Women In Payments celebrates females contributing to the future of finance

Sally McMullen 27 November 2017 NEWS

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Supporting gender diversity is not only the “right thing”, it gives your company a competitive edge, says Mastercard.

Some of Australia’s biggest fintech and financial players put the girl power in payments for the Women in Payments Symposium in Sydney last week.

On Wednesday, attendees heard from a bunch of ladies from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions who have been kicking ass and taking names in the payments world. The event was opened and closed by Women In Payments CEO Kristy Duncan and also included an inspiring talk by humanitarian Rabia Siddique.

Six fintechs also battled it out to win up to $25,000 in cash prizes for the Visa Everywhere Initiative. Women In Payments also recognised some of the leading ladies in the field, with the likes of Anna George from WEX snagging the award for Innovation and the Australian Payment Network’s Trish McGuinness bagging the award for Distinguished Payments Professional.

Following the symposium, we spoke with Mastercard’s Richard Wormald about the importance of supporting women in the payments industry in Australia. Although he’s definitely not a woman in payments, he did moderate a panel with Michele Bullock from the RBA, Emma Gray from ANZ, WEX’s Nicola Morris, and CEO of FinTech Australia Danielle Szetho at the event. We spoke with Richard about how Mastercard encourages gender diversity and the biggest learnings he took from the event.

As a male working in payments, why do you think it’s so important to have a symposium focused on women’s contributions to the field?

At Mastercard, we’re committed to empowering women and supporting the role that women play in our industry is hugely important. Celebrating and supporting the careers and contribution that women make to our business and our industry is a fundamental part of our culture at Mastercard. We recognise that diverse teams are more productive, creative and ultimately help us create a competitive advantage. Beyond Mastercard though, it’s important for the whole industry to get behind and celebrate the amazing women leading our industry today, as well as foster the next generation of talent. Women in Payments is a great example of an event that does just that.

You were moderating the executive panel with the likes of Michele Bullock from RBA and Danielle Szetho from FinTech Australia. What was the most important learning you took from that session?

There was a very interesting discussion about technology and what the changing requirements of the industry are. At the core of every innovation is the customer, and addressing their needs is, and should always be, the reason behind doing what we do. A key takeaway was that we now need to think laterally when approaching new technology and look beyond just the payments space to apply the insights that we have as an industry. This will help unlock ways to further improve the overall customer experience.

What are some of the other key learnings you hope attendees will take away from the symposium?

For me, the Women in Payments event is a chance to celebrate the achievements and leadership of women driving innovation in the payments industry locally. Each year we see such diverse talent represented and the breadth of impressive initiatives that nominees are working on continues to grow. I hope that those who attended this year’s event left feeling that they are an important part of a dynamic and inclusive industry that is committed to paving the way for future female leaders in payments.

With the New Payments Platform due to launch in Australia in the new year, how can we expect opportunities for women in payments to grow and change over the next few months or years?

The internet continues to reshape the payments industry. It continuously creates new opportunities for businesses and we have to make sure we’re to evolve our offering to keep up with new demands. The New Payments Platform is just one example of the many innovations we’re seeing happen in the payments space. The real opportunity for women in our industry comes from growing and progressing their skills so that they can capitalise on the change across industries that is being driven by the internet

The theme of this year’s symposium is the future of payments. What do you think is going to be the biggest change in how we pay in Australia in the next few years?

There are big changes coming to Australia with the digitisation of payments enabling safe, faster solutions, combining mobile, biometrics and existing tap and go technology. We’ve already seen the fast uptake of new technologies in the Australian market, with Australia being recognised as a leading market for the adoption of tap-and-go technology with more than four in five (82%) using it each week. This high level of adoption has seen a demand for greater speed, convenience and security. This is something that we’ve recognised, working to deliver innovations such as AR and wearable payment technology. As these gather pace, we expect to see the convenience and the payments process develop rapidly in the coming years.

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At Mastercard, what does the company do to support women working in payments?

Diversity is at the heart of everything we do at Mastercard and creating a culture of inclusion is not just the "right" thing to do, it’s a big part of what gives us our competitive edge. Our sponsorship of the Women in Payments Symposium, as well as other initiatives like the Mastercard Women’s Leadership Network and Project Inspire, demonstrate our ongoing commitment to recognising diversity as an underlying factor to succeeding in innovation and technology.

Further to these efforts, we are committed to creating a pipeline of women who want careers in the technology and finance sectors. Our Girls4Tech program, which ran workshops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this year, provides hands-on experience for schoolgirls to drive their excitement and interest in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Mastercard is opening a new tech hub and innovation centre in Sydney in 2018. How will this new space help Mastercard maintain its position as a leader in payments innovation in the future?

As we evolve from a payments company to an innovative technology and services provider, the new space will help us to create a deeper connection with partners and deliver more growth and innovative business solutions. The Global Tech Hub and Innovation Centre will be focused on designing the future of commerce. It will be where we use technology and data-driven insights to deliver solutions that transform how Australians interact with technology. It will have tried, tested and proven methodologies for our partners and Mastercard to co-create and fast-track the best ideas from concept through prototype, pilot and into commercialisation.

The goal is that everyone will collaborate in an open design environment to enable excellent service, rapid prototyping, and the ability to bring digital payment products to market quickly and efficiently. Sydney has one of the world’s best technology and product talent pools and our Sydney Tech Hub and Innovation Centre will play an important role in the business’ ongoing innovation both locally and globally.


As well as the symposium, Women in Payments supports ladies in the industry with a bunch of other events as well. It’s next networking suppers are in Melbourne on 23 November 2017 and Auckland on 27 November 2017. You can check out the Women In Payments website to stay on top of the latest events and networking opportunities.

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Pictures: Zak Kaczmarek

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