By Ann Train
As part of a self-regulated industry, it is incumbent upon payments industry trade associations and stakeholders to develop best practices, resources and certification programs that guide the careers of payment professionals. "Training turns tactical in payments biz," The Green Sheet, June 12, 2017, issue, 17:06:01, detailed several noteworthy training programs on the company level. This article identifies pivotal players endeavoring to prepare individuals industry-wide for a future in payments.
To help staff achieve proficiency and consistency in critical areas, many organizations rely on external sources to augment internal training. Payments industry consultant Mark Dunn, President of Field Guide Enterprises LLC, who served as an expert witness on training in a Federal Trade Commission action, said the legal risk and implications involved in running an organization and training has added complexity that can challenge even small businesses.
"Whether you have direct salespeople or agents, someone who is out there selling your program, you are responsible in some way for their actions," Dunn said, adding that payment companies need to document exactly how people were trained, what they were told to do, and have individuals sign and date when such training occurred.
Sean Murray, President of deBanked, an expert in merchant cash advance and alternative finance, agreed, noting that ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) are not absolved of liability and are responsible for communicating accurately with clients. Recently, he has observed an increase in merchant disputes over agreements due to verbal and email misrepresentation of services or products before contracts were signed.
One challenge for ISOs is how to integrate company core values into the training experience and then deliver that message consistently across channels. This applies to direct and independent sales teams equally, Dunn noted.
He advises clients in such areas as niche market expansion, portfolio valuation and integrated training. His Field Guide ISO Workshop details how to build and run a successful ISO. He also offers an online bankcard sales training program with 10 lessons divided into about 35 segments. It generally takes 15 hours to complete, including tests, and can be white labeled. For more information, visit www.gofieldguide.com.
"Most of the ISOs who are using the Field Guide online training have a staff of one to 30 people," Dunn said. "It's a way to get people through baseline training, with a lot of detail, so ISOs can move on to the coaching stage. When we're building these skill- and experience-based teams, we have to think about ongoing coaching, because the best performers are constantly being coached by somebody."
Dunn's Field Guide seminars have been a continuing-education staple at regional acquirers' conferences since 2004. The six-session seminars are presented by subject-matter experts and cover timely topics of interest to Midwest Acquirers Association and Western States Acquirers Association conference attendees.
More than 14,000 payment professionals have participated in Glenbrook Partners LLC's Payments Boot Camp over the past decade. This intensive two-day training program, conducted in various cities throughout the year, may also be scheduled on site and customized. The agenda typically covers payment systems; users and core providers; and developments in global, digital, POS, blockchain and faster payment technologies.
"The vast majority of our attendees participate in a private boot camp where Glenbrook instructors come to our client's location and deliver a version of the boot camp customized to meet the company's instructional needs," said George Peabody, Partner at Glenbrook. "We often build a unit that provides our client with Glenbrook's external view of our client's market position and role."
Glenbrook also conducts one-day Insight Workshops to focus in-depth on specific topics, including faster payments from a global perspective and the complex systems that support digital payments. For more information about these and other programs and services, visit www.glenbrook.com.
Another payments industry veteran who has led the training charge is Bill Pirtle, currently serving as Affiliation & Partnership Development Specialist for custom POS solutions provider Active Software & Hardware Systems in Michigan.
Pirtle published Navigivating Through the Risks of Credit Card Processing for merchants prior to releasing Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents in 2012. Both books are available on Amazon.com. A growing number of sales trainers and agents consider the 648-page agent volume to be an essential tool. A second, expanded edition of the agent volume, projected for release in early 2018 on Amazon, will contain updated material and a facilitator's guide, which can be used in sales agent classroom training situations.
"There is so much more new material to cover with advances in mobile and tools for agents," Pirtle said. "It will cover surcharges, convenience fees, new markets, advances in point-of-sale systems and how to get better credit card margins in the process. My forte is finding the best people in their respective topics and having them present the topics. If you are brand new, the idea for the flow is to start at the beginning and end at expert."
With the influx of merchant cash advance and alternative finance products entering the market in recent years, understanding the nuances can be challenging. To help ISOs and MLSs distinguish between products, deBanked co-produced an online training and certification program titled Merchant Cash Advance Basics.
"It's focused on sales reps and underwriters, the people who are going to be speaking with the merchants," Murray said, adding that the program is affordably priced. Over 300 individuals have completed MCA certification since the program launched in late 2016. The online training, composed of four training and testing sections, covers business versus consumer, purchase versus loan and MCA versus loan transactions; the various types of MCA transactions; and common events related to default. For more information, visit CounselorLibrary.com LLC at mcabasics.training.
One industry organization that has played a critical role in educating payment professionals is the Electronic Transactions Association. In 2009, the ETA committed resources to developing a certification program for sales agents that would demonstrate professional competency and promote ethical business practices within the industry. Two years later, the ETA Certified Payments Professional (CPP) program had enrolled and certified its first class of students.
Nearly 1,500 agents have become CPP certified to date, and about 150 were scheduled to test for certification in June, according to the ETA. A CPP Study Guide accompanies the program, which contains six educational domains: sales; pricing and interchange; process/operations/workflow; products/solutions/mobile technology; risk; and regulatory/compliance/security.
Through the ETA University program, payment professionals can complete courses online and in-person at industry events in preparation for the CPP exam, as well as to maintain proficiency between exams, since certification remains valid for three year increments. The ETA offers additional opportunities to learn through hosted events, webinars, committees, and educational resources and guidelines.
"We're always deploying new initiatives based on the needs of our members," said Meghan Cieslak, ETA Director of Communications. "For example, leading up to the EMV liability shift, we made available to members white-labeled education packets to inform their merchants about the coming shift, so they wouldn't have to invest in that themselves, and they would have reputable third-party independent organization support."
Among the other resources available through the organization are underwriting and risk monitoring guidelines, U.S. mobile payment standards and specifications, payment facilitator guidelines, an Internet of Things report, and merchant guide for modernizing payment systems.
Building on these initiatives, the ETA appointed Jessica Mosley as Director of Education and Professional Development in April 2017. "Our goal is to expand our online education offerings to reach more people," Mosley said. "We have a really great professional development committee and are always looking for engaged volunteers. We're working to develop education programming, both webinars and online courses, to best meet member needs that are on pace with what's going on in the industry."
To learn more about the ETA and its programs, visit www.electran.org, www.electran.org/education/ or www.electran.org/certification.
Two respected trade organizations that train payments industry professionals on the security side of payments are the PCI Security Standards Council and Secure Technology Alliance. Both offer certification programs and ample resources.
The PCI SSC not only develops payment security standards, but its certification programs span the globe. "With feedback from actors all over the world, we put together best practices and a global infrastructure to implement them," said Mauro Lance, Chief Operating Officer at the PCI SSC. "We have nine standards that are core and cover the entire payment channel" from point-of-interaction to encryption, tokenization and so on.
Over 2,000 Qualified Security Assessors help companies worldwide assess environments for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance. Its Qualified Integrators & Resellers program prepares individuals to install secure payment applications in merchant environments. "It takes about eight hours to complete the training, which is computer based," said Lance. A proctored exam at one of approximately 7,000 global testing centers is the final step.
Another certification broadly adopted by payment professionals is the PCI Professional, a qualification for anyone who develops or sells payment products. Coursework covers the essential principles behind the PCI security standards and requirements, how transactions flow, self-assessment questionnaires, and other key elements of payment security.
The benefits of PCI SSC membership as a Participating Organization include discounts on training and events, receipt of the council's weekly digest, participation on the board of advisors and in drafting standards, and the opportunity to submit proposals for new guidelines. For more information, visit www.pcisecuritystandards.org; for certifications click on "Training & Qualifications."
The Secure Technology Alliance (formerly the Smart Card Alliance) offers professional training and development in several vertical markets, including payments. Its three-part payments program includes an online, members-only LEAP (Leadership, Education and Advancement Program), which provides access to a digital library housing white papers, webinars, recorded workshops and proceedings from past conferences.
"A lot of the material we cover is how payment transactions flow, what security checks and balances are built into the payments ecosystem and what has changed with the addition of EMV chip technology," said Randy Vanderhoof, Executive Director of the alliance. "We then expand that focus to mobile payments and how payment technologies get implemented differently in transit and paid parking applications," for example.
The second part of training involves completion of online modules to qualify for the Certified Smart Card Industry Professional (CSCIP) credential. "When they're ready for testing, we have a one-day training course which highlights the major learning points in the training documentation and prepares individuals for the certification exam," Vanderhoof said, noting that while not mandatory, the course helps with the final step in certification, the CSCIP exam.
To maintain CSCIP certification, individuals are required to subscribe to LEAP for updates on matters impacting the industry. The alliance also hosts events, classes and workshops at its National Center for Advanced Payments and Identity Security facility located in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.securetechalliance.org.
The major card brands also provide online and in-person training directly to payment professionals. Visa developed The Visa Business School, which offers a full curriculum of online courses, scheduled workshops and events to Visa clients, including issuers, acquirers and processors. For more details, visit https://www.visabusinessschool.com/en.
Mastercard's eLearning Platform features modules on card rules and standards, customer compliance programs, data security, dynamic currency conversion, dispute resolution and chargebacks, to name several (visit http://www.mastercard.com/elearning/). Mastercard also conducts fraud-prevention training and offers additional resources online via https://globalrisk.mastercard.com/online_resource/fraud-prevention-training.
All combined, the resources and certifications available to payment professionals today are comprehensive. In a constantly changing industry, choosing one or more training programs to meet professional demands can lead to career advancement.
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