For one of her bank's largest and most important forays into digital transaction technology, JPMorgan Chase's Jennifer Roberts turned to the people most in tune with the next era of financial services.
"It was very important to get input and feedback from our younger colleagues as we developed Chase Pay," said Roberts, president of strategic alliances and loyalty solutions for JPMorgan Chase and one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2017. "Digital solutions are second nature to the millennial generation, so it's important we listen."
A lot is riding on Chase Pay's success. It's a big play for the financial services giant, as it seeks to fill the void in the merchant-focused mobile wallet market left by the Merchant Customer Exchange's suspended CurrentC mobile payment system.
JPMorgan Chase has put years of work into Chase Pay, dating to an earlier merchant services initiative with Visa called ChaseNet. As Chase Pay's development progressed, the input from younger staff was accompanied by an investment in LevelUp, a mobile payment company with youthful leadership.
"With my tenure in the industry, it’s great to get fresh perspectives from younger colleagues, both at JPMorgan Chase and our partners. A great example is our partner Seth Priebatsch from LevelUp," said Roberts. Priebatsch is LevelUp's CEO — or, as he prefers to be called, Chief Ninja.
Roberts' faith and openness to new ideas from new people is apparent beyond the Chase Pay initiative. Given the constant state of flux in the payments industry, fresh perspectives are vital to her leadership style. She says it’s refreshing to spend time with people who aren’t bogged down by thinking about how far we’ve come and bring new energy to inventing the future.
"The payments industry is going through tremendous change now, with even greater innovation on the near horizon," said Roberts, a graduate of Towson University who holds an MBA from the University of North Texas. Roberts has held a number of roles at Chase over the years, and was instrumental in the institution's early EMV strategy in the U.S. She was one of the executives that contributed to the bank's project to add chip cards to its Sapphire brand for travelers in 2013.
"One of my favorite aspects of working with younger colleagues is their natural tendency to think 'What if…' and to bravely identify new solutions that solve everyday problems consumers want and expect," she said. "They are less encumbered by the baggage of ideas that didn’t work."
Roberts has also shown an openness to new ideas and a nimbleness to take on unexpected challenges.
She keeps a Swiss Army pen, with all of the Swiss Army tools attached — a gift from a former boss with a note praising Roberts' Ability to tackle whatever came her way. "Beyond the compliment, my Swiss Army pen is special because I really respected this boss who taught me so much. It also reminds me that personal notes to people mean so much and can help carry them through challenging times."