The recent proliferation of new tradeshows vying for ISO and merchant level salesperson (MLS) attention is perhaps reflective of the times as new players enter the realm of payments with connectivity points nonexistent just a few years ago.
"I think it's a natural phenomenon based on the broadening of the payments infrastructure," said Linda Perry, a payments industry consultant and co-producer of the inaugural International Acquiring Forum event held in London in 2013. "The value chain continues to widen in payments. If you remember years ago when prepaid sort of started, all of a sudden there was a prepaid show. Now mobile is another one of those developments, and there are mobile shows."
Formerly the GSM World Congress, the rebranded GSMA Mobile World Congress, held Feb. 25 to 28 in Barcelona, Spain, attracted worldwide attention with 72,000 attendees from 200 nations and 1,700 mobile exhibitors. Concurrently, the Mobile Payments Leadership Summit held Feb. 26 to 27 in Florida created a forum for solutions providers to exchange success strategies in mobile payments. Also in Florida, the three-year-old Mobile Payments Conference brought together leading mobile wallet and mobile payment experts in January 2014.
In terms of going international, two things are happening simultaneously. "Our ISOs want to grow, so they're growing across borders – first to Canada, then to Europe and now to other parts of the world," Perry noted. Likewise, technology providers in other global regions are interested in the U.S. market. "So they're coming inbound to our big market, and we're going outbound to their smaller markets," she said, adding that she plans to co-produce a second-generation international event.
Another tradeshow crossing borders is the CNP Expo. Now in its third year, it has an event planned for May in Florida focused on card-not-present education for global e-commerce, mobile and telephone payment entities. In addition, the Cartes Network will host its third annual Cartes America 2014 Exposition and Conference in May in Las Vegas. It will showcase secure payment, identification, and mobile technology developments in the payments and financial services spheres.
Regardless of which tradeshows an ISO or MLS chooses to attend, setting clear objectives beforehand is imperative. If after mapping out business objectives an ISO or MLS is still having difficulty narrowing the field of options, it may be wise to seek peer counsel.
Mark Dunn, President of Field Guide Enterprises LLC, said, "It always helps to get on The Green Sheet Forum and ask people, 'Hey, have you ever attended this show? What do you think about it?' The big talk last year was Money2020. The people who attended were really impressed and thought it was a great show."
The third annual Money2020 will be held Nov. 2 to 6 in Las Vegas. Organizers describe it as a "global event covering innovations in money based on the evolution of commerce at the intersection of payments, financial services, retail, mobile, marketing services and data technology." Approximately 5,000 individuals participated last year; exhibitors ranged from startups to established businesses.
"I think it starts with who you are and what you're trying to accomplish," Perry said. "If an ISO is looking at loyalty and thinking they need to integrate that as a critical piece in their world, then maybe they ought to go to the loyalty show, because that's where you might get more interaction, education and information about how loyalty really works."
Now entering its seventh year, the Loyalty Expo presented by Loyalty 360 – The Loyalty Marketer's Association from March 17 to 19 in Florida will present more than 20 interactive sessions slated in tandem with product and technology showcase sessions.
"I firmly believe that attending one or two shows well is better than attending many shows in mediocre fashion," Dunn said. "Don't spread yourself too thin. Invest in the shows that you're going to attend, and go after them for your objectives." One reason for this is that speakers and topics tend to make the rounds to various shows. "Very often you can get what you need from two shows rather than try to go to three or four," Dunn noted.
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