As banks, card issuers, processors, terminal makers and others involved in electronic transactions are well aware, many new software engineers would rather work for Google Inc. or a hot new start-up than enter the payments or banking industries.

To attract talented new workers and to make sure they are up to speed on the latest trends, banks and technology vendors work closely with universities to help prospective employees develop the right skills before they even look for their first job.

"There is completely a growing need that we see across our firm" to develop and attract new talent in this way, says Jill Pineiro, the global director of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s corporate development program.

Chase, which issues cards, processes payments and and acquires transactions for merchants, developed educational programs with Syracuse University that began in 2008 and the University of Delaware that began in 2010, committing more than $30 million over 10 years and $5 million over 5 years, respectively, to groom talent at each institution.

"It's great for us because they understand that JPMorgan is, yes, a financial institution, but it takes a tremendous amount of technology" to run, she says. The bank "needs help there."

Chase also offers students paid internships through technology hubs on each campus.

About three years ago, ATM maker NCR Corp. moved from Dayton, Ohio, where it was based for about 125 years, to Duluth, Ga. NCR's decision to move was based in part on its desire to draw design talent from academic resources, such as Georgia Tech and Clayton State University.

These partnerships also help NCR retain employees by furthering their education, says Mary Kynkor, NCR vice president of talent and organization effectiveness.

"People are looking for that investment from businesses," Kynkor says. They want to say, "Hey, this company really does care about me," she says.

Douglas Bergeron, chief executive of payment-terminal maker VeriFone Systems Inc., sponsors a scholarship for undergraduate women majoring in math, science, technology or engineering at Georgia State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The scholarship winners, who are also usually minority women, are paired with female technology executives who serve as mentors.

"The technology industry in general, but specifically start-ups, is just completely devoid of women," he says. "If you believe the notion that technology advances society, then we are only getting about 50% of the horsepower right now because there are very few technology businesses started by women."

Similarly, technology vendor and transaction processor Fiserv Inc. sponsors an honors class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, where undergrads work on real-world problems for the company.

"We want to show that there are some very cool aspects" to creating bank and payments technology, says Jonathan Nordhausen, Fiserv director of product management who works in Lincoln, Neb.

"We are almost taking the voice of a customer to the next level," says Nordhausen. "They are coding how they would want to interact with the bank … five years down the road."

The six-year-old program has produced mobile apps that have made their way to the marketplace, he says. The program's latest project, which is still in development, is a fnds-movement smartphone application for small-businesses and corporate customers.

A longer version of this article is at AmericanBanker.com.

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