MWAA celebrates 10 years, Chicago-style
#dcf_As befitting its 10-year anniversary, the Midwest Acquirers Association Conference pulled out all the stops for the 2012 show. Held July 17 to 19, 2012, at the historic Chicago Hilton in downtown Chicago, the MWAA hosted a record 655 attendees and featured 106 vendors.
"We had more vendors than we ever had, including a number of new vendors, many new faces and some new companies," MWAA President Donna Ayers said. "We had more room for vendors than we ever had. The rooms were big enough to open up and offer more booth space, and the vendors had room to spread out."
"I don't think I made it to visit every vendor," said Dee Karawadra, President of Impact PaySystem LLC. "There just wasn't time. They really did go all out."
In keeping with the "Back to Our Future" theme, the show kicked off with a Shark Tank competition where companies competed for cash prizes (and potential investors). The top four Shark Tank finalists, selected by the judges prior to the show, described their products before judges and convention attendees. "It was a chance to see new things people are coming up with in the industry," Ayers said.
Sacramento, Calif.-based customer relationship management (CRM) software firm POS Portal Inc. won first place and $1,000 for its P2 CRM software. The same software package won the Electronic Transactions Association Technology Innovation Award earlier this year.
POS Portal Marketing Manager Josh Johnstone said the P2 CRM solution succeeded at both events because it is designed for salespeople. "We think this is a vindication of our P2 system," he added. "We looked at the Shark Tank and saw an opportunity there. Our product is for ISOs, and we think it resonates with them."
Gateway operator PayLeap took second place and $500 for its demonstration of LeapLock, its on-demand secure payment form technology. Third place and $300 went to online payment processor USA ePay for its secure POS solution PaySaber. Reporting and sales software company MyClearReports.com took fourth place, winning $200.
Industry education was a focus of the conference. Executives from major payment companies, as well as nationally known consultants, offered insight, advice and education on challenges and changes facing the industry. Topics included the transition to the Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) security standard and the effects of mobile payments and regulation on the industry.
EMV and the technology that underscores it were examined by a six-member panel moderated by Mark Dunn, founder of merchant services consulting firm Field Guide Enterprises LLC.
The education programs closed with MWAA Lifetime Achievement winners offering expert advice and industry forecasts. The panel members were: Robert O. Carr, founder and Chief Executive Officer at Heartland Payment Systems Inc.; payments industry consultant Linda Perry; Cynergy Data LLC CEO Kim Fitzsimmons; Electronic Merchant Services President and CEO Dan Neistadt; and Integrity Payment Systems President and CEO Mike Ponder.
Other panels tackled opportunities and hurdles facing the industry. Federal officials discussed the regulatory landscape, while Isis spokesman Tony Abruzzio and Consultant Todd Ablowitz of the Double Diamond Group LLC spoke, respectively, about new players in the space and the impact of industry changes on aggregators.
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