Annmarie "Mimi" D. Hart, president and CEO of MagTek Inc., must have had a crystal ball at work in predicting for years that consumers would eventually demand a "Dick Tracy style" wristwatch computer for tasks such as payments.
The sudden surge of smartwatches such as the Samsung Gear and the rumored Apple iWatch has drawn the attention of the payments industry, with some key players pushing to be the first to enable payments from a watch or wristband.
"In the comic strip, Dick Tracy kept up to speed with his whole team using his wrist watch, which was just a smaller version of the then popular 'walkie-talkie,'" Hart says. "We will see continued miniaturization of hardware and maximization of computational capacity. This is just the natural progression of technology."
Hart, who was also featured in the 2013 Most Influential Women in Payments, wears her Martian brand smartwatch proudly, knowing "in the next few years we will see many more wearable computing devices."
In the meantime, her Seal Beach, Calif.-based MagTek team is developing new ways to secure identity and privacy in payments.
MagTek focuses on end-point authorization, Hart says. Such authentication affects the payment instrument, terminal, host, account data, payer, payee and any restrictions, Hart adds.
"If you can authenticate each of those elements and ascertain their genuineness, you can be assured of a secure transaction," Hart says.
The Target data breach taught the industry that an entire arsenal of weapons is needed to fight fraud, Hart adds.
"EMV would not have prevented the breach, but a combination of authentication, tokenization and encryption technologies can protect consumers and deprive the fraudsters of the money they try to steal," Hart says.
As the industry continues to innovate, particularly with "all things mobile," many creative technologies will emerge, Hart predicts. Women can play key roles in this change, but currently there are not enough women in executive roles, she says.
Women just entering the payments industry should seek a sales position. It's the best way to learn about the industry from the bottom up, Hart says.
"Sales is a remarkable opportunity in any industry, but particularly in payments," she says. "You dont need a lot of experience, but you do need to 'sell' someone to take a chance on you. Sales also makes you very resilient, which is a trait that serves us well throughout life."
See the full list of honorees for this year's Most Influential Women in Payments.