In our On-Demand Pay Spotlight Series, we interviewed Saud Ben Khudair, Chief Strategy Officer at OrbisPay. Saud has been with OrbisPay for more than a year now and continues to add immense value to the company through his amazing ideas while leading the strategy and product department.
FinTech or financial technology has gained immense traction in the 21st century and the global pandemic has certainly contributed to this. Today, we have thousands of FinTech solutions that are bringing innovation to traditional ways of banking and payroll processes.
Increasingly, FinTech is heavily reliant on technology to enable their financial products, unlike the traditional financial services which were solely decision-driven and used technology only as an infrastructure. To facilitate this shift in the ecosystem and to better understand the challenges in doing so, an effective strategy becomes a key to bringing in innovative challengers to disrupt the status quo.
An excellent strategy should be data-driven and perfectly define the nature of the market, the customers, and the relevant product features. Our conversation got insightful as Saud spoke about his approach on driving the product strategy.
Saud and His Affiliation with OrbisPay
Saud carries almost 25 years of experience in building business and solutions. In the past, he has founded three organizations and loves to invest in products and services which are developed for the betterment of society.
“I’m a person who is always looking for challenges, new opportunities and ways to bring positive change in human’s lives.”
Saud connected the dots for us, when we asked him about what exactly drew him to OrbisPay, since fintech has been a new avenue for him. It was impressive to hear how the mission of OrbisPay instantly clicked for him.
“I was getting an opportunity to touch people’s lives and contribute towards their financial well-being. The concept of OrbisPay was enough to bring me here.”
Saud’s affiliation with OrbisPay started way before he officially joined in. He recalled meeting his dear friend Mo (founder and CEO) in early 2021 where the two exchanged words about what both of them were doing.
“I was in love with OrbisPay’s mission to democratize financial wellness for all. OrbisPay has been a love at first sight and a project that deeply resonates with me.”
Tapping into Today’s Financial Challenge
Today, 125 million American workers are living paycheck to paycheck (PYMNTS, 2021) and reassessing their jobs to meet the ever-increasing expenses in the face of inflation. The gap that exists between when and how employees are paid to meet the unexpected expenses in between their payday is huge. Due to this gap, many have to rely on short-term payday loans, or borrowing from friends and family when met with emergencies.
Being a key player for driving the product strategy, Saud touched base on how OrbisPay and other on-demand pay services are tapping into this avenue and working towards the liquidation of money that is accrued in employer payroll accounts. This is the only fair way to bridge the gap between the payday and daily expenses of employees.
On any given day, $1 trillion is accrued in employer payroll accounts. We need to liquidate these funds so that commoners can have access to their earnings. (Earenst and Young, 2020)
Saud beautifully identified the problem here, while referencing Earnest and Young who conducted their research about on-demand pay and mentioned tapping into the $1T opportunity. It’s only due to the lack of timely access to their wages that workers have to resort to predatory payday loans and fall into a financial riot.
Driving Product Strategy
Speaking to him about his role, Saud shared that it’s been amazing leading the product department. Looking at a system or a solution from a distance is entirely different than actually getting involved in developing a product that the user will leverage and connect with. At the end of the day, it’s a different ballgame.
“The learning curve has been amazing so far. Actually working on the product and developing something that’d be making an impact is completely different. And I’m grateful to the team for helping me achieve the end goal.”
Saud believes in achieving goals with utmost focus and dedication. He thinks that anything can be achieved as long as you put your mind and soul to it and are determined to make it happen. Crafting a product strategy is no different. As a key to success, Saud believes that entering the right market and investing in feature simplicity will ensure that the product meets its primary objective while remaining flexible.
It’s All About the End Goal
Saud always keeps his end goal in mind before diving into anything, whether it's crafting business strategies or doing something else. He added that shooting arrows in the dark hasn’t done good to anyone. The most successful people are always the ones who are mindful of the destination that they want to be at and we couldn’t agree with Saud anymore.
“Without having the end goal in mind is like mindlessly driving a car without knowing the destination. I make sure that I always have the end goal in my mind while crafting business strategies”
Saud reminded us about the life theory: Begin with End in Mind. The theory is all about seeking clarity, efficiency and purpose. Only then it’s possible to make your dreams turn to reality and help strategies to transform business growth.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Saud has spent nearly two decades in business, either as a founding member or on the board of companies. While chatting about the evolving business model and leading product strategy, we asked Saud about the key areas of strength at OrbisPay along with the areas that can be improved.
After having spent almost a year at OrbisPay, Saud beautifully summed up his thoughts about what it has been like working at OrbisPay. He identified the following three pointers as the strongest assets of OrbisPay.
“We are all like brothers and sisters to each other. Everybody is treated equally irrespective of their role or designation.”
“Starting as a small team and sailing together while seeing the company grow, I see that the processes are very transparent. We all celebrate our success and failure together which is great."
Everyone is Approachable:
“There are no communication gaps. Everybody is super responsive and you can speak to anyone and they are happy to help.”
Upon asking Saud about the areas that according to him can be improved, he replied as follows:
“The On-Demand Pay industry is relatively new. The regulations on fintech are constantly evolving. Hence, it’s significant that all of us are focused on one end goal to make sure our product is where we want to see it over 5 years time.”
On-Demand Pay Is the Future
“ With more and more workers demanding instant access to wages, employees are heading towards getting paid daily.”
While sharing how financial technology is evolving and speaking about ensuring safe and instant access to wages for employees, Saud mentioned how we are all heading towards the era of getting paid on-demand.
As the Earnest and Young reports:
“70% of individuals in the US and UK are financially stressed. Moreover, half of them have experienced financial shortfall between their pay-period.” (Earnest and Young, 2020)
Adding this percentage to the percentage of a financially stressed workforce due to rising inflation in the US, only makes the case for on-demand pay stronger.
On-demand pay services like OrbisPay are providing safer alternatives to payday loans by empowering workers with their own earnings. It’s helping people to meet their expenses with their own money and without having to desperately wait for payday to get the car fixed or pay an emergency bill.
Saud further added that there is a shift in the workforce, as well. Youngblood is replacing Gen X and Millennials. People of today are much more aware and equipped about their rights.
“61% of Gen Z’s want to get paid daily.” (Thier, 2022)
These statistics are also leading payroll companies to actively think about smoother integrations with on-demand pay service providers. Hence, we aren’t far from that time where every business would have on-demand pay as an employee benefit, letting employees break-free from the shackles of weekly or bi-weekly pay cycles.
While we did not want Saud to stop sharing his insights with us, we had to wrap up our conversation and let our readers do their own research. As an ending note, we asked Saud about his thoughts on leadership and any advice that he’d like to give to individuals who want to be the leaders of the future.
Leaders Eat Last
Leadership is a trait and not a skill or a role. Somebody could be an awesome manager but still not be a leader. Saud shared some excerpts from his favorite book, Leaders Eat Last, by author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek.
The crux of that book is to create a safe and healthy environment across the organization and especially for your team. It emphasizes seeing your employees as humans first and being empathetic towards them.
Saud added, for leaders, success lies in the success of their teams. There was a statement he made that’s worth highlighting here.
“Focus on improving yourself first. It's the light within that shines outside. A leader is one who can never compete with their team.”
These words were a beautiful conclusion to our interview session with Saud. We wish Saud and OrbisPay all the best for future years to come.