The way ACI Worldwide's Amala Duggirala sees it, 2016 will be the year of real-time retail payment systems.

As ACI Worldwide's executive vice president of application development, addressing this challenge falls squarely on her shoulders.

Already 38 countries have implemented or are beginning to get the ball rolling on accelerated RT-RPS exploration and adoption. As for what is driving the push for these systems, Duggirala contends that two factors are at play.

"Motivating this change are two phenomena: Accelerating consumer growth in online and mobile (card-not-present) payments, with expectations of near-real-time delivery and funds settlement; and the necessary proof points to banks and regulators that RT-RPSs can be built economically to scale," Duggirala said.

While the systems have gained worldwide attention, the Federal Reserve has estimated that the cost per transaction will drop to 27 cents from its current 47 cents if a U.S. RT-RPS system is built.

At ACI, Duggirala leads a team of hundreds of payment professionals, working to develop end-to-end technology between consumers and retailers.

Its offering has two key features: ACI's Immediate Payments framework and ACI's UP Retail service that features an e-commerce payment gateway and retail switches. "We are helping customers and partners to address changing market needs and accelerate growth," she said.

Duggirala, a first-time Most Influential Women in Payments honoree, is no stranger to change. Earlier in her career, she served as the chief architect of the team at Centurylink (then known as Qwest) that developed the first Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Telecommunications system. Duggirala herself was responsible for 21CN transformation at British Telecom, helping the company replace 1,500 PSTN switches with the VoIP network to the tune of a 70% cost reduction.

And Duggirala brings home her willingness to adapt to change. She credits her daughter Divya's national Mock Trial championship win as her greatest accomplishment outside her job. While Duggirala had long pushed her daughter to pursue a career in medicine, she's listened to Divya's passion.

"Nothing gets her heart beating faster than standing in front of a jury, waxing assertive while laying out her client's innocence, or fighting a grave injustice through clever rhetoric," Duggirala said. "I now realize that while some find joy in the medical field, Divya finds it in representing and believing in people who wish to fight back against injustice … Accepting that she can dream better for herself is a moment of great accomplishment."

This article is part of PaymentsSource's 25 Most Influential Women in Payments feature. Follow these links to see a full list of all honorees or a slideshow of the featured executives.

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