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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 12, 2008 • Issue 08:05:01

What a time it was: ETA 2008

The number of people who networked in planned and spontaneous meetings, visited the 183 exhibitor booths, and attended a range of educational and social events at The Electronic Transactions Association 2008 Annual Meeting & Expo is not yet tallied.

But, Thomas Goldsmith, the ETA's Director of Commu-nications and Public Relations, reported it looks like attendance at the premier industry event was up from a year ago. Held from April 14 to 18, 2008, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the multifaceted expo was packed with announcements of interest industrywide; individual company product and program rollouts and demonstrations; and speeches, panels and informational sessions galore.

Of the issues explored, education and security seemed to have particular resonance.

Hear ye, hear ye

On Tues., April 15, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council (SSC) released version 1.1 of the Payment Application (PA) Data Security Standard (DSS), which replaced Visa Inc.'s Payment Application Best Practices (PABP).

The PA DSS establishes criteria for secure applications in all payment card transactions and enables the council to manage a globally recognized list of validated payment applications. When implemented in a PCI DSS-compliant environment, PA DSS-validated applications minimize the potential for data security breaches.

On April 15, the ETA held its gala President's Dinner, a much-anticipated event at which ETA Star Awards winners were announced, as follows:

  • Distinguished payments professional:
    Joe Kaplan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Innovative Merchant Solutions and a former President of the ETA, was given the nod because he has "demonstrated significant leadership within the industry and is an acknowledged trendsetter, role model and positive contributor to its efficacy and image."

  • Business partner of the year:
    Total Merchant Services received accolades because it "demonstrated an overwhelming level of support" for the ETA in the past year.

  • Committee of the year:
    The ETA Technology Committee drew raves due to its great impact on the ETA as "evidenced by its tremendous effort, unparalleled team spirit and collective accomplishments" in the past year.

  • Committee volunteer of the year:
    Victoria Strayer of TSYS Acquiring Solutions was vetted because of "an outstanding dedication of time and effort" to her committee, which demonstratively contributed to its overall success in the past year.

  • Member of the year:
    Tom Wimsett, President and CEO of NPC got the award because he "embodies the true spirit of ETA," demonstrating leadership and giving of his time, effort and ideas to contribute to the organization's continued success.

  • Technology innovation:
    4Access Communications wowed the industry with Orion, its all-in-one solution for reading checks, as well as credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards.

Also, in addition to offering traditional ETA University (ETAU) classes on a range of essential topics for payments professionals, the ETA introduced ETAU online.

The new program consists of interactive, Web-based certificate courses, which are accessible 24/7. The first to be offered is sales channel development. Coming soon are introductory courses on electronic processing, operations, sales and marketing, and technology.

A jumpin' hall

Many companies wait until the ETA's annual meeting to officially celebrate their latest developments and achievements. Just a few of the many highlights include:

  • U.S. Bancorp subsidiary Elavon, formerly NOVA Infor-mation Systems, celebrated its new name, which Elavon CEO Stuart C. Harvey, Jr., said serves to unify all of the company's acquiring brands.

    To celebrate Elavon's ascendance as a global force, the company hosted a party at Mix Lounge, high atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, where howling winds may have forced the event inside but did nothing to dampen enthusiasm.

    Harvey predicted, however, tougher times ahead for smaller acquirers that do not compete worldwide.

  • VeriFone, a leading POS equipment developer and manufacturer, launched a new U.S. preferred reseller program "aimed at enhancing the ability of key distributors to speedily deliver more competitive and customized product solutions to merchants."

    This is being done through expanded product offerings, enhanced services and faster delivery. The Phoenix Group, POS Portal and Alliance Data were among the first resellers to sign up.

    Also, Paul Rasori, VeriFone's Vice President, Product Mark-eting, told The Green Sheet the issue of encrypting transaction data while it is in transit is something the PCI SSC just may examine in the near future.

  • AdvanceMe Inc., a leading provider of cash advances for small and mid-sized businesses, unveiled its portfolio valuation services unit, which is designed to help banks and other financial institutions gauge the market value of recently acquired or prospective merchant cash advance portfolios.

  • Those who stopped by Ingenico's booth learned the company was offering a free development kit and training to its value add partners in North America, using the Eclipse development environment. The kit is used to build applications on Ingenico's mature Unicapt multiple application framework.

The Green Sheet received press releases from numerous other exhibiting companies and posted the news on our home page (www.greensheet.com) under News From the Wire.

Shared wisdom

From the opening address by Brit Hume, Managing Editor of the Fox News Channel - he talked politics to a crowd that was warmed up by The Capitol Players, who poked fun at Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and John McCain in equal measure - to the closing panel of pros who discussed the state of the payments industry - and every session in between, payments professionals generously shared their knowledge with one another.

Many presentations took place in rooms partitioned in the back of the exhibition hall, which made them highly convenient to attend, thereby increasing attendance. Here's a sampling of topics that whetted many an attendee's appetite:

  • Selling the new check -ACH or Check 21
  • When interchange isn't really interchange
  • Optimizing relationships and portfolios
  • Healthcare RX
  • The mobile phone
  • Rules and regulations and more
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • PCI, security and you
  • International acquiring
  • Legal and regulatory forum
  • Marketplace of tomorrow
  • Economic trends and their impact

And then, of course, there were the happy hours and parties, public and private. But you know what they say about Vegas. end of article

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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