MasterCard has major opportunity to expand globally, but to do so, it must overcome myriad challenges from regulatory hurdles to security risk.

Ann Cairns, president of international markets for MasterCard, helps guide initiatives such as financial inclusion and other international initiatives. The rapid uptake of payments technology is challenging MasterCard to create an attractive experience that goes beyond payments.

"That's why mobile payments are generating such interest," said Cairns, who has been honored in PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments feature for the past four years. "And that's why digital platforms like MasterPass are gaining greater traction."

MasterCard's international expansion initiatives are geographically varied, including programs in China, Myanmar, Brazil and elsewhere.

In many cases, there's political hurdles. In China and Myanmar, for example, MasterCard is working with local governments to ease entry into markets where the card network and its rivals were largely barred for decades.

In all regions, risk management is a major responsibility. Calling safety and security a "core" promise, Cairns said biometrics and tokens will be a key part of encouraging safe transactions in new markets. MasterCard considers its tokenization initiative, which is designed to replace traditional account numbers with tokens to protect e-commerce payments, a catalyst for financial inclusion and quality of life projects in developing economies.

Cairns is also working to increase the percentage of women in management roles, recently participating in Poppy Harlow's Leading Women series in Davos.

"At the end of the day, what any employee – male or female – wants is an opportunity and an advocate. They want an environment where they can succeed," Cairns said. "Simply meeting a minimum threshold or a quota simply won’t cut it. They leave the question on the individual’s merits and values in being in that position."

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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