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Issue 06:09:01
News

Industry Update

Litle & Co., UBC capture Inc. 500 top spots

Rediscovering the JCB card

OCC to banks: Be upfront about gift card fees, terms

Hotspots becoming merchant-friendly?

Features

AgenTalkSM: Debra A. Aragon
Dreams that take wing

Security steals the ATMIA show out West

By Tracy Kitten and Valerie Killifer, ATMmarketplace.com

Views

Fraud matters to ISOs and MLSs

By Peter Kulik

Serving up the foodie POS

By Scott Henry

Are you Big Brother material? The FTC seems to think so

By Theodore F. Monroe

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Look before you lease: Tips for expanding businesses

By Michael Nardy

To part the chargeback waters, know thy reason codes

By David H. Press

KISS - Keep it simple, smarty

By Ken Boekhaus

Swat the swipe-rate squeeze with an ace acquirer

By Marcelo Paladini

Spotting hot prospects for cool check services

By J. David Siembieda

New Products

This 'playa' got game

Insurance policy covers ID theft liabilities

Company Profiles

Priority Payment Systems LLC

Inspiration

Letting your hair down in a businesslike way

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

Trade associations, affirmed and afire

Almost across the board, payments industry trade associations are experiencing a surge in membership, if applicable, and meeting attendance. The trend is being fueled by the industry's steady growth, increasing complexity and resultant need for continuing education. Regional association shows, in particular, are booming.

Trade associations offer such benefits as health insurance at group rates, discounted legal advice, retirement benefits, tradeshows, information about best practices, Web seminars and advocacy with regulators on issues vital to the industry.

But with so many professionals scattered geographically or working independently, the chance to meet and compare notes with peers may be the most valuable benefit. Trade publications like The Green Sheet provide ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) with helpful information. Online water coolers such as the GS Online MLS Forum give them a cyber spot in which to vent and exchange tips. But face-to-face time is rare.

"ETA membership brings many of the benefits that you might expect from an association," said Thomas Goldsmith, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Electronic Transactions Association. "But one of the key benefits is the opportunity ... to connect with one another and get to know one another in settings that are designed to facilitate networking and business development."

Sherry Friedrichsen, President of the Western States Acquirers' Association, agreed. "I don't think you can overrate the value of face to face contact with the people you are working with or thinking about working with," she said.

But filling the myriad needs of ISOs, MLSs and vendors is a challenge for these predominantly volunteer organizations. "The effort that goes into something like one of these shows is enormous," Friedrichsen said. "It's not just setting the agenda and finding the best speakers; it's finding the best venue for the best cost and juggling space and processing registrations and setting menus."

Even receiving nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service can be arduous. The application process is lengthy and detailed. Nevertheless, associations are flourishing. Following are a number of organizations - international, national and regional - that have passed muster and would likely welcome your participation.

ATM Industry Association (ATMIA)
Web site: www.atmia.com

Founded in 1997 as a nonprofit, nonstock corporation, ATMIA represents the international ATM industry - including manufacturers, ATM deployers, ISOs, private owners, financial institutions, and providers of related products and services. ATMIA works to establish international security best practices and issues news on regulations and fraud alerts.

Membership: ATMIA has 770 members in over 40 countries. Dues range from $300 to $2,200 per year.

Events: ATMIA hosts about eight events annually. ATMIA Conference East 2007 will be held Feb. 20 - 23, 2007, at the Caribe Royal Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Benefits: Best practices manuals for international security, the Global ATM Crime Information System (Cognito), Web-based fraud library and solutions, ATM fraud alerts, analysis of crime trends, legislative and regulatory monitoring of ATM and debit issues, discounts to ATMIA events, insurance and risk management services, etc.

Growth: Mike Lee, ATMIA's Chief Executive Officer, said the organization adds about 100 members yearly. "The industry itself is growing, especially in the off-premise ATM markets, and we are now providing benefits for the full spectrum of the ATM industry," he said. "So, we are growing across the board as well as across both mature and emerging markets."

Recent accomplishments: "We have introduced some automated online services such as our ATM risk management system for members," Lee said.

On the horizon: New automated services for members and committee work focused on customer education and security.


Electronic Transactions Association (ETA)
Web site: www.electran.org

The ETA was founded in 1990 by fewer than 20 industry professionals who wanted to develop a credible voice within the industry. It is now an international trade association for businesses offering transaction processing products and services.

Membership: The ETA has about 550 members in two broad classes - financial institutions and service providers - with subcategories in each class.

Events: The ETA holds its Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas each spring. In autumn, it hosts a Strategic Leadership & Networking Forum (SLNF) for industry executives. The upcoming Annual Expo will be at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, April 17 - 19, 2007.

At its events, the ETA also offers ETA University courses on topics like electronic processing, operations, sales and marketing, security, and technology.

Benefits: Web site with a members-only section containing a career center, committee reports, white papers and news.

Growth: This year's Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas set new records for both attendance and Expo exhibitors: 3,115 industry attendees (17% increase over 2005 and its largest participation ever) and 186 companies exhibiting (also a record).

"Over the past several years, [ETA] membership has been growing on average about 10% each year," Goldsmith said.

Recent accomplishments: "ETA has become more active in government relations, representing our members' interests," Goldsmith said. "We're also expanding our efforts to represent our members with regard to the card brands and other industry groups, and we're becoming more involved in educating our members about security issues, PCI compliance and similar topics."

At the sold-out Compliance Day preceding the ETA's 2006 Expo, representatives of the four major credit card brands discussed Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard compliance.

On the horizon: "ETA will be doing much more to provide information-based products for our members and the industry as a whole, including education offerings, expanded Web site offerings and publications," Goldsmith said.


National Association of Payment Professionals (NAOPP)
Web site: www.naopp.com

Founded in 2003, NAOPP is dedicated to independent professionals in the payment processing industry. "The National Association of Payment Professionals works to build a bridge to provide the merchant level salesperson a passage over the gap that exists between the MLS community and other segments of the payment processing industry," said Vicki M. Daughdrill, NAOPP's Executive Director.

Membership: The organization has approximately 300 members. Yearly dues range from $25 for an associate member to $1,000 for a vendor membership.

Events: NAOPP meets at regional acquirers' association meetings.

Benefits: Health insurance at group rates, health savings accounts, discounted legal counsel from industry experts, retirement investment plans, discounted registrations for industry events, etc.

Growth: "We experienced a 30% growth last year, and approximately a 10% growth to date during 2006," Daughdrill said.

Recent accomplishments: NAOPP was granted 501(c)(6) status by the IRS in March. "In addition, this year we conducted our first member survey and held our first educational teleseminar," Daughdrill said. "We also provided educational programming at the SEAA and will present at the WSAA."

On the horizon: "We had such a good response to our first teleseminar that we will continue to host educational teleseminars and webinars in future months," Daughdrill said.

NAOPP's recent survey showed that members are interested in such benefits as long- and short-term disability insurance, professional liability insurance, cell phone plans, rental car discounts, and marketing and sales training.


Women Networking in Electronic Transactions (W.net)
Web site: www.w-net.biz

W.net was founded in 2005 by payments veterans Holli Targan, Mary Gerdts, Linda Perry and Diane Vogt. The idea came from the need for a women's networking and mentoring organization in our industry.

Membership: Annual membership dues (which currently cover admittance to two W.net meetings a year) are $200 per calendar year. A first-year discount of $150 is being offered for 2006.

Events: Although not affiliated with the ETA, W.net holds its meetings around ETA events. At press time, it was about to have its fourth meeting. The theme: "Smart or sexy: Are you projecting the right image?"

Benefits: One membership benefit W.net touts is access to top women in the industry. It's a networking organization, after all. About 300 women attended the last meeting. Other benefits include awards-and-recognition and mentoring programs, a membership directory and a newsletter.

Growth: Right now W.net faces a challenge. The group is trying to raise money and recruit paying members so it can, in turn, provide those members with exemplary benefits. But membership and meeting attendance are growing. W.net's very first meeting had between only 50 and 75 attendees. Its most recent event had four times that number. In June 2006, W.net officially began its membership drive. It currently has 110 members.

Recent accomplishments: W.net already has much to show for its efforts. It has organized at least eight active committees, courted sponsors, developed a newsletter, created a Web site, begun a mentoring program and received nonprofit 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.

On the horizon: W.net is actively looking for members and sponsors. The group is also working on an online forum, speakers bureau and career center.


Midwest Acquirers' Association (MWAA)
Web site: www.midwestacquirers.com

The MWAA was founded in 2003 with the goal of educating the ISO and merchant service provider community regarding the industry's constantly changing information. It is a not-for-profit, nonmembership-based organization.

Events: The MWAA annual conference is held each July. The next conference will be July 24 - 27, 2007, at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel in Cleveland. In addition to the general session and vendor exhibit area, the conference includes the Field Guide for ISOs Seminar, which is devoted to the details of the ISO industry, and a bankcard job fair.

Growth: "The MWAA is growing and changing to meet the challenges of our industry," Dunn said. "At our first conference in 2003 we had 425 attendees, and in July of this year we had 550 attendees."

Recent accomplishments: In addition to hosting the first job fair associated with such an event, the MWAA has been working to make its show cost effective for all participants, particularly MLSs and independent agents.

"We are considering several options to encourage MLSs and independent salespeople," Dunn said. "There is considerable value in attending, but sometimes the people who need it most are those who can least afford it. We're addressing that."

On the horizon: The MWAA conducted a survey of attendees at its last conference and is making changes to reflect their suggestions. "We will be limiting the number of vendors next year to about 80 since that was widely suggested," Dunn said. "We are studying new ideas for bringing in even more 'feet on the street' to our show. ... As always, our challenge is to deliver more value ... for the dollars and hours invested."


Northeast Acquirers' Association (NEAA)
Web site: www.northeastacquirers.com

The NEAA, formerly known as Northeast Bankcard, was the first regional acquirers' association and the one after which subsequent regional groups have modeled themselves. The NEAA has been hosting events for more than 20 years. These include educational opportunities and outings such as golf tournaments, skiing and snowmobiling ventures, and charity poker tournaments. The NEAA is a not-for-profit and nonmembership-based organization. It serves as an educational forum for financial institutions, ISOs, merchant service providers and MLSs.

Events: The NEAA holds a seminar in the winter and a seminar and golf tournament in the summer each year. The next event will be Jan. 30 - Feb. 1, 2007, at the Grand Summit Hotel in Mount Snow, Vt. Attendees can expect educational speakers, forums, a vendor tradeshow, giveaways and entertainment.

Growth and recent accomplishments: Recently, NEAA meetings have drawn between 400 and 500 people, nearly 10 times the number present at the association's first winter event. The NEAA's success has enabled it to offer free registration for nonvendor attendees who preregister.

On the horizon: The NEAA will continue to focus on providing forums in the most economical way so all can take part in the educational and networking opportunities.


Southeast Acquirers' Association (SEAA)
Web site: www.southeastacquirers.com

Founded in 2000 to provide the acquiring community a regional venue for training, education and networking, the SEAA is a not-for-profit, nonmembership, independent association for all acquiring bankcard professionals. John McCormick, an SEAA Executive Officer, said, "All MLSs and sales offices are welcome at the SEAA seminar. We have no dues, only the entrance fee to attend the seminar, which is usually $75."

Events: The SEAA holds an annual conference each spring. The 6th Annual Conference will be held March 19 - 21, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel in Jacksonville, Fla.

Growth: "Our seminars continue to grow in both MLS attendance and the number of vendors looking to participate," McCormick said. "We think this is a great sign that the MLSs and industry vendors are focused on working together to improve the total electronic payment experience for the merchant."

Recent accomplishments: "Our biggest change this year was our switch to the spring," McCormick said. "Traditionally, our show was scheduled for the fall, but we had several seminars interrupted by hurricanes, with our 2005 seminar in New Orleans being canceled due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina."

On the horizon: "Our goal is to keep the seminar fresh and provide education on the topics that are important to the MLSs and sales offices," McCormick said. "For that, we rely on input from our attendees. ... And we hope to be able to reschedule the seminar in New Orleans in the near future."


Western States Acquirers' Association (WSAA)
Web site: www.westernstatesacquirers.com

Founded in 2004, the WSAA is a nonprofit dedicated to keeping acquirers educated and informed on the industry's ever-changing needs. The WSAA is a "no-dues, no-membership" organization, Friedrichsen said. "Our meetings are funded through the exhibitors, sponsorships and a minimal fee for attendees."

Events: The WSAA's 3rd Annual Meeting will be held at the Wyndham Hotel in San Jose, Calif., Oct. 18 - 19, 2006. "Our meetings are extremely affordable for the ISOs and MLSs," Friedrichsen said. "Attendee registration is only $75, and this year we are including the Field Guide for ISOs Seminar in the registration fee. Our goal is education, education, education as well as allowing ample time for the attendees to meet with the exhibitors to get information on the new products and services available."

Growth: Friedrichsen said the organization is definitely growing, but because it isn't a membership organization, it's hard to measure. However, the WSAA did sell out the exhibit hall for this year's conference by mid August, and Friedrichsen is projecting close to 500 attendees.

Recent accomplishments: The WSAA has worked this year to hold costs down while focusing on the key issues ISOs and MLSs want to explore, such as interchange and free terminal programs.

On the horizon: "There will be some changes next year, of course," Friedrichsen said. "But we'll continue to focus on meeting the needs of ISOs and MLSs. Our priority is, and will be, keeping them educated and informed on the things that matter."

Article published in issue number 060901

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