Benjamin Hendrick, Director, Payments Product Counsel, eBay
How did you initially get involved in this practice area?
I started my career as an M&A attorney in private practice. But my first in-house job was at Amazon, where there was a willingness to put lawyers to work in areas where they may not have had prior experience. Among other things, I ended up working with Amazon’s gift card team on the sale of cards on Amazon’s site and I found that I enjoyed the mix of commercial and regulatory issues in the prepaid space. My next job, at Blackhawk Network, gave me the opportunity to go deeper into the world of prepaid while learning more broadly about payments in general. My role there was varied, encompassing commercial gift card agreements, processing agreements, card network matters, and M&A, among other things. Payments was part of the central mission at Blackhawk and I worked with, and learned from, some really sharp payments attorneys there. I really gained an appreciation of what it means to offer compliant, competitive products in a regulated space. Currently, I’m helping eBay build its managed payments program. I work closely with an array of product and commercial business teams, as well as regulatory and compliance counsel. At eBay I’m using everything I’ve learned in my previous roles and I’m learning something new almost every day. There is never a dull moment and the work is both exciting and meaningful.
Tell us why you love this area of the law?
You will rarely be bored as a payments lawyer. The explosion of new payments technology means that payments lawyers regularly get to work with innovative products. And the ever-evolving patchwork of state, federal, and international regulations means that new technology needs to be carefully crafted to comply with regulations that in most cases did not contemplate the technology in question. Add to that an expanding universe of potential commercial partners and you get a fascinating practice that blends technology law (including privacy and security matters), financial regulatory law, and unique contract negotiations. Aside from the interesting lawyering, paying for things is one of the most fundamental activities in human existence. It is personally and professionally satisfying to make that process easier and more secure for people.
What are the most interesting developments in the financial services sector for eCommerce, online and offline payments?
The growing use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies is one of the most interesting developments in Fintech. The adaptation of these technologies to existing payments infrastructure and government regulatory regimes presents a fascinating set of legal issues (as well as commercial and technological issues).