Linda Mantia is excited about contactless payments.

In her role as Royal Bank of Canada's executive vice president of cards and payments, she is in a position to use new technology to remove the hurdles that have long hindered the growth of mobile payments.

"For me, the most exciting part of [emerging technology] is the opportunity for mobile payments to grow in the U.S, where the market has stalled," says Mantia.

RBC is developing uses for Host Card Emulation (HCE), which allows contactless payments from a mobile phone, bypassing the secure element used for conventional Near Field Communication payments. HCE is drawing support from Visa and MasterCard, and is a key factor of how Google Wallet operates on most carriers.

HCE allows mobile payments to be less reliant on a specific type of mobile phone, and eliminates the need to ask carriers for permission to access the handset.

"It makes it much clearer that there will be a global standard for mobile payments," Mantia says, adding issuers will have comfort that they won't be "disintermediated by a telco."

HCE will also benefit consumers, particularly those who travel, she says. "We have a lot of customers who are travelers. To pay one way in Canada and another in the U.S. was hard."
There is room for more women in the broader technology industry, she says.

"I just got back from the Mobile World Congress, and about 90 percent of the technology people who were there were men," she says. More women need to study engineering and technology, the disciplines that will drive future innovations in bank technology, she says.

As Mantia's career has evolved, RBC has done a good job of encouraging and promoting women to senior positions, Mantia says.

"RBC has been a champion of gender diversity for a long time," she says. "Within or organization we have lot of women in our cards and payment businesses."

Mantia, who has been in the payments industry for 16 years and in her current role for about 18 months, has global responsibility for the strategic direction of approximately 20% of RBC’s Personal and Commercial Banking earnings, including personal and business cards; rewards and partnership programs; Merchant Strategies/Moneris (a joint venture between BMO and RBC) and consumer payments innovation. She also has responsibility for cards and payments in Canada, the US and the Caribbean.

Mantia has helped lead RBC through a number of recent rollouts.

The bank launched its mobile wallet in January and it was part of a contactless payments pilot in Toronto with McDonalds and Interac, Canada's national debit network. The bank also partnered with Facebook to launch a social person-to-person money transfer capability in North America.

Mantia also helps manage the RBC Secure Cloud, the technology that powers the bank's mobile capabilities.

"It’s designed to meet today's needs and future technology needs, provides security and privacy of our clients’ personal data, a robust user experience and issuers with a cost-effective and simpler solution than other available solutions," she says.

See the full list of honorees for this year's Most Influential Women in Payments.

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