The payments industry continues to gain momentum, adding new members every year. And swelling numbers signal a constant need for trade associations to inform and inspire ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs). Education is imperative for unraveling complex issues, such as interchange and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance.
Some associations have been around for decades, and many ISOs and MLSs rely upon them when seeking information and networking opportunities. Other organizations are just starting to get their feet wet in the pay- ments arena.
The following is a look at industry associations in action today. More will be featured in Part II of this article, which will appear in an upcoming issue of The Green Sheet.
Web site: www.acainternational.org
Created in 1939 as the American Collectors Association, ACA International, The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, is a 501(c)(6) tax exempt organization that serves members and represents the industry by:
ACA's membership includes collection professionals, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendors in more than 55 countries.
Benefits: Members have access to the membership directory, which can be used for networking opportunities outside of ACA conferences. They also have the ability to contact association staff to discuss state and federal regulations or other issues that affect business.
On the horizon: ACA is gearing up for its 69th Annual Convention & Expo July 23 to 26, 2008, in Hollywood, Fla. According to John Nemo, Public Relations Director for ACA, the convention is the organization's biggest event. This year, the theme is Think Fresh and will feature 150 booths of industry products and services.
Web site: www.atmia.com
The ATM Industry Association, the only international, independent forum for the automated teller machine (ATM) industry, has more than 1,000 members in 50 countries (446 in the United States).
ATMIA's purpose is to promote ATM convenience, growth and usage worldwide to protect the ATM industry's assets, interests, good name and public trust. It also provides education, best practices, political voice and networking opportunities for member organizations.
In June 2003, ATMIA established the Global ATM Security Alliance to employ worldwide security resources to protect the ATM industry from cross-border criminal activity such as debit card fraud, skimming and ATM scams.
GASA consists of international card scheme investigative teams, law enforcement and fraud prevention agencies, ATM networks, industry associations, manufacturers, and security consultancies.
Benefits: ATMIA member benefits include:
Members also immediately gain password access to:
On the horizon: In 2009, ATMIA will launch a five-year plan, which will focus on the future of cash and the industry's involvement in combating fraud. The organization is also building alliances with Retail Banking Research Ltd. in London and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association in the United States to host joint industry events.
Web site: www.acquirers.ca
A newly formed organization, The Canadian Acquirers Association will hold its founding event June 12, 2008, in Toronto. The association is modeled after the U.S. regional associations and will serve Canadian payments professionals by providing resources tailored to their specific needs.
"The Canadian Acquirers Association is being created to provide networking, education and representation for the acquiring industry in Canada," said Attorney Adam Atlas, who specializes in the payments sphere.
"The Canadian acquiring industry is not only much smaller than the U.S. market, but it is also a lot more concentrated owing, partly, to the small number of Canadian acquiring banks," Atlas said. "There are only about six material players in the market."
Benefits: The following are CAA's main member perks:
As CAA grows, more benefits will be provided, Atlas said. For now, the organization is absorbing feedback from its members.
On the horizon: "At this moment, the hopes for the organization are extremely modest," Atlas said. CAA aims to provide regular networking opportunities and update its Web site to become a portal for learning. He added that once the organization is up and running and shows it is fulfilling a need for Canadian professionals, the organization will take on more responsibilities.
Web site: www.electran.org
The Electronic Transactions Association represents companies that offer electronic transaction processing products and services. The purpose of the ETA is to influence, monitor and help shape the merchant acquiring industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.
The ETA has come a long way since its debut in 1990. In the beginning, the association was known as the Bankcard Services Association and consisted of fewer than 20 members. It changed its name to the ETA in 1996 as an effort to broaden industry representation.
The ETA's membership consists of more than 500 companies worldwide, from financial institutions to transaction processors to ISOs to equipment suppliers. Its mission is to fully serve its members and advance the industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.
Benefits: Membership benefits include discount advertising rates for the ETA's color magazine Transaction Trends and 25 to 35 percent off registration to the ETA's Annual Meeting & Expo.
Members are eligible to attend ETA University (ETAU) courses and specialty programs that provide core knowledge in the payments industry. They also benefit from the ETA's efforts to monitor and influence legislative and regulatory issues, as well as represent their collective concerns to government and private entities.
The ETA's Web site can be a pivotal tool for members, as it provides detailed information on upcoming events; educational offerings; committee activities; publications; and newsworthy actions, trends and developments within or affecting the industry.
On the horizon: For the next year or so, the ETA will focus on electronic digital media and additional education. According to Tom Goldsmith, Communications and Public Relations Director for the ETA, an expansion of the Web site is in the works, which will provide additional networking capabilities for members.
According to Goldsmith, the ETA has developed and will soon launch the first electronic ETAU course. In the past, ETAU's format has been in-person sessions held at conferences, corporations and other venues. The first electronic class will be sales channel development; additional courses are expected to go live soon.
Web site: www.midwestacquirers.com
The Midwest Acquirers Association makes up one-fourth of the regional associations and is a not-for-profit, nonmembership, independent forum. Founded in 2003, MWAA's goal is to educate and update ISOs and MLSs on the industry.
According to President Jim McCormick, MWAA has completely revamped its Web site in order to offer more functionality to members. And feedback on the new site has been positive. "It needed a facelift," he said. "It is definitely benefiting us."
On the horizon: The annual conference will be July 23 to 25, 2008, in St. Louis at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand & Suites Hotel. It will feature the Field Guide Seminar for ISOs, speakers addressing educational topics, and networking opportunities for vendors and colleagues
MWAA board members have been tossing around ideas of hosting webinars or other educational opportunities to coincide with the new Web site. "That's something to be determined," McCormick said. "We're considering everything."
Web site: www.nacha.org
NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the automated clearing house (ACH) network. It brings hundreds of diverse payments groups together to enable the development of new network services and applications. It represents more than 11,000 financial institutions through direct membership and 19 regional payments associations.
NACHA is responsible for the administration, development and enforcement of the NACHA Operating Rules and risk management practices for the ACH network. The guidelines were established to ensure the ACH network infrastructure, application, rules and enforcement were consistent.
To stay on top of regulatory and government relations, NACHA maintains relationships with the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Benefits: NACHA offers a variety of conferences, workshops, teleconferences and publications to educate its members. It also administers the Accredited ACH Professional program exam every October to those who wish to obtain industry credentials.
On the horizon: NACHA is looking forward to The Payments Institute, a five-day course designed to accommodate both novices and experienced payments professionals. It is offering two courses this year. The first will be held June 22 to 26, 2008, in Scottsdale, Ariz.; the second will be July 27 to 31, 2008, in Atlanta.
NACHA recently teamed up with eWise Systems USA Inc. to offer Secure Vault Payments Switch (SVP), an online payment alternative that allows consumers to complete transactions without sharing financial data or account access. (For more information on SVP, see the news story "Removing e-merchants from payment data loop" in this issue of The Green Sheet.)
Web site: www.naopp.com
Founded in November 2003, the National Association of Payment Professionals is dedicated to providing education, benefits, representation and certification to independent payments professionals. The organization has roughly 300 members and meets at regional acquirers association meetings. "We don't hold shows," said NAOPP Vice President Jeff Fortney. "We're primarily an educational and benefits-based association."
NAOPP looks to empower its members by providing information and resources that members can't obtain as independent contractors. Offering an example, Fortney said, "You can't get health benefits on your own."
Benefits: According to Fortney, the organization is focusing on MLSs and "amplifying the benefit side of the equation" by offering discounts on everything from supplies to printing to marketing.
Members enjoy discounted registration to industry events. They also receive health insurance at a reduced rate and health savings accounts. If needed, NAOPP provides members with legal advice and counsel.
On the horizon: NAOPP is making a stronger push toward being an Internet hot spot for MLSs. The organization is in the process of revamping its Web site and changing Web hosts. "We're working hard to create a Web site that has value to it," Fortney said. Ultimately, NAOPP's long-term goal is to offer enough educational opportunities to supply the industry with well-informed, quality MLSs, Fortney said.
Web site: www.northamericanmaa.org
The North American Merchant Advance Association Inc. is a not-for-profit organization founded in April 2008 by 10 merchant cash advance businesses. It was established because the companies involved shared a belief that best practices and ethical standards were vital to the industry and fraud detection tools were necessary.
The organization represents businesses in the United States and Canada that advance working-capital products to small and mid-sized businesses based on credit, debit, or other card and electronic payment-related revenue streams. NAMAA created a fraud alert system and a database. It is similar to the Member Alert to Control High-Risk database, called the MATCH list, which contains information on merchants who have been terminated from transaction processing for cause.
Benefits: Along with the right to license and use NAMAA's name and logo, members gain access to the association's annual meeting, merchant fraud detection tools and list of merchants who are not in good standing with other members. Membership is open to anyone willing to do the following:
On the horizon: NAMAA is working on a system that identifies merchants who already have cash advances in place. It is also reviewing the ETA's best practices for guidance in writing its own best practices standards for members, as well as for cash advance industry agents and resellers.
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