As we wrap up an eventful year, our team has something big to celebrate alongside the arrival of 2022: our first year together as Onbe. This time twelve months ago, we had just merged two leading disbursement fintechs to create a brand representing a new class of fintech: one built to manage and modernize consumer and workforce disbursements. Of course, this happened amid the pandemic at a time when employees from our Philadelphia, Chicago, and London offices were mostly working remotely. Coming together as one company was not without its share of challenges, but meeting the unique conditions of 2021 and the accelerating demand for digital payments across the commerce landscape has made us stronger and better equipped for the future of payments.
I’m amazed by the progress the past year has brought. Whereas 2020 was all about businesses scrambling to adapt to the immediate challenges of pandemic life—in many cases, by implementing digital technologies—2021 was a chance to reflect on what we have learned from the acceleration of digital-first practices. At Onbe, we’ve thought a lot about ways that payments can better fit how we live, work, shop, and connect. For most of us, the ideals of flexibility, convenience, and choice are central to our modern lifestyles. That’s true when it comes to deciding where our careers will take us—more than ever, to companies that enable hybrid work and other flexible options to fit our busy lives. And it’s true for the brands we frequent—increasingly, those that demonstrate a customer-first mentality by making it seamless to engage and get what we need quickly.
In the payment acceptance world, where I spent much of my career before joining Onbe, innovation has been breathtakingly fast over the past couple of years. You may have noticed more companies adopting contactless payment capabilities, implementing online food and grocery ordering, or integrating voice technology to make payments even more seamless. Many of these advances have helped to ease the burden of life amid the pandemic, empowering us all to make the daily choices that are best for us and our families.
The way we receive payments should also fit our new and evolving behaviors. But B2C disbursements comprise a domain where many companies continue to fall short. When a consumer is owed a payment, many businesses still cut a check—even though that’s far from the most convenient payment method for recipients. This poses a double standard and leads to inconsistency throughout the customer experience. After all, if customers can choose how they pay, they should have the same flexible options for choosing how they receive funds such as refunds, incentives, or contractor payments.
One of our founding principles at Onbe is that there is a better and more customer-friendly way to pay, and we offer the platform businesses need to give recipients the payment experience they deserve—without the high costs and complexity of managing disbursements in-house. With the capabilities necessary to deliver digital-first payments at scale, businesses can better meet the expectations of their customers and workforces and ultimately strengthen these critical relationships. Anything organizations can do to operate leaner, greener, and with people-centric values is another inch of progress gained as we continue to navigate the challenges of living and working during COVID-19.
Of course, it’s essential to practice what we preach, and at Onbe, we made 2021 the year of becoming an even better place to work. A few of our many new initiatives for employees include a work-from-anywhere policy, unlimited paid time off, and expanded learning and development programs. True to our legacy of innovation, we have also made investments in our technology that will enhance the employee experience and help us fulfill our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Just to name two examples, we recently started using Payfactors, a compensation analysis tool that will enable us to ensure our payment practices are competitive and fair, as well as Textio, a platform that assists in writing more insightful and inclusive hiring content to ensure our job descriptions are free from biased language. We are proud that in 2021, we hired 67 employees, 60% of whom identify as female and 43% of whom are People of Color.
As I reflect on another pandemic year, I find that what continues to strengthen businesses and communities during this difficult time is a commitment to moving forward—which means growing, improving, and reevaluating beliefs and practices we used to take for granted. At Onbe, we’ve taken many big leaps as we merged our various solutions, tools, teams, and processes to create one company, but there’s still a lot to be done and so much more we want to accomplish together in the coming years. And although the business community has adapted to our pandemic reality in amazing ways, there’s still more that needs to change to meet our society’s evolving ideals—such as those relating to work-life balance, sustainable business practices, and building customer-first experiences.
To that end, we have an exciting roadmap in place, including new products to enable faster ACH payments, seamless global remittances that will empower payment recipients to transfer funds across borders, and improved tools for combating fraud. Over the coming year, we’ll continue to listen closely to our clients and their payment recipients in order to build solutions and experiences that make their lives easier. We’ll keep expanding our services to industries that are on the precipice of shifting from checks to digital disbursements and help them achieve the transformative benefits of digitalization. And internally, we’ll launch new initiatives to make Onbe an even better place to work—a company that celebrates diverse identities and supports employees in realizing full and rewarding lives both in and out of the office.
I think that 2022—at least, in the payments world and at Onbe—will be all about expanding and fine-tuning the progress we’ve had to make so quickly over the past year. I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve achieved in 2021, but I’m more than ready to usher in the new year and dive into the new challenges and opportunities still to come.
Bala Janakiraman, Chief Executive Officer
At Onbe, Bala is focused on helping the team realize its full potential by aligning strategy, talent, culture, and investments.