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Friday, April 20, 2018

ETA's Transact 18: not the same-old, same-old

T here was a new look and feel to the Electronic Transactions Association's signature conference, Transact 18, held April 17 to 19, 2018, at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center. The expo attracted card brands, merchant service providers and technology companies. "If you're here, you have a product, or you are the sales channel," said Jason Oxman, chief executive officer at the ETA. In the opening keynote presentation, Oxman said payments' current age of innovation is powered by ETA companies that are shaping how we interact with money.

"As our industry changes, so too must our industry's annual event, Transact," Oxman stated. "We've taken a fresh look at our conference, with an eye on building its legacy of advancing payments technology. Take a look around and see for yourself: coded into the DNA of Transact is a focus on maximizing your ROI as the industry moves forward. The ideas that will define the future of payments will take center stage this week."

New, interactive zones

The ETA also offered attendees and more than 200 exhibitors a mix of 10 venues and events created specifically to provide networking opportunities, many of which were centrally located in the exhibit hall, which had an open floor plan. These included the executive lounge, ETA membership lounge, ETA CPP & YPP networking luncheon, exhibit hall opening reception, Visa President's Dinner and Star Award gala, Young payments professionals reception, Transact first-time attendee/new member reception, payment facilitator reception, Wnet networking reception, and an all-attendee party.

In addition, designated interactive zones were devised to highlight emerging industry talent and technologies. Following are some examples:

Keynotes, educational tracks

The show's future-forward theme was reflected in an eclectic mix of keynote presentations, break-out sessions and educational tracks, beginning with a keynote conversation between Poynt CEO Osama Bedier and talech CEO Irv Henderson, who have entered into a strategic partnership to embed talech software in Poynt devices. Additional leaders from Mastercard, Elavon, Verifone, First American Payments and Zelle shared perspectives on changing trends in acquiring, technology and peer-to-peer payments.

The ETA's inaugural Forty Under 40 program recognized a diversity of next-gen leaders found to be game changers at the intersection of payments and technology. Members were selected not only on their impact on the industry, but also on their professional character. "ETA's first Forty Under 40 class are growing the industry at an unprecedented pace," Oxman stated. "Each one possesses a unique skillset, allowing them to identify and shape key segments of the payments ecosystem. The caliber and impact of their work is exception, demonstrating their commitment to the industry."

Reflecting upon the Forty under 40 honorees, Ryan Gilbert, founder, operator and investor at Propel Venture Partners, and member of the ETA Venture Capital Committee, said he invests in teams that are rethinking and rebuilding financial services. "Many are building on top of a solid infrastructure that the U.S. payments market is all about," he said. "They're going forward versus backward and tend to be more data-centric than old school."

Education, naturally, was a primary focus throughout the show. Six educational tracks provided in-depth analysis of digital wallets, integrated payments, government and regulatory landscapes, mobile and digital payment schemes, payment facilitators and risk, fraud and security technologies. "The payfac sessions were full and there is so much excitement and activity in this sector," said Caroline Hometh, Managing Director at RPY Innovations. "It's an entirely different world than it was two years ago."

2018 Star Award winners

Always highly anticipated, the ETA 2018 Star Awards winners were revealed during the annual President's Dinner. The program honors individuals and companies that have made a significant difference in the payments industry through innovation, business practices or contributions to the association: This year's winners were:

Coming soon

If you couldn't make it to this dynamic show, the Midwest Acquirers Association is ramping up for its 2018 conference. The annual event will take place July 25 and 28 at the Chicago Marriot Downtown Magnificent Mile. It will offer a rich mix of educational and networking opportunities. The keynote speaker will be former U.S. most-wanted cybercriminal Brett Johnson. Known by the alias Gollumfun and dubbed the Original Internet Godfather by the U.S. Secret Service, he was apprehended for cybercrime and laundering $4 million more than a decade ago, did time in prison and subsequently turned his life around. He now works with organizations to stop the spread of criminal activities in cyberspace. He will speak on cyber crime past and present. For details on MWAA 2018, visit, .

The ETA also holds periodic payments technology and leadership events throughout the year. For details on those, visit .

Walmart pilots mobile checkout in garden centers
Thursday, April 19, 2018

T o reduce checkout lines as spring gardening season gets underway, Walmart Inc. is pilot launching a program called Check Out With Me in Lawn & Garden Centers at over 350 stores nationwide. According to Walmart, sales associates at select stores equipped with cellular devices and Bluetooth printers can scan customer items, accept card payments and provide printed or electronic receipts on the spot, allowing customers to pay and go.

"Walmart's new program could fundamentally shift the paradigm back to a more personalized customer experience," said Charles Dimov, Vice President of Marketing at OrderDynamics. "This is particularly interesting when there is such buzz about robots taking our jobs, and personalized AI automation being the next big wave."

As a megaretailer, with the new service Walmart is able to elevate staff empowerment. "By providing employees with these tools to provide on-the-spot checkout, Walmart is creating a smarter and more helpful associate," said Adam Silverman, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Theatro.

"Additionally, this added in-aisle touchpoint offers new opportunities for Walmart including more personal customer interaction and upselling opportunities," Silverman added. "Any technology that makes the shopping experience more convenient for customers is a step forward for brick and mortar retailers, and creating an informed and more mobile associate is one of the best ways to do this."

Customer-driven approach

Dimov noted that Walmart's back-to-basics approach makes the store experience easier for customers and allows shoppers to engage with people. "Many shoppers want just that – to interact with another human when shopping," he said.

GK Software USA CEO Michael Jaszczyk agreed, adding that, "Point of sale architecture and business logic are being redefined as to make the POS a transaction platform that provides services beyond traditional core functionalities. The new era of point of sale will make it easy for any retailer to manage transactions however their customers want – with an emphasis on mobility – to make the checkout and payment process as seamless and painless as possible."

Jaszczyk also believes that Walmart's new service makes the case for retailers to deliver on mobile personal POS technology as a convenience to customers, which in return will drive greater store loyalty for retailers who deploy it in the future.

Sysnet survey finds small merchant PCI compliance lagging
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A recent merchant acquirer survey by Sysnet Global Solutions revealed that overall small merchants are not effectively engaging in PCI compliance programs. Among those surveyed, higher merchant PCI compliance rates remain a top priority, with most targeting 70 percent as the minimum compliance rate, and more than 15 percent aiming for 90 percent or higher PCI compliance rates within their merchant portfolios.

"We conducted this survey to put some structure on the many conversations we have had with acquiring organizations who feel they're fighting a losing battle when it comes to getting smaller businesses secure and compliant," said Gabriel Moynagh, CEO at Sysnet.

To overcome the challenges identified within the small merchant category, which include lack of knowledge, urgency and time to dedicate to PCI compliance, acquirers surveyed plan to deploy strategies to lift compliance rates in the future. Seventy-six percent plan to increase merchant communications, while 72 percent were equally dedicated to merchant education, and increased participation in managed security and compliance programs.

Non-compliance fees not enough

A number of acquirers queried said that non-compliance fees, originally implemented to encourage participation in PCI programs, have been ineffective. "PCI non-compliance fees seem like a good idea to prompt smaller businesses to take action, but the real problem is that they just don't have the knowledge, time or resources to get and maintain compliance," Moynagh stated.

In fact, 56 percent of the acquirers surveyed do not believe non-compliance fees drive compliance, and most agreed that the industry needs to wean itself off non-compliance revenue, which most cited as a significant contributory factor in merchant attrition.

Forty-four percent of those surveyed felt that non-compliance fees damaged their brand as an acquirer, and nearly all agreed they must do more to provide small merchant offerings to assist merchants in securing data and improve PCI compliance rates.

"It is likely that PCI compliance will continue to evolve over the next five years, and it's important for us to continue to develop and grow our SME offering by adding new value to our payment solutions," said Wally Mlynarski, Chief Product Officer at Elavon Inc., whose firm partnered with Sysnet to provide managed PCI compliance and cybersecurity tools to merchants that are easy to implement.

"We've always looked for ways to improve the self-assessment process for smaller merchants, and have concluded that what those businesses really need is help," said Moynagh. "Our managed compliance and security solution, Proactive Data Security (PDS), not only helps merchants complete the compliance process, it also identifies and installs the security tools necessary to protect the business."

To view the full report and survey results, visit .

Wnet in the spotlight at ETA Transact
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

T ransact, the premier payments technology event kicks off today in Las Vegas. An estimated 4,000 payments industry professionals are expected to attend the three-day Electronic Transactions Association-hosted conference being held April 17 to 19, 2018, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. In the spotlight, the Women's Network in Electronic Transactions (Wnet) will present sessions on the future of commerce and leadership.

On the keynote stage, Wnet will host a panel discussion on the future of commerce, delving into how to adapt to innovation and change. Featured panelists include Ant Financial/Alipay Head of Global Key Accounts Carol Grunberg, Chase Commerce Solutions U.S. President Kim Fitzsimmons, Ingenico Executive Vice President North America Jennifer Miles, Silicon Valley Bank Head of Payments and Strategy Solutions Reetika Greewal, and TD Bank Head of US Bankcard and Merchant Solutions Julie Pukas.

In the ETA Membership Lounge, Wnet plans to host a networking session. Men and women are welcome to attend this session, where they will meet other payment professionals who are involved in shaping the future of the industry, learn about the nonprofit organization's leadership programs and opportunities, and find out what's next on the agenda for payments industry leaders.

Honoring diversity champions

Also on the ETA Transact keynote stage, Wnet will present the inaugural Wnet Diversity Champion Awards, which are designed to recognize leadership in the areas of inclusion, respect and diversity in the payments industry.

"Our industry is changing rapidly, and our programs at Transact reflect that achieving diversity is both an evolutionary process, and vital to our industry," said Lisl Dutterer, Executive Director at Wnet. "Wnet is pleased to present, for the first time at ETA Transact, the Wnet Corporate Diversity Champion Award. Established by Wnet leaders, the award recognizes companies that are making diversity a priority by cultivating environments where the power of diversity is embedded throughout their corporate culture."

To learn more about Wnet, visit . For more details about ETA Transact and conference schedule, visit .

Experience-driven ecommerce strategies work
Monday, April 16, 2018

G lobal software company Episerver, which offers web content management, digital commerce and digital marketing through its Cloud-based software platform, released Reimagining Commerce: Global Findings, an analysis of consumers' current online shopping habits worldwide. According to statistics portal Statista, global e-commerce sales are expected to eclipse $2.8 trillion in 2018; Episerver's research found that this growth will depend on a new definition of commerce.

"Commerce" no longer means making a purchase, but rather encompasses the entire journey from research to final sale," report authors wrote. "This modern definition of commerce includes activities like inspiration seeking, problem solving, product discovery, product research, product comparison and more. Shopping today is just as much about the experience as it is about the purchase – maybe even more so. Businesses have opportunities to bend these experiences in their favor, but only if they can look beyond transactions. Paying too much attention to conversions blinds brands from other powerful engagement opportunities that exist throughout the entire online customer journey."

Key findings revealed

Among the key findings discussed in the report are that brands are at a turning point in their relationships with shoppers. "Brands willing to invest in all aspects of the online shopping experience set themselves up for long-term success, while those that focus too heavily on transactions are not accounting for shoppers' diverse expectations and needs when shopping online," Episerver noted.

In addition to confirming that online shopping is on the rise worldwide, the report reveals insights on consumer behavior:

Researchers warned that while consumers will continue to shop online, growth could plateau if consumers have negative or lackluster online shopping experiences. In its survey of 4,000 global consumers, Episerver also found the following top three culprits for abandoning purchases online:

Respondents indicated what they want most when shopping online, as follows:

Need to get it right

Of significance is that 95 percent of respondents said they have passed on making purchases when they have found content to be insufficient, vague or flat-out wrong.

This puts companies under pressure to get it right when it comes to providing consumers optimal experiences online. "What exactly does 'right' mean?" report authors wrote. "According to our findings, it comes down to crafting experiences that shoppers love, find valuable and come back for."

To download the complimentary report, visit .

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