GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing
Links Related
to this Story:

Letter from NAOPP's new President

Editor's note: Ken Hancock, the new President of the National Association of Payment Professionals (NAOPP), posted the following letter on GS Online's MLS Forum on Jan. 17, 2006, titled "Open Letter from Incoming NAOPP President to Green Sheet Forums," in response to a number of questions posed concerning NAOPP's direction as an organization and status on various initiatives for its members, including health insurance.

First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm Ken Hancock, the new President of the National Association of Payment Professionals (NAOPP). I've been involved with NAOPP since 2003, holding several offices and chairing several committees. I've been in the bankcard industry since 1991 and have owned my own office since 1993. But ... all of that is history. What you are most concerned about is where NAOPP is going in the future.

"There have been several posts in recent weeks regarding NAOPP. I will attempt to address some of the issues raised. Many excellent ideas have been suggested, most of which we have already discussed or we have been working toward implementing.

"Insurance for a moderately sized, nationwide organization is a difficult subject. Because of the variety of state laws, it is next to impossible to find an insurance company that can provide everything to all members. Additionally, many insurance companies are cutting back on coverage for associations for just that reason. It is too difficult for them to effectively market, much less manage, such a wide variety of individual wants and needs, yet remain legally compliant.

"We feel confident that the program put together by Chuck Saden is a solid program for the majority of our members. There will always be exceptions, and you may be able to find a better program on your own. It is there as an option for our members, just as the health spending accounts; reduced legal fees for contract review; 401(k) plan; and discounted registration fees for industry events are.

"While we have used [the program] to attract new members, we hope that you, the merchant level salesperson (MLS), join NAOPP for a large number of reasons, not just one. If you ... find a program that you feel would benefit the membership, feel free to forward it to us; we'll be happy to review it.

"There is an obvious Catch-22 to membership fees. The original thought behind having an introductory $25 membership fee for MLSs was to get membership numbers up and increase NAOPP's constituency. The difficulty that presents itself is when a potential member looks at NAOPP and says, 'What benefits do I get for my membership?'

"We have looked into literally hundreds of potential relationships with companies that could offer benefits to our members. We will be unveiling several of those relationships in the coming months.

"The unfortunate reality is that many of our desired relationships are stymied by the fact that we don't have thousands of members. Thus the quandary: If [we couldn't] get them to join for $25, how will they join for a higher membership fee? I'm not aware of anyone paying their $25 for membership more than once. That will be changing this year, as we will be sending out renewals shortly.

"As we are aware that MLSs will ask, 'What have you done for me lately?' here's what we've accomplished in the last year:

  1. We have formed a legal Delaware corporation.
  2. We have filed for nonprofit status (approval expected any day).
  3. We have finished a complete audit of our financials.
  4. We have found and hired an Executive Director.
  5. We have had our by-laws reviewed and revised by a Parliamentarian.
  6. We have participated with an educational session or gathering at five regional meetings per year for the past two and a half years.
  7. We have gotten our members discounts, greater than their $25 membership fee, to the regional meetings and to the [Electronic Transactions Association] ETA Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas.
  8. We have revised and, more importantly, revitalized the NAOPP Web site (
  9. We have sent out our first two issues of our monthly e-mail newsletter (next issue early next week).
  10. We meet a minimum of 60 - 90 minutes, three Wednesday mornings per month.

"We do all of this in addition to running our own businesses and making a living for ourselves, our spouses and our children. While not all the above accomplishments are necessarily glamorous or exciting to our members, they were necessary steps to [take to] lay a solid foundation for YOUR association.

"For us to continue what we have started, we need more money. Those of you who have intimated that $25 isn't a high enough membership fee are correct. It served its purpose to get us a base of members. It has become apparent to almost everyone that 'you get what you pay for.' And by paying next to nothing, you personally haven't received what you were looking for.

"Our main goals for the year regarding our members are as follows:

  1. Continue to add benefits for our members. Review and revise the benefits that currently exist to see if we can enhance/improve them in any way.
  2. Develop a continuing education program and test by year-end. This is an enormous undertaking and will be headed by one of our founders, Bill Paul. This will be done to ensure that our members have current knowledge of all aspects of our chosen profession. Eventually, we hope to have industry vendors give discounts to those who have completed the program (e.g., better lease factors from a leasing company if you have completed the program).
  3. Strengthen our committees. An individual from the board of directors will head each of our committees. The committees will need at least three to four NAOPP members to participate on a minimum of one conference call per month to complete the committee's business.

    By dividing the work between dozens of people rather than just the board of directors, we hope to accomplish more of our objectives. Additionally, it will identify to us possible future board members. As openings on the committees become available, we will contact our membership via e-mail blasts and solicit volunteers. We will also post them in GS Online's MLS Forum.

  4. Continue to strengthen our communication with our members. As you know, we have started our monthly e-mail newsletter. This will continue.

    We also hope to bring you other information and educational opportunities to help you become better at your profession. We will also be available to personally answer any questions or concern that you, as a member, have.

"There have been several suggestions for NAOPP that are not feasible at this time and a few that we will most likely never adopt:

  1. Placing speaker videos online has been looked into. It is not feasible at this time because of the cost of hosting and maintaining such a library. We will continue to monitor this situation as technology develops and our association grows.
  2. Not now, or ever, will NAOPP be an arbiter of disputes between MLSs and ISOs. We hope as our numbers continue to grow, we will be a valuable source of information and representation for the MLS in various aspects of the industry.
  3. NAOPP is beholden to no sponsor or board member for business. We offer a vehicle for sponsors to disperse their message in return for funds that help us advance the goals of the association. The suggestion that NAOPP has received hundreds of thousands of dollars is absolutely ludicrous.
  4. We will always welcome constructive suggestions and/or criticisms, [but] destructive comments, obscene e-mails to our Executive Director, calls for a new organization (or labor union), or making bold-faced lies about your relationship to the association serve only to distract and divert time that could be better spent working toward association goals.

"There is an obvious advantage to the 'strength in numbers' theory. We are moderately sized, getting bigger and hope to continue our new momentum. Those of you who have been around the industry long enough remember a little group of ISOs that formed an organization called [the Bankcard Services Association] BSA. That group survived its initial start-up bumps and has grown to be a respected association now known as the ETA.

"While we have no illusions about our place in the industry, we do hope to accomplish our goal as being the preeminent organization for the MLS. You have a dedicated board of directors who are ready to take the organization to another level. We hope you'll join us in moving the dream forward both with your hard earned funds and valuable time. If any member or prospective member would like to contact me regarding your thoughts or suggestions, please e-mail me at with your information, and I promise to get back to you promptly."

Article published in issue number 060201

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2006, The Green Sheet, Inc.