In a financial services career that dates back to 1983, Lou Anne Alexander has experienced many upheavals of the status quo of payment technology.
But few have had more meaning for the group president of payments at Early Warning than her current focus on younger consumers.
"One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned revolves around the preferences our younger generation have for technology experiences," said Alexander, who has been named one of PaymentsSource's 2017 Most Influential Women in Payments. "Growing up digital, they expect fast, simple and safe solutions."
Studying the likes and dislikes of younger consumers has helped Alexander and her team shape major payments products.
"We’ve done so much more user testing to best apply these lessons to our experience design for huge initiatives, such as Zelle," Alexander said of the venture that Early Warning obtained through its acquisition of clearXchange, a bank-backed person-to-person payments network.
Zelle has been positioned in the industry as the banks' answer to third-party P-to-P payment options that have been piquing the interest of younger consumers, but with less emphasis on social media sharing and more focus on trusted bank brands and keeping payments private.
"It’s this fresh approach to thinking about how technology can blend seamlessly into your life that I’ve come to appreciate from all the younger colleagues I work with," said Alexander, who has been in her current role for nearly a year and also spent close to eight years as the chief market development officer at Early Warning.
Regardless of which types of consumers Early Warning is seeking to appeal to with certain products, Alexander feels her skill of "reading" an audience has guided her vision and will play an important role in the future. It's a skill she refined early on.
"I believe my focus in this area has had a tremendous impact on influencing people throughout my career," Alexander said. "As a young professional, I presented to groups often, and I had a great mentor who encouraged me to watch body language and track my audience."
That sense of awareness helped Alexander understand "how people felt about the information being presented or discussed, and allowed me to adjust my communication accordingly."
Prior to coming to Early Warning, Alexander had senior vice president roles at Wells Fargo Bank for five months and was also SVP at Wachovia Bank from 2000 to 2008.
Her banking experience dates back to 1983 when she started a 16-year stint as a senior vice president for First Union National Bank.
Because she works so closely with payments technology, Alexander understands that her company's focus on consumer safety is critical. In fact, she calls consumer safety "one of my biggest concerns outside of payments."
"Information is so readily available, and consumers are exposed to risks such as identity theft when they least expect it," Alexander said. "I believe that cyber crime is going to unfortunately play a bigger role in people’s lives, and I’m passionate about helping mitigate some of these risks."