Marcell King Brings Passion and Payments Expertise to Tyfone
Updated: Oct 5
By John San Filippo
Digital banking provider Tyfone recently announced the addition of industry veteran Marcell King as the Portland, Ore.-based company’s new chief commercial officer. Finopotamus spoke with King to learn more about his background and how it formed his passion for financial technology.
King has nearly 30 years of experience in payments, banking, and financial technology. He turned a college internship into a full-time job with a company that built ACH and cash management software for community banks. He started with a territory of five western states. “There were two other sales reps that were covering all 50 states at the time,” said King. “My manager gave me the five West Coast states to see what I could do. I sold more software in that year from those five states than the other two sales reps combined.”
In 2007, after several successful engagements in the banking space, all related to payments, King took his skills and experience to Amazon as the online retailer’s senior manager of B2B gift cards sales. “We were selling Amazon’s digital gift cards in bulk to companies like American Express, Carlson, and Maritz – all of which were using Amazon gift cards in their incentive, loyalty and rewards programs. These were half a million, million-dollar deals selling bulk gift cards.”
King leveraged the experience gained at Amazon into the role of vice president of sales, product and international development with Giftango, a company that built a gateway into a wide range of gift card systems. Through an acquisition, that led to a stint at InComm, a company that developed and sold stored-value gift card products through grocery and convenience store chains like Smiths and 7-Eleven.
King got back into banking in 2014 when he accepted the role of Chief Innovation Officer at Payveris. When Payveris was acquired by Paymentus, he kept that same title. Finally, seeing a tremendous opportunity, he accepted the role of Chief Commercial Officer at Tyfone.
From Humble Beginnings
“I’m a first-generation college grad in my family,” King told Finopotamus. “My parents did not go to college. My grandparents didn't go to college. And I would not have gone to college were it not for my athletic skills.” King attended Boise State University on a football scholarship and graduated with a BBA in marketing with a finance emphasis.
King has three brothers, all of whom were in their teenage years at the same time. “My mom and dad both had at least two jobs for most of their lives,” he said. “They never had any type of financial education. We were lucky that my mom had insurance on my dad before he passed to take care of the funeral, because they didn't really have much of savings. I wouldn't say we were in poverty, but we had to stretch our money as much as anyone could imagine. Trying to feed four teenage boys is very expensive, but my parents knew that we were the priority and they had to take care of it.”
That lack of financial education left King ill-prepared for college life. “I took a home economics class in high school, and they showed you how to write checks, but they didn't show you how you manage your money or the importance of credit,” said King. “In my first year of college I got approved for a Bon Marche card (a long since defunct department store) and charged that thing up. Then my credit went to hell because I wasn't making the payments. It ended up getting charged off.”
King added that was a painful but important lesson – one that’s helped guide his entire career.
“Look at the number of people that come out of high school, even college, that don't know how to manage their money because they don't teach it in high school,” said King. “They don't necessarily teach it in college, either. They teach you things like corporate finance and credits and debits, but they don't really teach you about your own personal finances.” He added that even when a college graduate reaches a six-figure income, they can still find themselves upside down because of a lack of financial education.
“When I was with Payveris, I started thinking about how I was able to turn my credit around and understand savings and interest and investments early in my career,” explained King. “I had to ask myself, is my purpose just to make money, or am I actually going to do something that's going to improve humanity.”
King said that as a result, Payveris created a strategy around how the company could help simplify people's financial lives and improve their financial health. While these efforts were important, because Payveris was a payments company, the initiative could only address part of a consumer’s financial picture.
“We could not drive a real impact unless we could affect the full digital experience across not just bill pay, but also spending, savings and investments, etc.,” noted King. “When I got the opportunity to join Tyfone, I realized it was the opportunity to take a look at the full spectrum of financial services and see how we can deploy tools and technology to actually simplify consumers’ financial lives and help them achieve financial success.”