As the Director of Risk Management & Compliance for Payment Data Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:PYDS), a provider of all forms of secure payment processing, Gonzales oversees fraud, risk, and compliance in the processing of over $2 billion a year in payments. Payment Data has solutions for merchants, billers, banks, service bureaus, and card issuers. The company offers specifically tailored solutions for card issuance, payment acceptance, and bill payments.
FiCentive, Inc., a division of Payment Data Systems, provides pre-paid cards to use as incentives or payment options by corporations, financial institutions, health care agencies, groups, and organizations. He manages overall risk for the company, including prepaid cards, bill pay, payment processing services, fraud investigations, and regulatory compliance.
“Consumer banking is no longer done completely at brick and mortar banks,” said Gonzales. “You can enroll online and then load the card by using ACH (Automatic Clearing House), depositing cash or having direct deposits to the card.”
FiCentive, provides pre-paid cards for corporations to deliver financial incentives to customers, vendors, or employees in the United States and offers Payroll Cards to distribute salary, commissions or incentives to company employees. Finally, it provides web-based services for web developers, bill payment system, fund disbursements, and risk and management tools. In December, the firm will be ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ Market in Times Square, New York City.
To keep those cards safe, Gonzales monitors internal threats, such as fraud and controls in the system, and external threats, such as identity theft, money laundering, and cyber theft. He also is in charge of regulatory compliance under the Bank Secrecy Act, Anti-Money Laundering, Office of Foreign Asset Controls, and the Customer Identification Program, to name a few.
“It can be stressful,” Gonzales said. “There are always changes in the regulations, and you have to find the right balance between complying with the rules and providing good customer service.”
Before joining Payment Data Systems. Gonzales was a Financial Crimes Analyst with USAA in San Antonio. His job included analyzing trends, patterns and external factors involving money laundering; investigating terrorism financing, and detecting customer identification risk. He also implemented strategies to mitigate fraud and money laundering.
Gonzales started his career as a Personal Banker with Bank of America in San Antonio. As a senior business banker, Gonzales received several awards and accolades including the Award of Excellence, Rookie of the Year, and UCount Employee Engagement Champion.
While at USAA, Gonzales decided to pursue an online master’s degree in Criminal Justice and chose Sam Houston State University due to its online program and outstanding reputation. Many of his classmates were top leaders in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and he still keeps in touch with them, offering and receiving professional input on financial cases. Gonzales said he adopted the policing model of supervision as his own management style.
“I engage in active leadership,” Gonzales said. “I believe in training and subject matter experts. We all can’t be good across the board, so everyone should have a strategic expertise. In the case of my team, we have experts in money laundering, identity theft, pre-paid credit cards and compliance.”
For criminal justice students pursuing non-traditional careers, Gonzales recommends sticking with your passion.
“It’s been a great ride, and I look forward to the next 10-15 years,” said Gonzales. “Stay focused and be organized and make sure you are open to other suggestions. In the future of criminal justice, we will always need the blue, but we will need other types of jobs to fight white collar crime. My advice is don’t let anyone else tell you what you can or cannot do with a criminal justice degree.”