Slideshow 8 Offbeat Career Paths of Payments Professionals

  • November 22 2013, 4:00pm EST

Many of the payments industry's longtime veterans and new entrants started their careers in other industries or founded their companies with a different purpose in mind. Here are some highlights from the many diverse career paths in the payments world. (Image: ShutterStock)

Don Kingsborough

Before playing a key role in bringing PayPal to the point of sale, Don Kingsborough created a popular talking teddy bear called Teddy Ruxpin. The toy was originally meant to be a licensed version of Disneyland's Country Bears Jamboree. He was also involved in bringing the Nintendo Entertainment System over to the U.S. from Japan. (Left image: Matthew Olson)

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Ginger Schmeltzer

Fiserv's SVP of emerging payments had "four jobs in five years" before entering a payments consulting role. "I spent six months working as a dive instructor in the Caribbean. I spent six months studying Chinese in Beijing," Schmeltzer says.

Seth Priebatsch

SCVNGR, the company behind LevelUp mobile payment system, was originally focused on digital games and social networking. This heritage is still apparent in the game-like design of the LevelUp app. Priebatsch, who insists on being called "chief ninja" instead of CEO, launched the company in his freshman year at Princeton University and dropped out shortly thereafter.

Alex and Nic Meliones

Alex Meliones originally planned to go into medicine, and worked at a non-profit called The Monday Life, which helps hospitalized children. She switched gears to found BitWall with her brother Nic, who has a background in banking. Their company supports alternative payment methods for online content, such as granting access to articles after readers tweet a link to the story. It also supports micropayments through Bitcoin. (Pictured: Alex (left) and Nic Meliones)

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Harvey Brothers, Alan Reiner

The Bitcoin community has attracted many entrepreneurs from outside the payments industry. The Harvey brothers, inventors of a Bitcoin ATM, used to run a guitar shop. Alan Reiner, inventor of the Armory bitcoin wallet, had a career in missile defense systems. (Pictured: Zach Harvey; Image: Talbot Snow)

Chris Larsen

Prior to heading the Ripple digital currency exchange network, Chris Larsen brought a unique concept to the financial services world: person-to-person lending. His company, Prosper Marketplace, was designed to be an "eBay for money," where any person could lend money to anyone else – including to people who had been turned down by banks.

Samwer Brothers

Payleven is one of many mobile card readers offered in Europe – and it's no surprise that it entered a crowded market. The Samwer brothers, the German entrepreneurs behind Payleven, have so frequently competed head-on with established players that they have been dubbed the operators of a "clone factory."

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Michelle Peluso

The CEO of the online shopping site Gilt and a former executive at Citigroup, Peluso wasn't always in the financial services and shopping industry. She was previously CEO of Travelocity, which she joined after it purchased the travel site Site59, which she founded. (Image: Bloomberg News)