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Compliance Titans: Jani Gode, Payoneer

Jani Gode’s knowledge of payments compliance reaches to parts of the globe that are about as far away from the small Minnesota farm where she grew up as you can get.

Gode leads the global compliance program as chief compliance officer at Payoneer, an online payments company founded in 2005 that enables businesses to send and receive cross-border payments. Not only must she be an expert on anti-money laundering (AML), sanctions, consumer protections, escheatment and third-party risk, but Gode must understand regulations and requirements for the more than 200 countries in which Payoneer operates. “Luckily, I have a great team to help me out,” she says.

Gode’s early experience included learning many facets of traditional banking, including credit risk analysis and vendor risk management. Her introduction to alternative payments started at BANKFIRST, now The Bancorp, when it launched subprime credit and prepaid card programs. From there, she moved to Meta Payment Systems, creating its AML program and becoming the AML subject matter expert for prepaid. “That’s probably the smartest career move I ever made because it was the decision to go into AML that laid the foundation for the rest of my career,” she says.

An Ever-Changing World

Gode later would spend a few years as a consultant with SightSpan Inc., a risk management and AML advisory firm, “which afforded me the opportunity to expand my knowledge outside of prepaid and into the vast world of global payments,” she says.

“The biggest compliance challenge Payoneer is facing right now is the inconsistent application of state money transmitter licensing requirements in the payments industry. This is leading to an uneven playing field and increasing AML risk by allowing non-regulated players to offer products and services that are weak in compliance controls.”

Lured by a strong compliance background, family-like corporate culture and entrepreneurial spirit, Gode joined Payoneer in 2014. Throughout her career, being involved with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, Association of Certified Financial Crimes Specialist and the NBPCA “really helped me expand my knowledge and network,” she says.

Gode has more than 15 years of experience managing risk and AML rules for prepaid, credit, money service businesses and traditional bank products—and the compliance field still keeps her on her toes.

“Had I stayed in the AML field for traditional banking, I would not be challenged or interested,” Gode says. “What keeps it interesting for me is the ever-changing world of payments. At Payoneer, we focus on cross-border B2B payments for online businesses, which requires understanding new businesses cropping up on the Internet, and embracing the challenge of building compliant financial products and services to best serve these companies.”

Gode credits her career to “some very good mentors and bosses who gave me guidance to grow professionally, the opportunity to learn new things and supported me even when I made mistakes,” she says. “I hope they are reading this, and I say ‘thank you.’”

When Gode isn’t working, she’s reading, golfing or hanging out with friends. Because she travels a lot, she says “keeping her friendships active” when home is important to her. She’s also a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan and is “pretty sure” this is their year. And, Paybefore was able to get her to share a secret not many of her colleagues know. She enjoys singing Karaoke, “even though it’s so embarrassing.”

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