Monday, September 17, 2018
The Western States Acquirers Association held its 15th annual conference Sept. 12 to 13, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch. Themed "Driving to New Horizons," the event highlighted trends and emerging technologies in the ever-changing payments industry. WSAA representatives said this year's conference drew 936 attendees and more than 100 exhibitors, exceeding previous attendance records.
In opening comments, WSAA president Pat Ford called the acquiring channel the heart and soul of payments, playing a critical role in the industry's evolution, digital transformation and emerging technology ecosystem. Reaffirming WSAA's core principles of networking, education, collaboration and "mixing in fun," Ford said WSAA collaborates with other regional shows and at the national level through its close ties with the Electronic Transactions Association.
Amy Zirkle, the ETA's vice president of industry affairs, agreed with Ford that collaboration is essential to payments industry growth. Her presentation, titled "Defining a New Role," referenced the ETA's vantage point at the epicenter of "payfacs, ISVs, card brands, financial institutions, technology companies, acquirers, ISOs and VARs." Zirkle said the ETA wants to be a resource and serve the industry in unique ways, bringing new functionalities and value-added solutions to the collective payments value chain.
Panel discussions further explored emerging technologies and their impact on the traditional ISO community. Concurrent breakout sessions addressed new trends in integrated POS and cardless payments, as follows:
Salazar cited three critical requirements for data-driven integrated POS platforms: business management capabilities, customer insights and strategic approaches to business growth. "Merchants may be afraid of technology, but they are even more afraid of the competitor next door that may use it," he stated.
Rotating 20-minute sessions highlighted four top-trending initiatives, providing insights and updates on the following initiatives:
Brand visionary and keynote speaker Ken Schmidt was former director of communications strategy at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., where he played a key role in the motorcycle company's turnaround. He recalled Harley-Davidson had just filed bankruptcy when he joined the marketing department. "I immediately called my wife and advised her to start cutting corners," he said.
The first order of business was to compare what people were saying about Harley-Davidson with what we wanted them to say about us, then figure out what we needed to do to get them to say those things, he noted. This approach helped get the job done at Harley and other leading brands, he said. Schmidt summarized his philosophy as "never do what's expected; make yourself as noticeably different as possible and have a lot more fun than you're supposed to."
WSAA conference organizers thanked event sponsors, exhibitors, committee members for their significant contributions to making the event a success, as well as digital agency DYAD Ventures for helping to brand and differentiate the annual conference on social media. Photos from opening and closing receptions and other conference highlights can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram under hashtag #WSAA2018.
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