Deborah Liu, Facebook
Facebook’s brand power and massive audience make it a lot like Walmart and Amazon, in that just about everything it does draws attention and a response.
So whenever Facebook adds something that more closely ties its network to shopping, service or payments, it has an immediate ripple effect, such as WePay using Facebook as a security tool or PayPal tying into Facebook for customer service.
Marketplace is becoming a major part of Facebook’s influence. Since its introduction in 2016, Marketplace has become a global venue for buying and selling, and launching a business, making transaction execution important as new users come on board.
“Payments is one of the most important and difficult challenges in building products,” said Deborah Liu, vice president of Marketplace for Facebook, and one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments for 2019.
In the past year, Marketplace has added myriad features such as AI, which is designed to make it easier to personalize the service for buyers—and to connect buyers and sellers.
AI is also being used to improve photos and translate listings and Messenger conversations. Messenger has become a major focus for Facebook, since it links to buy buttons and customer service.
The payment process isn’t just the “last mile” in this mix, but the glue that holds an entire omnichannel experience together. “You’re handling money on behalf of people, so the responsibility is enormous,” Liu said.
Facebook has increasingly become a venue to directly connect consumers to commerce. Facebook is inching closer to blockchain-powered transactions, reportedly started work on a stablecoin, started a pop up store initiative with Macy’s and is adding a personalized narrative to transactions through a collaboration with PayPal. That is in addition to moves by Facebook to pick up institutional support for its global payment technology, and forays into digital ID—both keys to extending financial services and digital commerce to new markets.
“I love that the work that we do can unlock economic opportunities for people to grow their businesses while also creating value in the world,” Liu said. “It’s a hard problem space, but that’s what makes the work so important.”
Liu, who has been with Facebook for nine years, is a veteran of digital marketplaces and payments. She held leadership roles at eBay, where she oversaw the product team. Liu also worked at PayPal as product director for the eBay business, social commerce and charity. She is currently on the board of directors at Intuit.
While at PayPal, she worked with Dan Shulman, PayPal's CEO, who demonstrated solid leadership, according to Liu.
“I worked at PayPal for many years, including leading the integration between PayPal and eBay after the acquisition,” Liu said. “It’s incredible to see where PayPal is today, especially after the separation of the two companies.”
Liu's experience has also provided a diverse outlook into solutions and team building, which are necessary as the retail, payments and marketing businesses quickly evolve.
"Fintech innovation happens because people see new problems we need to tackle and that requires us being willing to see the world in different ways," she said.
That not only help can companies automate, it can also extend financial inclusion around the world. “I think we underestimate how much emerging markets can be transformed by connecting people to financial services,” Liu said.
Much like logistics companies have created global trade networks that have made Coca-Cola ubiquitous, financial services can also have that impact, according to Liu. “We can learn to leverage technology to reduce the cost to provide financial services.”