Discover Financial’s Emerging Payments Chief Departs for Barclaycard
Farhan Ahmad, who headed U.S.-based Discover Financial Services’ prepaid and emerging payments units, including its nascent NFC and contactless programs, has left Discover for UK-based issuer Barclaycard, NFC Times has learned.
Ahmad will assume a leadership position in digital payments for Europe at Barclaycard, the credit card issuing and acquiring unit of Barclays bank. Barclays is the most aggressive UK financial institution in rolling out contactless cards and terminals. Barclaycard was the first issuer to launch contactless card payment in the UK, in September 2007, and also was the first bank to introduce NFC payments in the country, with its small Quick Tap commercial launch with telco Orange UK, in May of 2011.
Ahmad worked at Discover for nearly six years. Besides prepaid his work there included overseeing Discover’s Zip contactless program and planning for the payment network’s NFC and EMV rollouts. He also worked on possible use of open-loop payment cards and contactless payment applications on mobile phones to pay transit fares.
Discover rolled out few contactless cards and stickers supporting Zip during Ahmad's tenure, though he ensured that the application is supported on most contactless terminals in the U.S. that also accept competing contactless brands, Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass and American Express ExpressPay.
Discover also was an early partner of the Isis mobile operator joint venture and had been intending to provide the merchant-acceptance piece for plans by the carriers to launch their own payment scheme at the point of sale with NFC phones.
The telcos later abandoned that plan, in part because they couldn’t sign up enough merchants. Discover has since agreed to support Isis along with the three other major U.S. payment networks.
Barclaycard US, Barclaycard’s small U.S. credit card unit, is one of at least four issuers that have agreed to make their applications available for the Isis Wallet, which is to launch as a trial in two cities this summer.
Ahmad will be focused on digital payments, including contactless and NFC, for Barclaycard in the UK and Europe. It's unclear what his title will be or where he will fit into the chain of command. Tom Gregory, head of digital payments for Barclaycard consumer in Europe, will continue in the role and will report to Ahmad.
Discover is looking for a replacement for Ahmad, who had reported to senior vice president Beth Horowitz, said a source. Troy Bernard, who heads up Discover’s NFC and global EMV programs, and had reported to Ahmad, will report directly to Horowitz until Ahmad’s position is filled.