'Fast' may not be the first word that comes to mind when describing her four-year journey to win over the country's largest banks, but for Jan Estep, it's a testament to the perseverance and negotiating prowess necessary to achieve a breakthrough in payments efficiency.
2015's passage of Same Day ACH will allow for the fast clearing and settlement of virtually any ACH transaction, a process usually referred to as "faster payments." But the effort to make this happen was anything but quick, as Nacha faced institutional pushback that dates as far back as 2012 and government criticism as recently as the past year.
Undaunted, Estep and her organization kept pushing, bringing together different sides of the issue to air concerns, iron out differences, and come to a deal.
"It was necessary that we brought diverse parties together and considered all the potential impacts, while addressing individual voices and concerns," said Estep. "That effort resulted in a new capability that will be implemented later this year, and one that will benefit all payments industry stakeholders, from financial institutions to consumers to businesses to government entities."
The result is a protocol that should help accommodate mobile commerce and digital payments, and pave the way for other innovations.
"In 2016, the industry will focus on removing friction from the payments process. This will include the continued mobile enablement of payments, developing to meet consumers' demands and to provide convenience and ease of use," Estep said. "Coupled with this development will be the increased use of information that flows with the payment. Having information flow with payments provides for exchange of great value about the payment itself."
Nacha's Payments Innovation Alliance recently launched a Mobile Wallet Workgroup to bring stakeholders together to support and advance the use of retailer- and bank-branded mobile wallets. Additionally, last year, Nacha implemented the WEB credit to support P-to-P payments on mobile devices.
It's a challenging schedule for the association, which will rely on Estep's managerial skills, which she has been honing since working for a Twin Cities-based environmental lab early in her career. From there, she moved to U.S. Bancorp and has never looked back while building a high profile in the financial services, quickly scaling learning curves at each stop.
"Women at all levels — and within companies across many different industries — should seek out opportunities to engage with others through both formal and informal mentoring," said Estep, who has been honored by PaymentsSource in previous years as one of the Most Influential Women in Payments. "Formal, employer-driven mentoring programs can be quite valuable and offer a tremendous opportunity for a hands-on, on-the-job learning experience like no other."