A record number of payment professionals attended Transact 15, the Electronic Transactions Association's 25th anniversary conference held March 31 to April 2, 2015, in San Francisco. The ETA reported that more than 200 exhibitors, 4,000 attendees, and numerous startup companies filled Moscone Center's 45,000 square foot exhibit hall.
When introducing keynote addresses by executives from Visa Inc., Ant Financial America, and First Data Corp., ETA Chief Executive Officer Jason Oxman said that, in 2007, Steve Jobs had used the same stage to unveil the iPhone, "the fastest selling gadget in the history of technology." He predicted new connected devices from smartphones to watches to wearables will co-exist with traditional payment card products, noting that checks, invented by ancient Phoenicians, are still widely circulated today.
Oxman also commented on emerging payment trends such as payments' expanding role in the Internet of Things (IoT) and continuous process improvement in encryption, tokenization and biometric technologies to create a richer electronic transaction experience. He stated that form factors are less important than the systems behind them and emphasized the need for secure, safe, reliable payment solutions that consumers and merchants can trust.
Ryan McInerney, President of Visa Inc, called this an "exciting time to be in payments," where digital technologies are replacing antiquated processes. He stated Visa's three-fold focus: to help merchants, acquirers, and the payments community; introduce technologies, products and resources that add value; and to become a more inclusive and collaborative organization. These objectives were further explored at Visa's booth where the company exhibited a connected car designed to facilitate drive-through consumer purchases.
Jingming Li is President and Chief Architect of Ant in America and former Chief Technology Officer of Alipay, Alibaba's online payments network. His keynote included a video that featured a cross-section of Chinese consumers who increasingly use mobile commerce technologies to purchase products around the globe.
Li predicted that this top-spending group, which currently generates approximately $164 billion in e-commerce revenue, will grow to 630 million consumers by 2030.
"This generation [of Chinese consumers] grew up on the Internet, and the Internet has no borders," he said.
Frank Bisignano, Chairman and CEO of First Data, said, "We're standing at the beginning of a new era," when he shared his vision of a grand collaboration in which networks, sales partners and technology companies work harmoniously in the "commerce enablement business." He stated that First Data participates in this "grandiose vision" by giving back to communities, building infrastructure and maintaining a culture of accountability.
The ETA hosted an EMV Boot Camp, educating attendees on EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) technology implementation and compliance, the October 2015 fraud liability shift, and case studies from other countries that have successfully migrated to chip card platforms.
ETA-University, a classroom-based program offered annually at Transact conferences, included introductory and advanced sessions throughout the conference on electronic processing, including sales and marketing, operations, payments technology, risk and fraud management, and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) fundamentals.
The ETA's Tech Launch, a series of panel discussions and presentations, highlighted payments industry disruptors and startups. Sessions addressed such topics as private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and partnerships. A Tech Launch startup competition awarded $25,000 to eThor, an omni-channel POS integration company.
Six vertically focused educational tracks explored a range of topics including big data, Operation Choke Point, global expansion, investing and private equity, retail technology, and payments aggregation.
In addition, a number of strategic partnership announcements and survey results were showcased at the conference. Intel Corp.'s Doug Davis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the IoT Group at Intel, and Ingenico Group CEO Philippe Lazare heralded the companies' joint initiative that will focus on creating secure payment acceptance across the IoT using a mobile, EMV- and NFC-enabled tablet.
The Economic Indicators Report, jointly authored by the ETA and The Strawhecker Group, forecasted continuing payments growth based on key economic indicators including consumer confidence, gross domestic product (GDP) and unemployment statistics. Findings showed that 70 percent of GDP is driven by consumer spending, which includes a growing number of electronic transactions.
Additionally, the annual ETA-Goldman Sachs Merchant Acquirer and ISO Survey revealed a growing acceptance of bitcoin, a growth curve in the small to midsize ISO category, and a positive outlook for electronic payments evidenced, in part, by the 60 percent of survey respondents who predicted continued, accelerated payments growth.
Global consultancy Strategy& collaborated with the ETA on a study that found 90 percent of surveyed consumers use mobile devices to shop, and most are actively seeking a "broader set of shopping tools" to enhance the m-commerce experience. Merchants also expressed a need for a range of value-added services, including improved use of real-time analytics. Complete survey results can be found at www.electran.org/wp-content/uploads/ETA_survey_vff.pdf.
Changing the ETA annual conference's name to Transact is seen by many industry pros as reflective of the increasingly social payments landscape. Many companies that participated in the ETA's selfie competition saw their photos posted on giant screens at the keynote addresses. The hashtag #TRANSACT15 was trending on Twitter throughout the conference.
Messages about security, connectivity and innovation also resonated throughout the conference. Visa's Carolina Puerto, Director of Digital Developed Markets, said that emerging technologies help to increase sales, decrease fraud and help retailers thrive in omnichannel environments.
Matt Getzelman, Director of PCI Practice at Coalfire, a Colorado-based audit and assessment company, noted an uptick in hacker activities in the United States, including two new, high-profile and yet-to-be-reported hacks that he could not disclose. "Fraudsters are beginning to realize that they have maybe two years left to steal data in the U.S.," he said. He added that after EMV is widely implemented, data will still be available to steal, but the process won't be as easy or lucrative. He emphasized the need to educate clients on how to protect cardholder data before it hits their environments.
End-to-end encryption, EMV chip cards and tokenization were widely discussed throughout the conference as essential components for securing payments in the increasingly mobile, interconnected world.
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