Ask U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis if he has any interest in the banking business outside of the U.S., and the answer is a quick no. There's plenty of growth to be had here at home, and the domestic system-for all of its exposed flaws-is better regulated and more familiar. But the same can't be said for the payments space, where the best new opportunities are found overseas.

Pamela Joseph, vice chairman of payment services for the $247 billion-asset company, spends much of her time leading U.S. Bank's charge into foreign markets. Over the past couple of years, she has re-branded her unit's merchant processing business and launched a European bank-Elavon Financial Services. Joseph has spearheaded the acquisitions of several payments players in Europe, and is eyeing the Pacific Rim. "Asia, possibly Australia," Joseph, 49, says. "In the merchant business, that's where we see the growth occurring."

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