Case Study » Pioneering Payoneer: CFO Bea Ordonez’ masterstroke in the world of fintech
Pioneering Payoneer: CFO Bea Ordonez’ masterstroke in the world of fintech
Bea Ordonez, Payoneer's unconventional CFO, is charting a unique course in the fintech world. Her early ascension to leadership, strategic partnerships, and commitment to underserved markets are shaking up the industry norms
In the world of fintech unicorns, it takes one to lead one.
Bea Ordonez is just that – a unicorn in her own right. At the age of 26, she stepped into her first CFO role, a feat that would make even the most seasoned professionals take notice.
This early leadership experience, coupled with her diverse background spanning law, accounting, and tax operations, has equipped her with a unique perspective and an ability to navigate the complex intersection of technology and regulation.
Today, she is the CFO of Payoneer, one of the fastest-growing tech unicorns to come out of Israel, driving growth and innovation in an era of economic uncertainty.
Established in 2005, Payoneer operates within the expansive cross-border payments and clearing market for small and medium-sized businesses.
Payoneer’s revenue model revolves around collecting commissions from cross-border payments made on its platform, which currently spans over 190 countries. In June 2021, Payoneer went public through a SPAC merger on Nasdaq, with a valuation of $3.3 billion.
Projections indicate that Payoneer aims to achieve approximately 30% growth by the end of 2023, resulting in revenues of $810-820 million – a cornerstone of Ordonez’s responsibilities.
The company began the first quarter of 2023 on a positive note, reporting a net profit of $8 million, partially attributed to interest income
Enabling the growth mindset
Ordonez was drawn to Payoneer because of its potential for growth and its commitment to serving underserved markets.
“We need to remain super customer-centric,” she tells The CFO. “We are focused on expanding and unlocking the value of our platform to really deliver a full suite of services to underserved SMBs in emerging markets.”
This focus on customer-centricity and serving emerging markets is a key part of Payoneer’s strategy under Ordonez’s leadership.
While Ordonez has only been in seat for a few months – she was appointed CFO in March this year – Payoneer has undergone a strategic pivot under her watch.
She notes that for the first few years in the market, Payoneer’s teams focused on identifying the early opportunities – building the network and infrastructure needed to capture cross border ecommerce flows being enabled by digital platforms. Then came the period under which it could leverage its platform to really drive growth.
The company is now focused on serving small businesses, especially those in emerging markets. “You have to be willing to live with a degree of ambiguity and build agile teams that are going to be able to pivot and respond,” she says.
Building partnerships for growth
Ordonez recognizes the value of partnerships in driving Payoneer’s growth.
“We benefit from having a long-standing partnership approach… and I think the key is to ensure that you have defined objectives for what you’re trying to achieve,” she says.
According to the company’s 2022 Annual Report, Payoneer has been building momentum with many different types of partners that deliver more value and improved customer experience for its customers and accelerate the cost-effective acquisition of new customers.
In recent years Payoneer has partnered with SaaS platforms, mobile wallets, banks, marketplaces, advertising platforms, accounting firms, logistics companies, and sourcing platforms, among others. Its most recent partnership has been with payment giant Mastercard.
Ordonez emphasizes the importance of aligning partnerships with the company’s strategy, saying, “You can take meetings all day many hundreds of them from all sorts of interesting FinTech players… but that’s not necessarily going to align to the strategy of the enterprise.”
Looking ahead, Ordonez has clear goals for the next 12 months. She wants to drive sustainable customer acquisition, enable growth in Payoneer’s B2B business, and make progress in the company’s platform transformation.
“Twelve months from now, our measure of success will be: did we really drive sustainable customer acquisition of the right kind of customers in the key markets where we want to grow? Did we enable growth in our B2B business?” she says.
“And, as I’ve said, did we add products and services that better serve the needs of those customers.”
Payoneer is investing in its future by focusing on its B2B business and broadening the range of products and services it provides to SMBs.
B2B transactions typically pass through multiple sequential financial institutions along their journey; Wire transfers and other cross-border payment methods, which can take as long as five days to arrive, are ill-equipped to keep international vendors and other partners happy.
Ordonez sees this as a key part of Payoneer’s growth strategy. “We’re going to look to drive increased monetization of our client portfolio, through greater adoption of our existing products and by delivering enhanced functionality and innovation in our product set.,” she says.
Ordonez is not afraid to embrace innovation. She sees potential in blockchain technology and is open to experimenting with new tools.
“You’ve got to experiment and learn along the way and have a culture and an organisation that’s open to making those kinds of investments,” she says.
Balancing innovation with economic uncertainty
The next few months will not be easy for Payoneer, however. Like many tech firms, it too has joined the list of those having to announce job cuts.
In July, Payoneer’s leadership team announced it would be looking to cut around 10% of its staff to enhance productivity and efficiency while streamlining the company’s organisation structure to better align with its growth goals.
“Our key is to focus on what we can control,” Ordonez says.
“I can’t control consumer spending or interest rates, what we can control is remaining intently focused on executing on our priorities, on driving acquisition, on delivering on our product roadmap, on really drilling into the processes and operations that will drive better efficiency through the organization.”
For senior business professionals who believe age and tradition define wisdom, Ordonez’s story is a wake-up call, proving that sometimes, the unconventional path leads to the most exciting destinations.