Regardless of the technology in place, building personal relationships with consumers and gaining their trust are the key factors pushing the financial services industry forward, according to Ann Cairns, the head of international markets for MasterCard Inc.

"In order to ensure consumers, retailers and every other stakeholder has the foundational trust in new technologies and innovations, it's incumbent on each of us to help them fully understand why they should put their faith in these solutions," Cairns said.

Security stands "squarely at the center" of any product or strategy, regardless of how it is pitched to the end user, she said.

"We can start by changing the conversation," Cairns added. "It's not about the latest gadget or shiny object, instead it's about the impact this technology is having on consumers and businesses."

For the third straight year, Cairns has earned recognition from PaymentsSource as one of the Most Influential Women in Payments.

Cairns has been in her current position for four years, helping guide MasterCard's financial-inclusion mission with a focus on "building the relationships in each of our international markets to grow acceptance and empower the next 500 million consumers," she said.

Seeking to bring more of the 2.5 billion underserved consumers into the financial mainstream, Cairns has an intense focus on cultivating and developing an integrated product development and customer relationship team.

"We're ensuring that our teams are not working in silos," Cairns added.

Customer peace of mind is vital to Cairns, especially when considering how security will change more in the next five years than it has in the previous 50, she said.

"The safety and security of our cards, our solutions and our network are the core promise of MasterCard," Cairns said. "We're driving forward to technologies like biometrics, tokens and encryption to continue to make shopping safer and more convenient for consumers."

MasterCard has established partnerships with the Gates Foundation and the African Development Bank to develop and deliver payments products for those outside the financial mainstream.

Cairns believes MasterCard has the right approach to diversity at its company as well, supporting women as they develop their careers and achieve top executive positions.

"Women make up more than 40% of our workforce and women hold two of the top executive positions in the company," Cairns said. "But we're not stopping there. We're working to ensure that our staff is representative of our customers, our cardholders and our partners."

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