Apr 3, 2024

Simone Joyce: Breaking Barriers in Payments, One Smart Agreement at a Time

Shaping the future of payments with Paypa Plane

Simone Joyce: Breaking Barriers in Payments, One Smart Agreement at a Time

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For many, finance can feel like a walled garden. Simone Joyce knows this all too well—and she's carving a door open for everyone. Starting in Brisbane, Australia, and now making waves in the U.S., Simone has worn many hats, from event manager to travel consultant to the CEO of Paypa Plane. With a background that zigzags through roles as diverse as operations manager at Gymboree Play & Music to a strategic pivot into fintech, it’s clear Joyce isn’t one to follow a straight path—unless she’s forging it herself.

Let's get into how Joyce and her brother Jonathan Grant saw a gap in the recurring payments market and decided not just to fill it but to reinvent it. Their brainchild, Paypa Plane, tackles the perennial nuisances of failed payments, hidden fees, and the labyrinthine compliance issues plaguing both businesses and consumers. But Joyce didn’t stop at identifying problems. She engineered Smart Payment Agreements™, a first-of-its-kind solution designed to streamline the transaction process, ensuring transparency and control aren’t just buzzwords but built into the fabric of how we handle recurring payments.

Imagine moving your family halfway across the world in the pursuit of innovation. For Joyce, uprooting from Australia to the U.S. wasn’t just a strategic business move; it was a sign of her commitment to bringing change in financial services.

And it’s paid off: through Paypa Plane, Joyce has achieved more than just business success; she’s become a voice in fintech, challenging the status quo and advocating for better consumer experiences. Her work has not gone unnoticed, with accolades like the Highly Commended Sue Wickenden Entrepreneurial Start Up award and the Outstanding FinTech Leader of the Year recognition underscoring her influence and leadership. She is also set to speak at this year’s Money 20/20 Asia in April, which we discuss more below.

But beyond the awards and the accolades, Joyce’s narrative offers a glimpse into the evolving relationship between technology and finance. It's a story of how personal experiences can lead to professional waves.

The entrepreneurial journey isn’t just about climbing the corporate ladder; it’s about building a new one. Simone’s journey from event management to navigating payment gateways tells us one thing: in the digital age, the most powerful currency is innovation.

Before founding Paypa Plane, you explored diverse fields ranging from event management to travel consultancy. How did these experiences shape your journey into fintech and the creation of Paypa Plane?

I actually think coming into the payment industry with minimal payment specific knowledge enabled me to think a little bit ‘outside of the box’. If I had years of experience and long-held opinions about the ‘ways things work’ then quite possibly we wouldn’t have had the ability to think so differently about solving the problems we wanted to solve—or maybe we would have been far too daunted to try!

Having a broad range of experiences has helped me to be more dynamic as we ride the rollercoaster of early-stage life. It has also helped me to build more context into some of the problems we are solving as I have experienced them from different perspectives on the user map. Most importantly though, coming into fintech from ‘outside’ the financial services industry had allowed me to remain very curious. I don’t have decades of experience so I ask more questions and think more laterally. I hope I always remain curious.

What was the defining moment or gap in the market that led you to co-found Paypa Plane? Could you share the story behind its inception?

I had a poor experience with some child care provider fees. These payments were on a scheduled arrangement and the child care provider had my debit card on file to charge. Unfortunately, I lost that card and needed to cancel it. This was back in 2017. I called the child care provider who took my new card details down over the phone (eek). 3 days later, I looked at my bank account and found a $25 failed payment fee…from the child care provider’s payment services provider! There are so many things that went wrong here and, whether I was paying with a card or a bank account, the same process would have applied.

Though $25 seems quite a small amount, when you think about the payment that was due (around $60), it’s crazy. It became even more of an issue when I realized that the child care provider was not actually receiving any of the $25 failed payment fee.

As I investigated this issue, I realized that this was a symptom of a ‘recurring payment’ industry built on opacity, dated systems, and underserved consumers and business. At the same time, real-time payments and Consumer Data Right (Australia’s Open Banking framework) were just beginning. It was time for a complete re-think and that’s what Paypa Plane was about.

In your upcoming panel at Money 20/20 Asia titled 'Regulatory Maze: Navigating Challenges in Cross-Border Payments,' you'll be discussing the complexities of international payment regulations. What do you see as the most significant regulatory hurdles for fintechs in facilitating efficient cross-border payments, and how can these challenges be overcome to foster a more integrated global payments ecosystem?

Innovation should never wait for regulation but, in the case of payments and closely related open banking, in order to grow in a stable and efficient way, appropriate regulation is critical. Australia is working through a multi-year reform to our payment systems regulations and changes are designed to ensure safety, stability, protection and, critically, innovation in our payment systems.  

This is wonderful, but, we live in an increasingly global economy and people and businesses increasingly transact across borders. Fintechs want to grow across borders too, or support commerce across borders. Navigating each country’s regulatory architecture is one of the most important factors to consider. The most significant things to consider are:

  • Access to payment systems — can you access payment systems directly, do you need a sponsor, and what does this look like in practice and over time?
  • Data laws and privacy — where should you store data, for how long, and how should it be or not be transported across borders?
  • Structure — what should your entity look like, who is liable, and how does that introduce or mitigate risk?

As the first female Chairperson of Fintech Australia, what advice do you have for women in the fintech world?

My advice is simple — the more women we have in fintech the better our collective financial landscape will be for all of us. Don’t think about ‘why not’ to join or start a fintech, think about why you should say ‘yes’ and the possibilities that concept offers. There are always reasons not to do something and sometimes they sound louder than the possibilities of actually doing it. We need to get better at paying attention to the possibilities because fintech is simply full of possibilities.

With Paypa Plane expanding its footprint beyond Australia, including into the US market, what strategies are you employing to adapt and succeed across diverse markets?

We have taken a very measured approach. It’s no accident that I, as the CEO, am the first person in the US market. We have some critical things to get right at these early stages in a new market and I am best placed to deeply understand where Paypa Plane and Smart Payment Agreements™ can make the most impact, where we should (and should not) be spending our time and who the best initial partners might be. I still spend a good deal of my time working with the Australian market and running the whole company which is located in Brisbane, Australia. So, our adoption strategy is to invest some human capital (in the form of me) to get our approach right before we invest more heavily.

Drawing from your experience as a serial entrepreneur and leader in fintech, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to innovate in the payments space?

It’s a very interesting moment for payments. In so many markets all the established processes and systems are changing - liability models, access models, speed, rails and value chains. These types of changes do not happen in short cycles. These are once in a generation changes (maybe once in multiple generations) so, if you are considering innovating in payments, know where the ball is going, think carefully about where you bring new value and how that value will be enhanced or limited by the changing regulatory environments. Then go build!

You've been actively involved in advisory groups for Australian payments regulatory bodies. How do you navigate the complex regulatory landscape, and what changes do you anticipate or advocate for in the regulatory environment?

I think the key thing is to ensure that governments and regulators appreciate the economic significance of fintech and payment innovation, not just on the daily lives of consumers and businesses but on national productivity and GDP. With that in mind, it makes sense to ensure that regulations make room for innovation. Without going into specific regulatory changes, I advocate for innovation having a voice in the conversation with regulators and government (FinTech Australia is one example of an industry body who creates that voice). I also advocate for regulatory strategy. Payments do not exist in a vacuum, nor does data privacy, nor does open banking, nor do KYC/AML considerations. We can’t afford to take a deeply siloed approach to these things. In order to stimulate growth and support innovation (and the incumbents for that matter), regulators and governments also need to be innovative in their approach. Regulators typically ensure that systems are safe, stable and offer protections and certainly no one wants innovation without safety, stability and protection, but, we should be equally wary of safety, stability and protection without the possibility of innovation.  ❖

Catch Simone at Money 20/20 Asia, April 23 - 25th, 2024.

Image courtesy of: Money 20/20 Asia

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