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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 13, 2024 • Issue 24:05:01

TRANSACT 2024 reflects evolving payments sphere

By Dale S. Laszig

The word “transact” has special meaning for payments professionals. It represents an industry, a way of doing business and a signature annual event. TRANSACT 2024 attracted 3,000 attendees and over 150 exhibitors from across the payments ecosystem, according to the Electronic Transactions Association, which has hosted the conference for 30 years.

Jodie Kelley, CEO of ETA, welcomed exhibitors, sponsors, attendees and ETA members as next-generation leaders took the stage amid wild applause and flashing cameras—an auspicious beginning to the event, which ran from April 16 to 19, 2024, at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

“What an amazing way to start the show,” she said. “The ETA’s Forty Under 40 recognizes payments industry game changers and ETA Young Payments Professionals [provides] access to valuable resources, knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of payments leaders. We are delighted to partner with Discover on these programs.”

Adding value

Throughout the exhibit hall, live demonstrations reflected the payments industry’s journey from proprietary systems to open-source, interoperable platforms. Leading manufacturers, previously focused on countertop terminals and PIN pads, showcased flexible, modular solutions designed to be easy to manage, customize and deploy. For Brad Giles, senior vice president, marketing and sales enablement at Ingenico, Transact was more than a gathering. “Ideas form at this event; conversations breed innovation, and the content being shared here is critical to our success,” he said. “Technology providers have so many ways to add value, create loyalty and expand choice, because payments touch everything and represent the ultimate interaction with consumers.”

For Joe Mach, CEO of Castles Technology North America, Transact was a thought leadership hub where he and other executives could share insights and forge strategic partnerships. “This year, we witnessed exciting announcements of new products, solutions and partnerships that underscore the vibrant innovation within our sector,” he said. “It's imperative that we continue to drive forward the evolution of Transact to keep pace with the dynamic needs of the payments industry.”

Embedding payments

John Arato, senior vice president, sales for PAX Technology, and panelists Manny Garcia, CEO, On the Fly, and Pat Ward, head of ISV partnerships, DishOut, discussed the evolution from proprietary hardware to embedded payment systems with moderator Peter Vogel, chief revenue officer at vPromo. “Smart terminals have software that is easy to use,” Arato said. “Merchants can leverage their SDKs and customizable screens to add value to their infrastructures.” Garcia mentioned that interoperability fosters collaboration. “Let’s build market share and robust embedded solutions together,” he said, noting that no company can do it alone.

Jenn Reichenbacher, chief marketing officer for Stax Payments, has seen companies compete in certain areas and collaborate in others. “These innovative partnerships are helping SaaS companies, ISOs and SMBs transform the customer experience by creating flexible, multi-channel payment processing and invoicing solutions,” she said.

Automating, digitizing

Nick Botha, global payments sales manager at AutoRek, called payments a fast-growing sector in financial services, asset management, insurance and banking. “The UK and EU markets are familiar with automated reconciliation solutions, and the U.S. is catching on,” he said. “We’re here to meet existing and prospective clients and build teams; from a networking and branding perspective, Transact has been huge for us.”

One Inc CEO Ian Drysdale noted that payments is a number one touchpoint in property and casualty insurance, where fully digitized workflows are accelerating claims processing, supporting multiple payment methods and eliminating convenience fees.

“Insurers realize they need to do business differently in a world where we stare at our phones,” he said. “In the aftermath of an earthquake or fire, our insurance partners can buzz a claimant’s phone with a deposit before they’re even off the phone with an adjuster.”

Austin Talley, CEO at Everyware, said seamless integrations into everyday devices, like smart refrigerators, are embedding financial decisions into daily life. “Personalized payments solutions, backed by AI and big data, can evaluate a consumer’s lifestyle, medical history and risk profiles to offer personalized insurance, investment and savings plans,” he said.

Enabling, facilitating

Judith McGuire, senior vice president, global products for Discover Global Network, recalled her 20-year journey with Discover, which began in Houston with early digital products that grew into a full product shop. “It takes a full ecosystem to support payments,” she said. “As a global brand focused on acceptance and issuance with partners across the globe, I think our place in the ecosystem and our job is to solve problems and simplify acceptance.”

Making solutions as easy as possible for complex legacy environments has been a key focus, McGuire stated, noting this is critical as consumers increasingly tap with phones at the POS, make in-app purchases and merchants embed payments and use network tokens. These benefits help increase authorizations and lower fraud, she added.

Tiffany Johnson, chief product officer at NMI, discussed payment facilitation in a panel with Caroline Hometh, managing partner at RPY Innovations, and Deana Rich, co-CEO and co-founder for Infinicept. The three executives agreed the shifting economy, rising cost of money, and increasing risk and compliance burdens have impacted existing and aspiring payfacs.

“Micro and macro elements like cash, cards, digital, regulations, schemes and cost of capital are top of mind among business owners,” Johnson said, noting that software companies are exploring a variety of payfac models in light of these economic influences. Hometh concurred, stating that increased regulatory oversight has prompted software companies to explore payfac partnership benefits, such agile underwriting, anti-money laundering, transaction monitoring, money movement and money movement oversight. “Vertical software companies are one of my favorites to work with because they find a problem and solve it and I get to help them use their tools,” Hometh said, adding that Wells Fargo pulled out of payment facilitation in 2022, underscoring the need to work with secondary vendors.

Monitoring, protecting

Leo Patching, founder and CEO at Kompliant, said Transact is a strong reminder that in-person connecting is a catalyst for learning and doing business. “The payments ecosystem truly requires many stakeholders coming together to build a unified experience for consumers, and so an environment that drives shared learning and broadening of perspectives is high value,” he said.

Reflecting on evolving Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Business (KYB) landscapes, Patching cited enhanced regulatory scrutiny, global standardization, automation and rise of non-traditional data sources as trends reshaping compliance management. “Adoption of AI and blockchain is revolutionizing KYC and KYB, making them faster and more accurate through automation and digital solutions,” he said. “This is enabling payments providers to reshape their abilities to provide improved customer experiences and greater service capabilities while protecting bad actors.” Adam Perella, manager at Schellman, speculated on how AI will change transaction flows in a discussion he moderated with Gia Griffith, vice president, risk for Visa, and Yuelin Li, chief product officer at Onfido. Griffith remarked that AI is a great tool but can’t be rolled out tomorrow.

“Hiring two or three security experts to build a suite takes time and about $5 million,” she said. “Why not hire a technology startup?” Yuelin noted that privacy laws, prevalent in Europe, are heading to U.S. shores to dictate how data is managed. “From a pure data point of view, GDPR requires enterprises to obtain user consent on data that is shared.”

Partnering, collaborating

Peter Galvin, chief marketing officer at NMI, said the company's focus has always been working with traditional retail and wholesale ISOs. “ETA gives us, our channel account managers and teams, the ability to meet with so many partners,” he said, noting that NMI held meetings at its booth and adjacent NMI University. Throughout the show, he said discussions focused on software vendors accepting payments, ISOs investing in software companies, and industries exploring digitization.

Greg Cohen, CEO of Fortis, pointed out that independent software vendors (ISVs) are shaping the industry, which is about more than payments. “It’s about strong partnerships, integrations and cross-pollination. Payments were the first embedded solutions and continue to expand" into new form factors and use cases.

Kelley mentioned that ISVs are shaping ETA membership and represent the industry’s future. “ISVs are clearly on trend,” she said. “Existing companies are building their own software; B2B members have different lines of business; this is not an old guard/new guard convergence—everyone is partnering and all are part of the ecosystem.”

Branding, networking

Amanda Beam, director, partner success for Maverick Payments, gave out bracelets and took selfies with industry friends. “The booths are what I love most,” she said. “They’re so creative and next-level and give us a glimpse of the creativity behind the brands.”

Amit Zenou, vice president, marketing at Dejavoo, said Transact was an ideal venue for her company’s rebranding, new website and major exhibition, all in one week. “It’s the technology we take to ISOs, who take it to agents, who take it to merchants. Throughout this value exchange, hands are the common denominator, hence the hand in our logo.” Dejavoo needed to unite the entire company, and Transact brought everyone together in a way that’s efficient, meaningful—and challenging, because it’s important to have a challenge, Zenou stated. It’s clear, Zenou added, that Dejavoo would not have launched its new chapter anywhere but Transact 2024. end of article

Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and founder and CEO at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. Connect via email dale@dsldirectllc.com, LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/dalelaszig/ and Twitter twitter.com/DSLdirect.

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