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Issue 05:03:02
News

Industry Update

Cardtronics Keeps Growing

Truncation Applicable to Merchant Receipts?

It's a Win for Edwin in Las Vegas

It's Decided: "Greentastic Voyage" Winner Chooses South Africa

Report Sheds Positive Light on Gift Card Swapping

Diebold's Turn in the Antitrust Hot Seat

Features

At an Impasse Over Interchange

By Ann All

Views

Online Debit Interchange: More Increases Coming?

By Ken Musante

Add Sizzle to Your Bottom Line This Summer: Offer a Suite of Seasonal Solutions

By Michelle Graff

When Good Reps Go Bad By

Lazaros Kalemis

Popularity Is a Two-edged Sword for Prepaid Cards

By Patti Murphy

Education

Street SmartsSM:
'See You Where the Rubber Meets the Road'

By Ed Freedman

Many Thanks for Two Great Years of "Street Smarts"

By Julie O'Ryan

Avoiding a Buyout Blowup

By Adam Atlas

Things You Need to Know Part 2: The Risks of Risk

By Kimberley Marvin

Using the Web to Market Your Company

By Joel Rydbeck

New Products

Lenny Briscoe's Identity Theft Solution

Adding Agility to P2P Market

Help Desk Service Free, for All

Converting Paper Checks to E-checks at the POP

Company Profiles

Mitek Systems Inc.

Central Bancard LLC

Inspiration

Coping With Business Travel

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

Everything to Be Proud of at 2005 ETA Annual Meeting and Expo

The Las Vegas ad campaign, "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas," might ring true for many tourists leaving the city, but attendees of the 2005 Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) Annual Meeting and Expo have no reason to quell what happened at this year's event.

In the months leading up to the conference, ETA promised plenty of excitement and action for the industry's biggest show. Between exhibit hall exuberance, a lineup of vital presentation topics and select opening speakers, ETA, in its second year with Executive Director Carla Balakgie at the helm, delivered on its promise.

ETA held the event at the Mirage Hotel and Casino March 15 - 17, and offered a number of pre-conference activities on March 14.

Although a final tally on overall attendance was not available at press time, the association's estimates are impressive: At least 2,900 people attended the conference. ETA did provide actual numbers for ETA University (ETAU) participants and companies in the exhibit hall, however: 467 ETAU attendees and 178 exhibiting companies (up from 146 last year). And nearly 300 people attended the President's Dinner.

"This meeting continues to develop as the premier event for the payments industry," Balakgie said. "Even as we grow, we are strongly focused on delivering the highest quality business, education and social interaction possible."

Plenty of Education and Action

Pre-conference events on Monday and Tuesday included ETAU courses, the annual President's Dinner sponsored by Hypercom Corp., the ETA Golf Tournament sponsored by Ambiron, a new member/first time attendee reception, and a women's networking fair, a new ETA event.

On Wednesday morning, David W. Nelms, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Discover Financial Services, opened the day with a talk on Discover and his perspective on the future of the payments industry.

Educational and breakout sessions on Wednesday and Thursday covered hot topics such as legal and security compliance, emerging technologies, mobile commerce, risk management, fraud, and updates on e-checks and Check 21.

Since most attendees probably did not make it to every presentation on the agenda, ETA provided slides in hard copy in bins in the main hallway of the Mirage's convention center, which was a thoughtful and well-received gesture.

Following dinner on Wednesday night, ETA hosted a "Moroccan Magic" party in the grand ballroom, complete with a live camel and live snakes, henna tattoos, fortune tellers, belly dancing, exotic drinks, appetizers and music. Hundreds of people attended and stayed until closing (around midnight).

On Thursday, Harvey Mackay, author of many inspirational books including "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," opened the day with some insight on business and life.

"If you catch an employee looking out the window, or even catch yourself looking out the window, congratulate them and yourself," he said. "Thinking is the hardest, most valuable task any person can perform."

Exhibit Hall Excitement and Stimulation

In ETA's exhibit hall, it's all about networking, product demos and competing for the attention of attendees, whether through gimmicks or giveaways. And because this year's expanded exhibit hall housed 178 vendors, many took a new and clever approach to attracting interest.

The hall opened Tuesday evening, and ETA provided plenty of opportunities, through beverage breaks and lunches, to return throughout the conference. Following are some highlights:

Anyone walking around the hall couldn't have missed North American Bancard's brightly dressed Las Vegas show girls wearing huge feathered headpieces.

Retriever Payment Systems opened the "Retriever Lounge," complete with comfortable leather couches, coffee tables, a piano player, and guest appearances by Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin look-alikes.

Hypercom created a miniature strip mall in which nine merchants were represented, including a shoe shiner, dry cleaner, dental office, bookstore/caf‚, corner grocer, beauty salon, convenience store, quick service restaurant and local bar/restaurant. Each provided services to attendees while demonstrating a different Hypercom terminal payment solution.

During the opening reception, EVO Merchant Services served cosmopolitans and lemon drop, green apple and tropical passion martinis from a bar carved entirely out of ice.

Cynergy Data offered free 10 minute massages at its booth throughout the conference. As attendees settled into massage chairs for a few stolen minutes of relaxation, masseuses queued silent Cynergy PowerPoint presentations on strategically placed laptops.

Representatives from Bankcard Services, an electronic transaction processor that specializes in serving Asian merchants in the United States, dressed in traditional costumes and make up and gave out wooden fans and delicately knotted bookmarks.

Exadigm Inc. treated people to fresh fruit and sponge cake for dipping in a chocolate waterfall, and at least two exhibitors enticed attendees to enter to win time in their money booths for some good old fashioned cash snatching.

First Data Corp. lured exhibit hall roamers with very practical giveaway items: portable USB drives that stored ETA Annual Meeting and Expo session handouts. Other popular giveaways included Money Tree Merchant Services' multi-colored light-up pens.

At The Green Sheet's first-ever ETA booth, squishy "stress" balls in six different animal shapes were a big hit (see "It's a Win for Edwin in Las Vegas" on page 59) along with our "Greentastic Voyage" giveaway: an all-expense paid trip for two to either South Africa or Maui, Hawaii (see "It's Decided: 'Greentastic Voyage' Winner Chooses South Africa" on page 66).

The technology itself also grabbed the attention of conference attendees. Many new product offerings in Internet protocol-based and wireless technologies captivated payment professionals. And this year, contactless technology ruled the show, with all the major players, including Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard International showcasing their latest solutions.

A Lively Closing Session

Balakgie closed the conference on Thursday afternoon by thanking the event's sponsors, attendees and volunteers. "We have a vibrant, active and clearly growing community," she said. "Our sponsors are an integral part of putting on an event like this."

Following Balakgie's statements, the lights dimmed and the harmonizing "Six Real Brothers" came on stage to liven the crowd with popular Beach Boys songs. After their performance, the much anticipated Bill O'Reilly of Fox News took the stage and closed the 2005 Annual Meeting and Expo with his views of the current business and political climate and advice for the electronic transactions industry.

Mark Your Calendars

The 2006 ETA Annual Meeting and Expo is set for April 18 - 20 at the glimmering Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
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