This month, the Federal Reserve named Mark A. Gould as chief payments executive of Federal Reserve Financial Services. As the System’s first chief payments executive, Mark will lead the delivery of financial services and the Fed’s strategic improvement efforts for the payments system.
In his new role, Mark will oversee Federal Reserve Financial Services (FRFS), which delivers payments services to financial institutions across the country in the areas of FedLine® Solutions, Fedwire®, National Settlement, FedCash®, FedACH® and Check Services.
In addition to delivering this suite of payments services, Mark will lead the Fed’s strategic improvement efforts for the payments system. This includes guiding our transition to an increasingly integrated set of Federal Reserve payment services, paving the way for the smooth market entry of the new FedNowSM Service in 2023, as well as other large-scale technology programs in progress.
The chief payments executive position is the first of its kind in FRFS. The careful search for a candidate began last year amid accelerated changes in the payments landscape spurred by payments innovation and COVID-19.
Mark has been an instrumental leader and part of the Federal Reserve System for nearly 30 years, previously serving as chief operating officer and first vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and national cash product director. His extensive financial services experience makes him well-versed in the evolving, dynamic needs of the payments industry.
We asked Mark five questions about the new position and the current state of our payments system.
Q: The FRFS chief payments executive position is newly created. What need does it fill?
A: The payments landscape has evolved more in the past few years than many would have thought possible even a decade ago. For the Federal Reserve to continue its position as a major provider and leader in the payments industry, we must take the right steps to keep pace with this tremendous growth and transformation. As an organization, we saw an opportunity to structure our teams intentionally to continue building and strengthening internal collaboration. I see my role as an opportunity to connect our payment services through an enterprise lens that will deliver a unified, cohesive experience for our customers.
Q: What are some key challenges and opportunities in leading such a vast product offering within payment services?
A: I see the diversity of our financial services — including FedLine Solutions, Fedwire, FedCash, FedACH and Check Services — as a challenge and an opportunity. There are many moving parts involved in delivering such a wide range of payments services to customers, and we have to continually push ourselves to deliver them in the most effective and efficient way possible. Breaking down silos and opening lines of communication between these areas will allow us to leverage talent and expertise across the organization. On that note, I know our extensive network of talent will position FRFS for long-term success and enable us to respond to customer needs with agility.
Q: What trends are you watching in the world of payments? How does that translate to the Fed’s work in the space?
A: Innovation in payments is always something that fascinates me, and there is certainly a lot going on. One trend I have been watching is the rise of faster, or instant, payments and its application to our global payments system. It’s clear that moving money faster is a priority for the industry and the Federal Reserve’s customers, and it is an area of focus for us as well. From a technological perspective, the pandemic has contributed to growth and increased innovation in the digital landscape as businesses and consumers find more opportunities to conduct transactions virtually.
At the same time, staying ahead of fraud in this evolving digital environment is more important than ever. This is top of mind for me, and something we must continue to think about alongside any technological advancements in the payments space.
Q: The FedNow Service is the first new payment service offered by the Fed in decades; how will it fit into the new FRFS structure?
A: The FedNow Service continues to be a priority for the Federal Reserve. At this time, oversight of FRFS initiatives will not include the FedNow Service, and that team will continue being laser-focused on bringing FedNow to market smoothly. However, the FedNow Service will eventually be integrated under FRFS after its launch in 2023.
Q: If you had to choose one business priority for your first year, what would it be?
A: My top priority is our customers’ top priority: more effective and efficient payment systems. This requires us, first and foremost, to listen to our customers. Maintaining a customer-focused approach allows us to understand the day-to-day experience of the financial institutions we serve. Having a strong familiarity with their unique needs, for example, allows us to continue making improvements in payment resiliency, efficiency and security. Maintaining a customer-first approach is a critical part of delivering the best products and services possible.