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Profile: Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies

Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies:

We’re an independent charity that has created a new standard for the payments industry, retailers and charities to enable simple, data-free giving. Our digital charity box gives customers the chance to add a few pennies onto transactions when they pay by card. We don’t collect any personal data, the retailer chooses the charity to support, and it’s a choice every time for the consumer to donate.

It was challenging, and I was told it would never work! But we have attracted the talent willing to forgo commercial salaries to help grow our ‘micro-giving’ movement. An ever-present challenge – because payments systems are increasingly complex and diverse – is solving the technology issues that arise to ensure Pennies is simple to enable for retailers.

I started young! I worked in my local family businesses and learned the facts and basics – customers first, attract and look after your team, make more than you spend and give back to the community you are servicing. This has remained my mantra and modus operandi ever since. A few touchpoints in my career: 15 wonderful years at IBM working across the globe, running a European consortium of banks, and latterly leading the global business for ecommerce solutions for financial services sector. I next joined Barclays Bank where I was the first CEO for a small digital subsidiary joint venture with Accenture and Barclays, and latterly Marketing Director at Barclaycard. Following a chapter at Kensington mortgages group plc where I became CEO and led the successful sale to Investec plc, I moved on, and Pennies was born. After 4 years at Pennies I started to build out a trustee and NED portfolio. I am honoured to currently be on the board on Yorkshire Building Society and AVIVA Life Holdings as an independent Non-executive director. I have the wonderful benefit of a portfolio of fintech and insuretech related roles at a time when technology has the potential to truly transform customer journeys and servicing in business and in charities.

How can we get more women to become a FinTech leader? We need to inspire them! When people are inspired and supported, the world can be their oyster. We must ensure we have tools and resources to help people of all ages – starting in the teen years – to explore ideas and know where to go for help both technically, but also in starting up businesses. There are some super labs being created by many firms, really helping to nurture new and evolving ideas. Getting the benefit of coaching and support from those who have been there is also helpful – as we all make mistakes so it is all about learning to progress.

My piece of advice for women wishing to pursue a finance career:

Don’t try to be anyone else! Additionally – Never take no for an answer (in a positive way), listen to feedback, learn and find a different route… and there is nothing to substitute hard work!


Pennies, the digital charity box, is powering the retail, hospitality and leisure industries – directly enabled by payments technology – to give UK consumers the chance to donate ad hoc to charity.

Pennies, a charity itself, provides a frictionless and anonymous way for customers to add a few pennies to charity during a transaction – whether online, in-store or in-app. It does not collect any personal data, the merchant chooses the charity to support, and it is a choice every time for the consumer to donate.

Nearly 40 million people – over 6 years – have made a donation in this way – to the tune of almost £9M. This money has supported over 200 UK registered charities, impacting on causes and communities throughout the British Isles and beyond. Over 60 retailers are currently part of the ‘micro-giving’ movement, including Domino’s Pizza, Boots Opticians, Ask Italian, Evans Cycles, Topps Tiles, Hobbycraft – with the likes of Dixons Carphone rolling out. Pennies estimates that if every UK cardholder* donated just once a month at an average of 30p (roughly a penny a day) we could raise £175 million a year of new money for charity.


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