Driving the conversation for change: Spotlight on founder of PYMNTS.com - Karen Webster

Published: March 27, 2019

Leading up to Canada’s largest payments conference, we were excited to speak with one of our keynote speakers, Karen Webster.

Karen is the CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, where she works extensively with the most innovative players in the payments, financial services, mobile, B2B, digital media and technology sectors to identify, ignite and monetize innovation. She also serves on the boards of a number of emerging companies and is an entrepreneur herself, who has successfully founded and launched several new ventures including PYMNTS.com

We’re looking forward to hearing you present at the SUMMIT! Could you give us a sneak peek into what we’ll hear?

The focus of the conversation I’m planning to spark is about the changing roles of financial institutions and fintechs based on new expectations of the consumer. There is an interesting intersection of heightened consumer expectations given their emergence in the digital world. As a result, financial institutions are making new investments in infrastructure to create more opportunities, enhance service, expedite payments and provide a higher service level to meet consumer expectations. Fintechs are working to enable this change and also challenge current roles of financial institutions.

Stakeholders in the payments and financial services ecosystem have to figure out where they sit as roles evolve. These are interesting conversations that need to be realistic and direct in order to keep up with new definitions of banking services for consumers.

This sounds fascinating. What type of perspectives will you bring to this conversation?

I’ll discuss some of the work we’re doing here in the U.S to help everyone better understand the consumer perspective. I’ll also bring the angle of financial institutions in terms of their readiness and ability to meet consumers needs against the rising role of fintechs, who are growing stronger and gaining the consumers trust.

On the topic of the change, how can the ecosystem embrace the pace of progress?

It’s always easy as an ecosystem to say we don’t have this, or we don’t have that, or we have too much of this and not enough of that. Part of what’s missing is a framework for how to evaluate options. The pace of change in payments is so quick, we tend to react to what we see based on the volume of daily news. The tendency is to say wow, I’m behind, I’m ahead or maybe I’m missing out.

I think there's a great opportunity to understand how ecosystems operate, how markets perform and how platforms can succeed or fail. This will be part of what I discuss at the SUMMIT. As an ecosystem, we need to embrace frameworks and use them as a way to evaluate what’s relevant and what isn't. Otherwise we’re constantly chasing the next big thing but missing the opportunity to make that next big thing relevant for our organization.

These are definitely pivotal topics that as an ecosystem we need to address. What role do you think coming together at the SUMMIT plays in driving these conversations forward?

When there is honest dialogue between those with an interest for seeing financial services in the payments ecosystem be successful, the whole industry can move forward. The SUMMIT is the place to address these big ideas.

It’s also the place for sidebar conversations over coffee breaks, lunches and dinners. This is where some of the most important conversations happen that drive change forward. The entire SUMMIT agenda along with the conversation I’m hoping to generate allows an opportunity to talk about the transformation that we all want so desperately to be successful. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of this very important gathering, to meet everyone and to be at an event where I can not only stimulate conversation but be a part of it.