Monday, May 20, 2024

5 questions with Allison Shonerd

Allison Shonerd, managing director and head of Global Digital Disbursements in the Global Payments organization of Global Transactions Services at Bank of America, is focused on meeting the growing demand for payment solutions through innovation. 

Allison Shonerd, Bank of America

The $3.2 trillion bank’s noninterest expenses in the fourth quarter of 2023, which include technology spend, increased 14% year over year to $17.7 billion, according to the bank’s Q4 earnings release. 

With the growth in tech spend and focus on digital strategies, the Global Digital Disbursements payments solution continues to grow. In fact, the solution was launched in Canada on the bank’s CashPro platform in August 2023.  

In this interview with Bank Automation News, Shonerd discusses her approach to innovation and the roadmap for Global Digital Disbursements. What follows is an edited version of that conversation. 

Bank Automation News: Global Digital Disbursements is an emerging payment solution. How has the demand for and adoption of this digital capability grown? 

Allison Shonerd: The demand for digital business-to-consumer payment solutions has surged as companies face growing challenges with legacy paper-based processes — notably the proliferation of fraud — and as consumer payments are increasingly viewed as a way to compete and retain customer relationships. Global Digital Disbursements addresses these challenges and opportunities, leading to consistent growth year after year in client adoption, volume of payments disbursed and in use cases.  

The increased adoption in peer-to-peer payments is driving the pace of change in the B2C space, with the greatest adoption in the insurance, energy, and education industries, as a way of replacing costly checks that have faced increasing fraud.   

BAN: How does Bank of America approach innovation on Global Digital Disbursements Technology? 

AS: We will often start with a “proof of concept,” where we partner with our technology team to experiment and ideally prove our hypothesis that a solution is feasible and will address the customer need we’re trying to solve.  

Soon we’ll begin a proof of concept around identity as a means to enhance platform access and streamline payee payment experiences without adding unnecessary friction.    

Making things easier for our clients is a perennial objective of our innovation strategy, and this led to us embedding Global Digital Disbursements into CashPro, Bank of America’s platform that clients use for their transaction banking needs. Now Global Digital Disbursements clients have access to other innovations such as our self-service tool CashPro Chat with Erica, and the cash forecasting solution, CashPro Forecasting.   

BAN: What is Bank of America’s product development roadmap? 

AS: For the team that I support, the product roadmap is focused on three outcomes: to enable popular payment rails, to expand our global reach, and to offer value-add overlay services that mask the underlying complexity of digital consumer payments. For example, we’re planning to add to Global Digital Disbursements more real-time and alias-based payment schemes, such as international Pay to Card so that companies can make high-volume, low-value payments to customers’ enabled debit cards globally.  

Our clients play a crucial role in prioritizing what we develop since everything we do is driven by a desire to solve their needs. In recent times, those needs have included solutions that address security, transparency and ease of integration.    

BAN: Where does Bank of America stand in terms of Global Disbursements capabilities today, and where do you aim to be? 

AS: Global Digital Disbursements offers a robust suite of digital payment solutions to clients operating in the U.S. with disbursements through Zelle and PayPal, and internationally through PayPal wallets in more than 90 countries. In Canada, our solution is connected to the Canadian payments rail Interac, which also supports request for payment.  

In 2024, we’ll continue to advise our clients on best practices for transitioning to digital payments, and in the first quarter, we’ll introduce another disbursement option for payments in the U.S. 

BAN: How does your industry experience help guide your overall strategy and leadership style? 

AS: My team continuously evaluates industry trends and brings digital payment experiences to life for our customers, which requires foresight and discipline to deliver on both short- and long-term strategic initiatives. This has helped me to develop a leadership style that emphasizes professional curiosity and openness to new ideas, underscored by a focus on execution.  

I firmly believe that regular dialogue with customers and focusing on solving their challenges is key to staying on track in such an innovative time, and I couldn’t feel more fortunate to be part of the exciting evolution of payments in an increasingly digital world. 

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