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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 09, 2008 • Issue 08:06:01

Association roll call - Part II

The payments industry's continued growth signals a constant need for trade associations to inform and inspire ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs).

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 payments arena.

In "Association roll call - Part I," The Green Sheet, May 26, 2008, issue 08:05:02, we detailed half of the industry associations in action today. Here is a look at the remaining organizations.

National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals

Web site: www.napcp.org

The National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals is a nonprofit organization created in 1999 for purchasing card (p-card) professionals and practices. Its mission is to move the market forward, provide an organized forum for networking, educate p-card professionals, and establish and communicate standards.

The NAPCP sponsors such events as conferences and educational seminars. It prides itself on lobbying for individuals and organizations. The association is growing; there has been a 47 percent increase of membership since its inception, with more than 1,100 members to date.

Benefits: The NAPCP provides three types of membership: regular, associate and alliance. Regular members receive access to the following:

  • Resource center
  • White papers
  • Online membership directory
  • Career center
  • Resource guide
  • Newsletter

All members have the opportunity to obtain industry credentials and attend conferences, workshops and webinars at a discounted rate.

On the horizon: The NAPCP is expanding its educational programs by providing convenient and economical learning opportunities via audio calls, which update participants on a variety of topics and offer best practice guidelines on the implementation and management of p-card programs.

The NAPCP is also setting up regional forums and conferences and getting more people involved with the Web site. "The Web redesign will hopefully make it more interactive for readers," said Ashley Eggers, Event and Marketing Assistant for the NAPCP.

Northeast Acquirers Association

Web site: www.northeastacquirers.com

The Northeast Acquirers Association was the first regional acquirers group in existence. It is a not-for-profit, nonmembership-based organization founded to serve as an educational forum for financial institutions, ISOs and MLSs.

The NEAA distributes information on the latest technology, hottest topics in the payments industry, and changes to rules and regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

The organization has been hosting events for over two decades. Each event is funded through vendor sponsorship and minimal registration fees.

On the horizon: The NEAA is contemplating bringing back its summer conference, after straying from its two-meetings-per-year tradition in 2008. "This is the first summer we did not plan one," NEAA founding member and Treasurer Jacques Breton said. The organization retained its winter event, hosting its annual conference in January 2008.

According to Breton, the NEAA changed its format because the summer was jammed with other industry events. But board members feel the change may be causing them to lose part of their market. It is a "very good possibility" a summer event will return to the calendar; however, the organization's next conference will take place Jan. 27 to 30, 2009, in Mount Snow, Vt.

Network Branded Prepaid Card Association

Web site: www.nbpca.com

The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association is open to all individuals and groups interested in network branded (open-loop) prepaid cards. Its mission is to represent the common interest of all involved by providing a place for networking opportunities.

Anil D. Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer of TxCore Inc., founded the not-for-profit organization in 2005 because he saw a need for an association dedicated to the network branded prepaid card industry.

Benefits: Members enjoy an exclusive focus on prepaid cards. The NBPCA gives members up-to-date information through its electronic publication, Government Update. Each member is also eligible to serve on the board of directors.

The organization employs attorneys who have expertise in prepaid and electronic payments. Members gain an advantage from attorney perspectives during group meetings, including briefing sessions.

Members can contribute to the NBPCA's government relations efforts focused on the prepaid industry.

On the horizon: The NBPCA meets monthly with members by telephone. It also coordinates events. The organization will host its Government Relations Working Group meeting June 12 in Washington, D.C., and its Media and Consumer Education in-person meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25 in New York. Both events are strictly for members.

Smart Card Alliance

Web site: www.smartcardalliance.org

A not-for-profit, multi-industry association, the Smart Card Alliance is heavily invested in education and appropriate uses of smart card technology that protects privacy and enhances data security. It uses educational programs, market research and open forums to keep its members connected to industry leaders primarily in the United States and Latin America.

The SCA's mission is to:

  • Influence standards relevant to smart card adoption and implementation
  • Maintain a voice in public policy
  • Serve as an educational resource
  • Provide a forum for discussions and projects

To fulfill its mission, the SCA hosts conferences and webinars. It also administers Educational Institute courses pertaining to the industry and publishes reports, white papers and frequently asked questions. "The focus of all of this is to raise awareness of the use of smart card technology," said Randy Vanderhoof, Executive Director of the SCA.

According to Vanderhoof, the SCA has more than 180 organizational members, which translates to about 650 individual memberships. Also, its Web site subscriber list totals more than 8,000.

"We're the largest smart card industry association in the world, and the most active," Vanderhoof said.

Benefits: The SCA offers different levels of membership: leadership council, general, government, university and associate. Members gain visibility through active participation in meetings, conferences and other outreach efforts.

Members work with peers to find new ways to achieve business goals and prepare for change. By sharing the work with colleagues, members reduce the cost of research.

On the horizon: "One of the biggest things that we are in the process of developing is a certification program," Vanderhoof said.

Projected to launch in 2008, the program will have a combination of printed materials and resources created by the SCA's educational team. There will also be a one-day, intensive classroom training session before the exam.

The exam was created for members who expressed a desire to stand apart from their competition and for end users who wanted a means to determine who to conduct business with. "Companies need to know who they're partnering with," Vanderhoof said.

The SCA is also looking forward to its seventh annual Smart Cards in Government conference Oct. 22 to 24, 2008, in Washington, D.C.

Southeast Acquirers Association

Web site: www.southeastacquirers.com

Founded in 2000, the Southeast Acquirers Association is a not-for-profit, nonmembership group for payments industry professionals. The SEAA educates the ISO and MLS community and provides access to the payments industry's latest trends and regulatory changes.

In March 2008, the SEAA hosted its annual conference in New Orleans. According to Vice President Claudia Zane, members took time out for the community by organizing a cleanup at New Orleans City Park.

The experience is something that resonated with her. "It was unbelievable," she said. "It was really nice to do something and see progress."

On the horizon: This is the calm before the storm for the SEAA. "There's not a whole lot going on right now," Zane said. "We're really in the planning process."

The board members are evaluating venues for the 2009 annual conference, which is expected to be held in Florida. The SEAA chose the tentative location after receiving an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from those who attended 2007's conference in the Sunshine State. "Our thought process was to be in Florida every other year," Zane said.

The board is also on the hunt for a keynote speaker who can deliver a motivational speech to attendees.

Western Payments Alliance

Web site: www.wespay.org

With roots going back to the San Francisco Check Clearing House established in 1876, the Western Payments Alliance is the oldest and one of the nation's largest regional payments associations.

The nonprofit organization works with NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association to serve as an automated clearing house (ACH) rule-making body for the ACH network in WesPay's service area (California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, part of Washington, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands).

WesPay's membership consists of 1,000 depository financial institutions and more than 100 corporations and professional service organizations.

Each year, WesPay hosts the Payments Symposium, where members can stay up-to-date on key trends and issues concerning the payments industry.

Benefits: Members have the advantage of a members-only section of the organization's Web site, as well as a quarterly publication filled with articles on hot topics in the industry.

Members have numerous training opportunities, including live classroom workshops, teleseminars and archived sessions on the Internet. There are also prep courses for members who wish to take NACHA's annual accredited ACH Professional exam.

On the horizon: WesPay is hosting its seventh annual Payments Symposium Sept. 7 to 9, 2008, in Las Vegas. It is also gearing up for its inaugural ACH Operations Conference immediately following the symposium, Sept. 9 to 10, 2008, in Las Vegas.

Expanding its Payments Insight product - a series of reference works designed for use by payments professionals as a desktop guide - introduced in March 2008, WesPay plans to roll out six to seven new modules in 2009.

Western States Acquirers Association

Web site: www.westernstatesacquirers.com

Founded in 2004, the Western States Acquirers Association is a nonprofit, nonmembership organization dedicated to educating and informing payments industry professionals. Events are open to all and are funded through vendor sponsorship and minimal registration fees.

For many years, Secretary of WSAA, Sherry Friedrichsen, held a miniature tradeshow for the now defunct Bankcard Association of Southern California.

Steve Eazell, Vice President of WSAA, noticed NEAA events reached a level of high interest with payments professionals, while this tradeshow didn't.

Eazell enlisted Friedrichsen, and, along with several others, created WSAA. "Really, the star of the whole show is Sherry," Eazell said. "She's fantastic. We couldn't do it without her."

On the horizon: WSAA will hold its fifth annual conference Sept. 23 to 26, 2008, in Scottsdale, Ariz. "We're kind of stepping out of our comfort zone, here," Eazell said.

In the past, the conference has been in California because the majority of attendees were from the Golden State. But results from last year's event showed that half of participants were from other states.

So, the board opted for a change of scenery. "I think people will truly enjoy the location," Eazell said.

Also, the WSAA is in the midst of generating new content for its Web site. According to Eazell, the overhaul is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Women Networking in Electronic Transactions (W.net)

Web site: www.w-net.biz

W.net was founded in 2005 by Holli Targan, Partner in law firm Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss; Mary Gerdts, Chief Executive Officer and President of both POST Integrations, Inc. and EboCom LLC; Linda Perry, Vice President and Regional Manager of Member Relations at Visa Inc.; and Diane Vogt, President of National Merchant Services for First Data Commercial Services.

These women decided there was a need for a woman's networking and mentoring organization in the payments industry. The founders have a combined 100 years of experience in electronic transactions.

The organization's mission is to inspire and empower women in the industry to maximize their individual potential and position themselves for greater personal success.

Members consist of chief executive officers, presidents, senior management and other positions in the payments industry.

W.net focuses on:

  • Professional and leadership development
  • Networking opportunities
  • Peer support
  • Educational programs
  • Leadership seminars

Benefits: One of the most important benefits is members get access to top women in the industry. Members reap many rewards, such as:

  • Awards and recognition program
  • Career center
  • Forum
  • Membership directory
  • Gateway to Success mentoring program
  • Newsletter
  • Speakers bureau

On the horizon: "We're just really excited about the new things going on this year," said W.net Managing Director Victoria Tobin. W.net is gearing up for its annual Designer Bootcamp Career Development and Leadership Summit to take place Oct. 23 to 24, 2008, in Chicago. At the event, the organization will host an awards ceremony.

Also, for the first time, W.net is taking the show on the road with its Local Interest Networking Circle (LINC) meetings. The most recent LINC meeting was held in conjunction with the Electronic Transactions Association Annual Meeting & Expo in April 2008.

The next LINC meeting will take place June 19, 2008, in Atlanta. Upcoming Chicago and Denver events are in the planning stages. end of article

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