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How to get a job in payments: The former back-office team turning into royalty

The competition in the payments technology space is heating up. While payments teams at fintechs like Wise and Revolut are growing, banks are hiring developers with payments expertise too. Suddenly, developers with expertise in payment systems are in big demand. 

The stock of engineers with payments knowledge has come a long way in recent years. Michael Abdul, director of fintech recruitment firm Volition, says the payments function was "one of the first to be offshored" and had a reputation for being "very back office." Not any more. Goldman Sachs' transaction banking service, TxB, is one of the bank's most lauded teams, and HSBC cited its own transaction banking team for a 4% increase in fees last year. Citi CEO Jane Fraser called its services division the company's "crown jewel," and is expected to showcase the division to investors in a few months. 

Abdul says the payments area has become inundated with "interesting engineering problems," including APIs, crypto wallets, and "low-code solutions for small businesses." 

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The big shift has been towards real-time payments. Abdul says payments teams are "pulling people from traditional capital markets firms" for their experience with this. Mariam Darsavelidze, IT recruitment director at Augmenta says companies are additionally looking more into the "integration of AI technologies" to avoid being "overshadowed" by the young-guns in fintech. Expertise in either of these goes a long way.

As the payments landscape evolves, it's less stuffy than other areas of banking. Abdul says payments is "dominated by young tech firms and tech cultures" breaking free of its "older corporate banking" past.

So what's the catch? Well... the work may not be all that exciting. Plaid and Stripe are two of the largest payments fintechs in the world, and executives at both firms have referred to the work they do as "unglamorous."

Pay for payments specialists 

You don't need to work at a top fintech to get paid in payments; banks also pay their payments staff quite well. A principal architect for payments in New York can earn a salary of up to $285k. It's not the only place to earn big, however. Citi's hiring for a hybrid program management SVP in payments with a salary of up to $245k.

JPMorgan payments alumni seem to be in particularly high demand. HSBC has just hired Jit Mavi after 16 years at JPMorgan, where he was tech lead for its direct custody and clearing program. RBC, meanwhile, has hired Andy Joyce as a managing director. Joyce spent 12 years at JPMorgan and was a North American product head in FX payments, but was most recently a senior director at PayPal.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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