Most consumers don’t think about payment processing. They choose what they want to buy, place it in a physical or virtual cart, pay with a credit or debit card, and go on their way. Unless there is a problem –like a credit card denial at the register or a double charge later discovered on a bill– they’re blissfully unaware of everything that goes on after the merchant collects their payment data.
The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), on the other hand, is very aware of the players involved in taking that data and processing the actual payment. As the leading trade association for the payments industry, looking out for those companies is the ETA’s sole purpose. RewardExpert recently spoke with Interim CEO Amy Zirkle to find out more.
Representing the Payments Industry
The ETA began in 1990 as the Bankcard Services Association. It has since grown from 20 individual members to nearly 500 member companies in 30 countries.
“Our members come from the acquiring segment of the payments industry,” Zirkle explained. “Basically, the players beyond –in the back end– after a merchant accepts a payment.”
ETA members include Bank of America Merchant Services and Wells Fargo Merchant Services “as well as financial organizations such as Capital One and J.P. Morgan Chase, smaller banks, payment processors and big organizations like First Data,” Zirkle continued. “We proudly represent a huge cross-section of the payments technology industry.”
Zirkle said that tech companies like Apple and Google have joined the ETA as well. “They are recognizing the payments industry as a driver of commerce and see where the industry is going,” she added. “The common thing between all our members is that they all have an interest in enabling the growth of commerce and in serving merchant communities and consumers.”
As a trade association, Zirkle said the ETA is focused on creating a community and enhancing networking and business development opportunities as well as providing educational resources for member companies.
“It’s also about creating a voice,” she added. “Our presence is felt as an advocate both in a government relations and traditional government affairs type role before federal and state legislators and regulators. We have an international presence and have done a lot of work in Canada as well.”
Enhancing Business Development Opportunities
Companies that join the ETA have the opportunity to connect with thousands of other payments professionals –including industry thought leaders, future partners and customers– at ETA signature events throughout the year. They also enjoy exclusive access to professional development programs –including the ETA Certified Payments Professional program– as well as ETA University, corporate in-house training and webinars.
“At the end of the day, our huge value proposition is that we’re a hub, a community, and a focal point for people to come together to meet, to expand their networks, to do business, to advance business deals, and to gain insight and understanding of what’s going on in the industry,” Zirkle said.
One such networking and learning opportunity
“It’s probably the best three days our members will ever spend in terms of the networking, meetings and conference sessions,” Zirkle said. “This year’s theme is ‘from Start to FinTech’ and will focus on the foundational elements of the payments industry as well as seizing upon innovation in the space.”
Zirkle said conference tracks will include presentations on issues surrounding risk, fraud and security as well as integrated payments, payment facilitation and new technology.
“We’ll be looking at some of the foundational elements of underwriting as well as what the e-commerce space is about and new challenges in terms of developing robust risk management and fraud reduction tools,” Zirkle explained. “We’ll also be examining the need to leverage new technologies to better protect consumers, like new steps in identity and authentication, and even moving beyond into bigger picture issues of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the evolution of fraud prevention.”
Payments Industry Predictions
As interim CEO of the ETA, Zirkle has a bird’s eye view of the payments industry including its current trends and future possibilities. We asked her to share a few predictions.
- Mobile payments will increase in popularity. “Mobile devices aren’t just tools for commerce but also for financial inclusion,” Zirkle said. “Mobile payments are encrypted and authenticated, they’re more secure even than using a credit card, and I think we’ll continue to see them grow.”
- Innovative contactless solutions will increase. “With a contactless card, you can just tap it on a payment terminal and go,” Zirkle explained. “There’s ease, speed and the reduction of friction. It’s a safe, secure, seamless and sophisticated way to pay. We’re going to see innovation harnessing this new way to pay and the payments industry really stands ready to bring all of that to market for merchants and consumers.”