Linda Perry, a 37-year payments industry veteran, is still impressed by the fast pace of technology in her field.
Her fascination has led her to bring some of the most innovative ideas into the acquiring world. "I am just trying to keep up with this generation of innovators," she said, and she is doing a great job.
Six years ago, Perry co-founded her own consulting and conference management company, Linda S. Perry Consulting. That company has transformed the International Acquiring Forum into the Global Acquirer's Conference.
One of Perry's goals for the 2015 conference in London, which takes place this May, was to secure "James Bond" to talk about cybercrime, she said. Instead she's secured James Anderson, who Perry likens to James Bond he's the assistant director of the anti-corruption and financial crimes sub-directorate with Interpol.
While technology such as mobile wallets and Bitcoin are interesting, Perry said the challenge for the industry remains a human one: understanding consumers. There is sometimes a gap between the payments products developed for consumers and their actual needs, she said.
Perry, who has been previously honored as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments, spent 17 years with Visa, where she brought independent sales organizations to the table with the card network's top managers. She did a lot to change the perception of ISOs in the industry, which once thought of ISOs as dodgy con artists, she said.
Today, merchant acquirers and ISOs are challenged to stay relevant in the fast-changing space where payments startups are selling directly to merchants, cutting ISOs out of the sequence.
"You can't just sell and service and keep the residuals coming," Perry said. "Good partners help, reading the payments media helps, staying active in industry events helps, and networking helps."
Learning from peers around the world is also important, especially for U.S. acquirers that have been playing catch-up on things like EMV, regulation and dynamic currency conversion, said Perry.
Just as these businesses must adapt to keep their spot in payments, women will have to do the same.
"Women will have to change a bit to survive," Perry said. "Unfortunately there are stereotypes and we need to be smart enough to 'play the game.'"
Perry is a tall woman with a big voice, and she isn't afraid to jump into a conversation with men and women alike, a trait she said has helped her.
Perry does some mentoring, and although she gives women advice on how to dress, speak and stand, "you have to deliver the results for sure."
"One boss mentored me and told me to go out and learn everything I could about my job and all the other jobs I managed and those jobs of my peers," she said. "It was good advice as I did this throughout my career and no one could question my knowledge."
That said, Perry is tired of the prejudice and inequality. "We should be over this issue by now and we have seen many successful women in our industry over the years," she said.