To Hart, one of the most interesting developments in the payments industry is the relatively recent prevalence of low-cost disruptors that use cell phones and tablets instead of traditional point-of-sale terminals to handle card and check payments.

As head of MagTek, a Seal Beach, Calif.-based firm that specializes in secure card reading and authentication technology, Hart finds herself on both sides of the battle. Her company supplies handheld mobile card readers to companies that want to sell them; it also must tackle the new rules set by the incumbents as they push to advance technology in conventional point of sale terminals.

"Perhaps more significant in the U.S. is the current pressure from the major card brands to implement an extremely expensive smart card roll out in the name of security, while at the same time promoting [Near Field Communication] payments that provide even less security," she says.

Overcoming the hype of smart cards, NFC, and point-to-point encryption are among the biggest challenges in her sector of the industry.

"Point-to point-encryption is doomed to fail by its very definition," Hart says. "If you don't encrypt from point A to point B, but you do encrypt from point B to point C and D and then don't encrypt from point D to point E, you'll have achieved P2PE compliance, but you won't have a secure system."

Before joining MagTek in 2003, Hart was president of Express Card Systems Inc., a Marblehead, Mass., technology provider. She also helped form the Secure Remote Payment Council, an industry group focused on enhancing on-line and mobile payment security.

Looking ahead five years, Hart predicts that the biggest change in how the payments business is conducted will be processing payments after smartphones become obsolete.

"I personally like the idea of a 'Dick Tracy' watch that does most all the computing, paying, and communicating I need," she says. "I'm not fond of typing or texting. I think it will become passé within the next few years, replaced by safer, faster, easier 'beam me up Scotty' technologies."

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