Former Instacart Head of Product for Payments Joins Forage as Chief Operating Officer

3/1/2022, 3:00 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

LOS ANGELES, March 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Forage, which provides the easiest path for grocers and other merchants to accept EBT payments online, announced today that Ofek Lavian has joined Forage as Chief Operating Officer.

At Forage, Lavian will oversee the day-to-day operations, leading and scaling teams including product, operations, and partnerships. Lavian’s experience building out teams and products from inception to scale will be key to Forage’s mission of democratizing access to government benefits. That, combined with his years of experience working in high-growth environments and marketplace businesses, makes him uniquely qualified to accelerate Forage’s ambitious growth trajectory.

Prior to joining Forage, Lavian led the Payments and Commerce product teams at Instacart where he built the company’s core payments infrastructure and launched multiple products that drove billions in incremental impact during Instacart's peak growth years. These include launching new payment methods such as EBT/SNAP (Food Stamps) and PayPal, Instacart Gift Cards, Prepaid Cards, Stored Value, and a Co-Branded Credit Card with Chase (launching later this year).

Before Instacart, Lavian was also a Product Manager for Payments at Uber where he powered Uber’s global payments platform, responsible for processing tens of billions of dollars in payments volume in 60+ countries. While there, he led the launches of key payments products including Tipping, which contributed to billions in additional earnings paid out to drivers globally, The Uber Visa Credit Card, Uber Gift Cards, and Pay with Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, and other alternative payment methods.

“Ofek is one of the most knowledgeable payments experts in Silicon Valley – what he accomplished in two years at Instacart transformed the entire payments side of their business,” said Justin Intal, CEO and Co-Founder of Forage. “We are beyond excited for him to join our executive team and accelerate our timeline to help grocers and merchants of all sizes accept EBT payments online. Ofek is joining us at a very critical period in Forage’s growth, and his expertise in the payments space from working at tech leaders like Instacart and Uber will help fast track our product development and partnership plans.”

One in eight Americans receive government assistance to buy groceries. While over 247,000 brick & mortar grocery stores can accept SNAP benefits via EBT in store, only about 100 grocers accept it online. Many SNAP recipients are homebound, lack transportation, or live in a food desert without easy access to grocery stores; many others want to avoid in-person shopping due to concerns about COVID but have no choice because they are not able to use their SNAP benefits online.

Forage is changing that, by helping grocers navigate the complex process of gaining USDA permission to accept EBT SNAP payments online. While it could previously take 12-18 months, working with Forage can help grocers start processing EBT payments in one third the time. Forage has an in-house team of payments and EBT experts and a software platform, plus existing relationships with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Flashfood, to accelerate the process.

“Forage is laying the foundation to solve a critical gap for the millions of Americans that rely on SNAP benefits to be able to buy groceries online,” said Ofek Lavian, Chief Operating Officer of Forage. “The opportunity here is enormous. Over the past two years at Instacart, I’ve witnessed firsthand the essential need for online grocery during the pandemic, especially for this underserved population that has struggled with food insecurity. Forage’s payments technology has the power to democratize access for basic needs such as groceries and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work at a company that will bring that change to life.”

About Forage
Forage provides the easiest path for grocers and other merchants to accept EBT (e.g. food stamps) payments online, giving merchants access to a $200B market, and enabling the 42M Americans receiving benefits to spend them online. With its in-house team of payments and EBT experts and software platform, Forage project manages the USDA application process and tech integration for merchants, so they can start processing EBT payments in one third of the time. Forage founders created the company to help the underserved break out of poverty and more easily access their benefits online. Currently platforms including Shopify, Flashfood and Local Express and grocers such as Farmstead and Martie are working with Forage to accept online EBT payments. For more information visit joinforage.com.

Media contact:
Michelle Faulkner
617-510-6998
michelle@big-swing.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/dd829040-a661-4eaa-8f60-9f5bc6a8711e


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Former Instacart Head of Product for Payments Joins Forage as Chief Operating Officer

From left to right: Justin Intal, Co-founder and CEO, Ofek Lavian, COO, Victor Fimbres, Co-founder and CTO
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