Deborah Liu Facebook

Deborah Liu, Facebook

Deborah Liu’s career in the payments industry has included positions at some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known companies, including eBay and PayPal, before landing her current position as head of payments at Facebook. However, for a California-based tech company, Facebook is gaining a lot of clout from abroad. Liu spent the previous five years at Facebook managing billing and customer payment processes, as well as Marketplace, the social network’s platform for linking customers and small businesses. The most exciting thing happening today, according to her, is the Asian payments movement, which has echoes in Facebook Messenger’s transformation into a commerce platform. “These payment markets… jumped right into mobile payments. People have been given new businesses and resources as a result of this breakthrough,” said Liu, who was named one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018.

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In several markets where there isn’t a well-developed banking infrastructure, customers have begun to use mobile networks as bank substitutes. They’d submit airtime minutes as a kind of digital currency, and mobile peer-to-peer networks grew out of that. Payments and communication processes are therefore heavily entangled with a global audience. Payments are critical to expanding opportunities, particularly in developing economies, according to Liu. “The freedom to pay opens up links between individuals and companies, allowing for large-scale, trust-based transactions,” she said. “Access to savings and credit is critical for emerging markets….” Economic empowerment is important for happiness and financial security.” Liu credits Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, with having a huge impact on her career even before she joined the company. “I was debating whether or not to join Facebook in 2009,” she recalled. “I had been working part-time at PayPal and then eBay for seven years, with incredibly flexible hours, and I had recently returned to work after the birth of my second child.” Sheryl Sandberg spoke to me about how to think about my future as a female leader during my Facebook interview. Later, in her novel, ‘Lean In,’ she expanded on these ideas. She perfectly encapsulated my ambivalence about work and motherhood, and she advised me not to let it slow down my career.”

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Even though Liu has been a powerful leader, she has faced endemic gender inequality while working in the payments industry. “The most pernicious aspect of gender inequality is that it is implicit and undetectable,” she said. “It’s when you go to a conference with a male colleague and everyone in the room defaults to giving him all of their attention and asking him all of their questions.” “Call it out,” she says. Don’t let it exist in the shadows; bring it into the light. We lose the opportunity to build collective acknowledgment of what happened and the opportunity to fix it in real time when we let stereotyping go unchallenged, and we tacitly conclude that stereotyping is OK.”

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