"Equifax" has become as much an omen as it is a company. Its security issues have shaken confidence in an entire industry.
"The Equifax breach was a complete failure on the part of the management team," said Madeline Aufseeser, CEO and co-founder of Tender Armor and one of PaymentsSource's 2018 Most Influential Women in Payments. "They put dollars before sense and could have avoided the whole debacle. Events like that and others give our industry a bad reputation and promote distrust among consumers."
While not a direct answer to the Equifax breach, big security events often cause a much broader wave of innovation that protects more than just the root cause of the original breach. Much the way the Target breach drew attention to chip cards, the Equifax breach has drawn attention to shoring up enterprise security, even if it means investing more.
In that way Aufseeser's background prepared her well for a career as a technology entrepreneur. In her previous role as a financial services industry analyst at Aite Group, Aufseeser was responsible for taking the temperature of an entire industry and knowing how an event in one area could spark opportunity in another.
"The turning point in my career was becoming an industry analyst. Being an analyst gave me a new perspective," Aufseeser said. "It forced me to look at things from a more objective/global viewpoint and exposed me to emerging companies that I would not have otherwise known about. It also provided the runway to forming my own company and understanding the pitfalls and success factors faced by a startup."
The path is not without challenges. There's still a substantial gender gap among fintech entrepreneurs and executives, making Aufseeser as much a pioneer as she is an innovator.
"I am co-founder of a fintech startup, which in some ways says it all. There are scant few women starting fintech companies," Aufseeser said. "Women founders and co-founders reportedly garner a [small amount] of VC funding capital, which puts us at a huge disadvantage pitching for investment monies."
Since its founding, Tender Armor has expanded through software development and collaboration with vendors and banks for white label and direct services. Its product sounds complicated, but is designed to be a vital protection for a market filled with skittish consumers and nervous merchants. Safety must be addressed before mobile commerce can truly gain ground against traditional methods such as plastic cards and cash.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company's technology layers on a bank's existing authentication system, replacing the security code on the back of payment cards with a three- or four-digit CVV+ code that is new each day.
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018