InterviewFintech Interview with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Sezzle – Killian Brackey

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskJanuary 12, 202120 min

Killian Brackey, Co-Founder & CTO, Sezzle, discusses how Buy Now, Pay Later feature in payment solutions is empowering the newer generation, in this era of a pandemic
Killian Brackey Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Sezzle

Killian Brackey is the CTO at Sezzle. Prior to this Killian Brackey was the VP, Engineering & Co-Founder at Sezzle.

1. Can you tell us about your role at Sezzle?
Killian Brackey, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. I joined President, Paul Paradis, and CEO, Charlie Youakim, early on in Sezzle’s journey. As CTO, I oversee all aspects of the software and product development.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this industry?
Our journey into this industry began when we saw a huge gap in the market for consumers that fear credit card interest, debt, and fees yet still had the need for layaway purchasing. We saw the early acceleration of similar solutions in the Australian market yet no true pickup in the US payments industry. We wanted to bridge this gap for American consumers and introduce buy now, pay later to US shoppers. Since then, we have seen explosive growth in the US payments sector, especially following the recent financial crisis post-COVID creating an even greater need for interest-free financing solutions.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading the financial sector?
Technology has undoubtedly changed the finance industry as we know it. I was waiting on my debit card in the mail for a couple of days last week and I easily maneuvered every purchase I made using my digital wallet. When kids walk into malls nowadays, it’s not cash wadded up in their back pocket – it’s a 50 GB iPhone packed with a virtual wallet of payment methods. Technology has turned the payments sector on its head – creating an entirely new industry for companies like Sezzle to come in and bridge the gap between needs and solutions for shoppers. Technology has made shopping easier, not merely online but in-store as well. The checkout process is the stickiest piece of the shopper journey for retailers, its where they see the majority of users dropping off.

With new virtual payment solutions, the user experience is much more fluid.

Checking out with Sezzle takes mere seconds, and this ease of purchase is a huge win for retailers fighting abandoned carts.

4. How has an increase in digital transformation empowered alternative payment firms?
Like I mentioned, the digital transformation has created an entirely new industry. Twenty years ago, there were no “digital payments solutions.” Now, it’s perhaps the key sector in all of retail. The creation of this industry gave way to alternative payment methods, allowing companies like Sezzle to come in and create a solution for shoppers that not only benefits them but the retailer as well. It’s a two-way street that creates a better financial opportunity for both customers and merchants. Even in the last few months, Buy Now, Pay Later has seen a rapid acceleration of pickup in the US payments industry. This will continue to explode as payments continue on the path to becoming completely virtual consumption.

5. Can you explain to us in detail about how Buy Now, Pay Later option Engages the next generation?
Sezzle believes that how Gen Z grew up diverged them from previous cohorts- the combination of digital endimism and economic turmoil was the recipe for the unique and practical mind of the Gen Z consumer. Both Gen Z and Millennials have the lowest average credit card balance of all current ages. Additionally, over half of Gen Z has non-prime credit scores, making it difficult to obtain a credit card or take out a loan in the first place. These reasons constructed the forefront of why this era of consumers is finding alternative ways to pay.

Buy Now, Pay Later options are a solution to this problem among the younger generation because it bridges the gap between the desire to stretch payments out and the straying from credit. A recent study found that 51% of Gen Z members do not plan to apply for a credit card. Yet without credit, there is still the challenge of making payments over time when you find yourself strapped for cash. We noticed this gap in the market and bridged it by creating a digital payment solution that gives shoppers the ability to make payments over six weeks without any interest or fees. As our solution has grown, so has the demand from younger consumers on digital payment solutions of all kinds.

6. Do you agree that having a mobile application has become mandatory at least for payment platforms?
Yes. I think that especially for younger consumers, they need a payment solution to be in the palm of their hand. The majority of Sezzle purchases come through hand-held devices, reiterating the importance of mobile applications and just a consumer-friendly mobile user experience on all fronts.

7. How does Sezzle offer ‘Zero Risk’?
We do this by taking on all risk once the consumer purchases with Sezzle. We take on fraudulent purchases and all credit risk. The retailer is paid upfront and in full, while we wait for future payments from shoppers.

8. What features of your financing solution differentiates it in the market?
Sezzle differentiates itself from others in the space by actively pursuing our mission of financial empowerment. Unlike competitors, we make close to none of our profit from late fees, nor do we want to. We offer a free first rescheduling and charge only $10 for additional reschedules. Additionally, to further this mission, we have recently introduced Sezzle Up – a product feature that will allow our users to report their positive payment habits to the credit bureau and in turn, boost their credit score. This feature will give Sezzle shoppers greater experience in credit building, and we are excited to reward them for positive payment behaviors.

9. What advice would you like to give to the new technology Start Ups?
I would say buckle up because it’s not easy. The days will be long and competition is fierce, so you need to know why your solution is different and what makes it better. The most important part of your product will be the development and tech stack behind it. You need a brilliant team to build a user-friendly interface that can compete with those already in the market. Our original team at Sezzle was six people in a cramped office brainstorming over a whiteboard, but we were lucky to have some of the most brilliant minds in that room that helped build out our product into what it is today.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?

Technology will never stop growing. Even in the past ten years, the technological growth we’ve witnessed is mind-blowing. But like everything else, the industry will iterate.

We will continue to evolve our product alongside the uptake in AI. The productivity of our solution will increase and grow alongside AI, and I look forward to seeing future iterations of our product.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?

Our team is the secret to Sezzle’s incredible product. We have the most hard-working and creative minds from all over the world putting their genuine appreciation of our product and mission into use every day. We support each other across all departments and business ventures. Even as we expand to a multi-level downtown building brimming with nearly 200 employees and expand countries, the support is still as strong as it was in that six-person office. Our team works so hard because they whole-heartedly strive to fulfill the mission of financial empowerment we promise consumers and want to actively make a difference in getting that mission across the finish line.

12. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?

Fintech Interview with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Sezzle – Killian Brackey 1

Fintech Interview with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Sezzle – Killian Brackey 2

Fintech Interview with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Sezzle – Killian Brackey 3

FTB News Desk

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