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First Midwest Acquirers Meeting Is a Wall-to-Wall Success

The meeting room was so cramped, trying to get to the vendors was truly a contact sport. The luncheon had to be divided into three rooms, with the keynote speech delivered via television hookup from the main seating area. And the final session, an All-Star lineup of big names talking about the future of the industry, wasn't nearly long enough.

So was the first Midwest Acquirers Association meeting a disappointment? Hardly! It was such an incredible success, the group's Vice President, Caroline Marino of Ingenico, called it "overwhelming." How successful? This successful:

  • The organizers originally hoped to get 150 attendees to come to Chicago in late July 2003. The final tally was 396. No wonder Hotel Allegro, which normally caters to much smaller wedding parties, was wall-to-wall with Merchant Level Salespeople and vendors. This was a marriage made in heaven as far as industry people in the Midwest were concerned.

  • The general sessions, with topics ranging from gift cards to check conversion to prepaid to acquiring rules, were educational and productive. Among the list of high-profile speakers was attorney Holli Hart-Targan.

  • Ed Freedman of Total Merchant Services injected passion and enthusiasm into the luncheon speech.

  • Vendors and ISOs alike relished the opportunity to network. In fact, one vendor arrived and paid the full fare midway through the meeting's only full day. "We had modest goals to begin with," said MWAA President Mark Dunn of Newtek Merchant Solutions. "But you can tell from all the side conversations that we've created a business ferment here."
The MWAA grew out of Dunn's experiences at other industry gatherings, or "an accumulation of layers of paint," as he put it. He was particularly stirred by his brushes with the Northeast Acquirers Association, which meets twice a year.
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