Nicole Tackett, U.S. Bank

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Business payments are among the last major transaction types to cling to paper checks, an automation gap that's both an annoyance and an opportunity for Nicole Tackett.

"In B-to-B payments, I am frustrated with the slow adoption of digital payments. Around 50% of business transactions are conducted by check, which is astonishing, given the rapid evolution of the consumer payments industry," said Tackett, senior vice president and head of emerging markets and strategy for corporate payment systems at U.S. Bank, and one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018.

There are some signs of life for digital B-to-B transfers, and Tackett hopes to spread the word among businesses that there are myriad benefits to dumping paper. "It remains both my personal and professional goal to work with businesses to increase the adoption of electronic payments and to realize the many benefits," she said.

Tackett, who completed her MBA shortly after entering the workforce, sees the rapidly changing payments industry as a constant learning curve. As mobile commerce, real-time payments and nimble challengers create an almost constant state of disruption for banks, Tackett pays attention and learns.

"I view my role as a professional student," she said. "In our rapidly changing payments environment, it has been essential that I continue to educate myself about new innovations, regulations and other industry changes. Education broadens my perspective and challenges me to pursue the latest information available about my industry."

That includes exploring the different uses of blockchain technology. While blockchain is best known as the distributed ledger that powers bitcoin, banks have grown interested in using blockchain to support advances in international transfers, security and investment technology.

Blockchain can help banks make gains by embracing a fast-evolving technology, Tackett said.

"This technology is a perfect example of how innovations in the fintech space can influence the banking industry," she said. "I have seen various uses of this technology in consumer and B-to-B payments, and will continue to explore how to take advantage of this fintech innovation in a banking setting."

Tackett credits her mother as an example and an inspiration.

"My mother worked as an accountant in the '70s, which was extremely unusual at the time," she said. "She was the only woman in her office, and although she held the same job title as most of her colleagues, she was expected to do all the typing for them."

Her mother knew how to balance work and life, she said. "Too often, female executives are faced with the false dichotomy of being a wife and a mother, or having a career," Tackett said. "My mother showed me that choosing to have a career did not need to come at the cost of having the experience of motherhood or enjoying a happy marriage."

Tackett said she has been lucky, since while working in a male-dominated financial services industry, she has had supportive male bosses throughout her career. Diversity can address gender bias, Tackett said, adding that as a leader, she fosters a sense of inclusion while mentoring and coaching.

"This builds an adaptive learning environment to encourage growth that powers potential," she said. "Within such an environment, I advise colleagues to take risks and be authentic. In addition, it benefits leaders to recognize and reward collaboration across a diverse team. Ultimately, the company benefits from a well-rounded point of view."

READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018

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B-to-B payments Digital payments U.S. Bank Women in Payments