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Women in Payments: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Anna talks to us about her views on payments trends – and her thoughts on the issues facing women in the industry.

NM: Tell us about your role at Google.

AMM: I lead the Retail and Payments Activation team for Southeast Asia and Australia, based out of Google’s Japan office. My focus is on payments for digital goods (game items, e-books, movies, music, etc.) and I am immensely involved in a lot of cross-functional teamwork with the product, tax, treasury, legal, finance, engineering, compliance, marketing, PR/comms and business operation teams. But I mainly lead the go-to-market strategy and business development partnerships, with a focus on increasing payment coverage for users.

NM: Well, you certainly handle a lot in your role! Based on your experience in the payments industry, where do you see it headed in the next five years?

AMM: To answer that question, I think it’s important to look at where we are now. Currently, in Southeast Asia, cash and bank transfer are still the most preferred forms of payments, and mobile gaming is huge. However, we’ve seen e-wallet gaining market share with heavy cashback promotions, not only from pure e-wallet players, but from eCommerce players as well. Even ride hailing services like Grab and GoJek have jumped on the e-wallet bandwagon. Currently, it’s still a valuation game between e-wallets on which can bring more users onto their platform.

I believe in the next five years, only two or three e-wallet players will survive, and it will be the ones that are good at mitigating fraud and providing an excellent rewards system. We will see more forms of payment for users, forcing traditional payment players like banks to up their game or risk getting squeezed out. I also see the customer experience trend continuing to grow as Millennials – the ‘see now, buy now’ generation – account for 40 percent of future consumers. And, finally, in the next five years, we’ll likely find that anyone can be a merchant, and every device will be a payment acceptance device. I am already seeing this trend starting to grow in the emerging markets, as eCommerce players partner with mom-and-pop stores to expand their market coverage.

NM: What opportunities do you see for women in the payments industry in the next five years?

AMM: Similar to the tech industry, the payments industry is also heavily male dominated, but I have a strong belief that women have the opportunity to make an impact, reshape and become leaders in this industry. Women bring a fresh and different perspective to the payments world, considering women make 80 percent of all household financial decisions, have a better savings rate than their male counterparts, and will control 70 percent of the world’s discretionary income by 2020; including them in the design and delivery of financial services simply makes economic sense.

NM: How valuable is networking for women in the payments industry? What are your recommendations for getting started with networking?

AMM: Very valuable! I’m so lucky to have been selected as one of the Money20/20 Rise Up Asia Power Players for the 2019 Cohort. Now, I have a network filled with inspiring women who cheer each other on for our small and big wins, and it’s very energizing. Aside from that, networking is extremely helpful when you meet someone who has faced the same challenges as you and is able to overcome them. You can learn so much from those who’ve gone before you. It also opens doors to new opportunities, from work opportunities to partnerships and speaking opportunities.

In terms of recommendations to get started, I’ve always advised my own mentees to know what they want before they start something – you must have a clear goal when building a network. It requires persistence, attention, organization and good willpower to keep up a good network. It will help you gain opportunities and build relationships that will last a lifetime. I also recommend showing your value to others. Leverage social media (i.e. LinkedIn) and connect with other people who are already in the industry, then listen and ask questions – you will learn a lot!

NM: What has helped you get to where you are in the industry?

AMM: I’m blessed that I have a team that supports me in my career goals as well as my personal growth. They enable me to explore my passions by allowing me to work on something other than my primary project for up to 20 percent of my total work time. This gives me the space to experiment, improve and innovate. It encourages product development, fosters inter-team communication, and enhances skills. I also regularly visit the markets that I manage, and discuss with partners to understand the latest trends and insights. Having this regular conversation has helped me to strengthen the network that I have in the region and strengthen my knowledge about the markets and industry.

NM: Who is your role model and why?

AMM: My mom, because she’s simply the best! She’s persistent, she has a heart as big as an ocean, and she’s been my biggest cheerleader throughout my life. She is basically a little ray of positive sunshine, always there to make me realize things aren’t as bad as they may seem. She’s been there for me when I faced big challenges at work. Everything that I’ve learned about dedication to a goal, I have learnt from her.

NM: Sounds like you had a great role model growing up! So, what advice would you have for young women looking to get into the payments industry?

I would say, build your network, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and start to learn about industry context, trends and business drivers.


Find out more about ACI’s own cohort of women leaders and their industry recognition here.

Payments Expert

ACI Worldwide powers electronic payments for financial institutions, retailers and processors around the world with its broad and integrated suite of electronic payment software.