Lou Anne Alexander, Early Warning

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Driving rapid consumer adoption of faster payments and the bank-run person-to-person payment network, Zelle, has been a core role for Early Warning’s Lou Anne Alexander over the past decade.

Alexander, one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2019, has been the chief market development officer for Early Warning since 2009 became group president of payments in 2016. She played a key role in the company’s acquisition of clearXchange, which provided important infrastructure for Early Warning to launch Zelle as a real-time P2P service and network offering.

“The most exciting thing about payments is the impact it has on the life of every human on a daily basis. If you work in payments, you can observe the impact that you make every day. Payments enable almost every facet of life,” Alexander said.

When thinking about a payments executive that she admires the most it’s no surprise that Alexander picked a fellow visionary who built the Visa network, Dee Hock. He is the founder and former CEO of the Visa credit card association, which became the publicly traded payment card network Visa Inc.

“Dee suggested that banks create an association, a joint venture, to create a centralized payments system that would be a competitor and partner,” Alexander said. The Visa analogy is strikingly similar to how the Early Warning network was formed: a bank-owned network offering a new service to banks, credit unions and payment processors.

Over the past few years, Alexander has been tirelessly on the road meeting with clients, prospects and industry executives to promote the adoption and launch of Zelle.

She has spoken at conferences, been interviewed by media and hosted numerous talks about the value of the network and what it means to banks to be able to provide an alternative P2P service to Venmo, Square Cash and PayPal.

Alexander clearly understands that that banks are at risk of losing customer engagement and could suffer higher attrition as consumers eschew cash and checks for non-bank digital P2P payment services when sending money to friends and family. Selling the value of Zelle to banking executives has not been an easy task, despite her apparent success in doing so.

It’s this drive that can test the mettle of executives, forcing many to change their attitudes, beliefs and persona just to seek approval. Alexander believes executives should be true to themselves and offered this advice for female executives: “Never compromise who you are. So many women try to be like men."

She believes that women bring unique perspectives to the discussion table. “Leverage it. Make it what you are about.”

Family motivates her success, Alexander said. “North Carolina is my home and where most of my family lives. I get so much energy from my grandchildren, Maddie and Wyatt.”

READ MORE: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN PAYMENTS, 2019

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