloud and AI. Walmart has also expanded its presence in emerging markets such as India; and has filed a patent application for a currency micromarket that could be an unattended retail environment where consumers purchase products from shelves, coolers and freezers. Walmart is also trying to patent an account-based system to reach consumers without traditional bank accounts.

New retail models such as Amazon Go’s checkout-free stores have put pressure on Walmart to innovate. Walmart must keep up as nontraditional firms target the retail industry with unconventional ways to shop and pay.

“The biggest change in the payments industry [in the next year] will be the entry and competition from non-banks, fintechs and other competitors as payments become more instant, invisible and less costly along with the growth in digital payments around the reliance on digital wallets,” Cole said.

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