Donna Turner, Early Warning
Controlling fraud for U.S. banking’s first industrywide real-time payments network is not for the faint of heart.
As chief fraud policy and control officer for Early Warning, it’s Donna Turner’s job to ensure security when consumers enroll through the Zelle app, and protect consumers and participating banks when users zap payments to recipients at different institutions.
“I realized I had a passion for the challenge of staying aligned with the core product strategy, broad environmental threats, constantly challenging solutions and the human element of operations and experience, which all had to be bundled in quantitative analysis and monitoring to drive constant refinement of the tactical approach,” said Turner, who is honored as one of PaymentsSource’s for Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018.
It took her about 30 years to get there. Operating from a solid foundation of years in bank operations and debit product management positions—followed by deep immersion in fraud policy and controls in senior posts at Bank of America—Turner was ideally positioned to take the top fraud job at Early Warning in 2016.
“When I had the opportunity to become directly involved in the day-to-day operations of fraud risk, it was a game-changer,” Turner said. “Not only does this discipline test what you know about the core product solution, and the dynamics and optimization of servicing and operations, but it also tests your financial acumen to derive optimal and continual adjustments against what is happening today and anticipating what will happen in the future.”
At one point during the third quarter of 2017, 100,000 consumers were enrolling in Zelle each day, instantly generating tens of millions of new transactions, according to Turner.
The pressure is intense, and during tough days, Turner draws inspiration from women who have broken down professional barriers through skill and resiliency, including former top Wall Street executive Sallie Krawcheck, Citibank CEO Barbara Desoer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
“Resiliency manifests itself in so many different ways, but I find the fortitude of these women—in paving uncharted paths for women or conquering challenges of temporary setbacks—to be inspirational,” Turner said.
Day to day, Turner feels she’s blazing similar new trails as she and her team work to protect consumers’ money and keep the Early Warning network safe from fraud. “You must be resilient,” she said.
Acknowledging frustration with the limitations of the existing payments infrastructure, Turner said she was surprised in 2015 when the U.S. adopted the EMV payment card standards that were already falling out of date.
“I had hoped we were on a path domestically to leapfrog this technology with a more holistic solution,” she said, noting that legislative and global market pressure finally forced the U.S. chip-card liability shift. “One day we’ll look back and chuckle over our dependency on a physical chip to secure payments,” Turner added.
Today, Turner is riveted by cryptocurrencies and their potential to change existing financial services processes. Blockchain, the distributed ledger system that supports bitcoin, could also play a key role.
“From the unknown source of the original code to the advent and risk of the exchanges, to the potential of blockchain to transform traditional banking processes, cryptocurrencies are changing the financial services landscape,” she said.
Bias in the workplace is a challenge that won’t likely be solved overnight.
“I think bias exists on many levels, but it’s the subconscious and more discrete actions that I fear will take longer to tackle, such as compensation disparity,” she said.
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018