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Thursday, February 24, 2011

ETA to launch certification program

The Electronic Transactions Association intends to launch the payments industry's first professional certification program this year. The new Certified Payments Professional (CPP) designation will set a uniform standard for professional performance in the payments industry. To that end, the ETA has just added a credentialing section to its website to inform members about the certification program and its relevance to employers.

"The launch of the CPP program will be an important milestone for the payments industry and for ETA," ETA Chief Executive Officer Carla Balakgie said in a statement. "We tapped all available resources, from a wide range of industry experts to certification program specialists, in order to ensure that those who earn the CPP credential are truly qualified to receive the designation."

The primary market for certification will be sales professionals with a minimum of one- to three-years' industry sales experience, preferably with expertise in one other area, such as technology, operations, risk, compliance or security. The secondary market will consist of W-2 employees or 1099 independent contractors who enable electronic payments by merchants, the ETA said.

Preparation and feasibility

Rori Ferensic, who is Director of Education and Professional Development at the ETA and is spearheading the program, said the primary purpose of the certification program is to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that a practitioner needs to perform as a professional in the payments industry. Furthermore, credentialed payment professionals will demonstrate the level of commitment, expertise and credibility that is necessary to instill confidence in service providers.

"We are working with Castle Worldwide, and they are one of the leading certification licensure companies in the world," Ferensic said. "Their testing experts facilitated us through the steps necessary in order to develop a legally defensible and statistically sound program. But it also involves many different subject matter experts, those who have industry knowledge, to work with the testing experts to create this program."

After almost two years developing the program, the ETA has completed the necessary feasibility study in which 75 percent of respondents indicated a credentialing program would benefit the industry by heightening professional standards and enhancing industry reputation and credibility. The ETA also finished its job analysis segment, identifying six content areas that will be tested: sales, pricing and interchange, process/operations/workflow, products/solutions, risk, and regulation/compliance/security.

Eligibility and testing

Ferensic said the ETA is working to finalize both the written examination and the certification program, which will determine strategy, eligibility and recertification requirements. She expects the application process to be ready by midyear 2011. "Their applications will be reviewed for eligibility. Eligibility requirements will include work experience; industry employment; some education, but not necessarily ETA educational programs; and then, of course, taking and passing the examination," she said.

Ferensic said ETA University courses aren't an eligibility requirement, but the ETA "will be creating what I like to call an exam prep course similar to an SAT prep course. That prep course will encompass the same content areas that are going to be on the exam, along with study tips and test-taking tips."

According to the ETA, the 125-question multiple choice examination will be administered twice annually, during one-month testing windows, in a computer-based format at testing centers throughout the nation. Eligible candidates will be required to schedule a test at one of the testing centers, present photo identification and enter an access code to take the test, Ferensic said. The first examination period will be scheduled during the fourth quarter of 2011.

"We're going to have a lot of information at our conference," Ferensic said, referring to the ETA Annual Meeting & Expo slated for May 10 to 12, 2011, in San Diego, Calif. For more details about the CPP program and the exam content outline, visit www.electran.org/CPP. end of article

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