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ETA: Where Technology and Payments Come Together

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Many people go about their day without thinking about how technology has really evolved when it comes to payments. Gone are the days of putting items back on the shelf if you forget your wallet. All you need is your smartphone and an app to pay for your merchandise.

According to their website, the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is the leading trade association for the payments industry. It represents over 500 companies worldwide in electronic processing services and products.

Vice President of Industry Affairs, Amy Zirkle, recently spoke to RewardExpert about the perks ETA provides for its members and how digital payments benefit both consumers and merchants.

What is ETA?

ETA is a non-profit trade association for the payments technology industry. It serves to continuously evolve and mold the payments industry by providing innovative solutions, educational networking opportunities and the friendly exchange of information.

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“We represent the acquiring piece in payments,” noted Zirkle. “So when you talk about payments, a lot of people discuss the 5-party model—the card network, the merchant, the merchant’s bank, the financial institution and the consumer—and we sort of sit with the merchant acquiring business.”

Their membership is vast and diversified and includes all of the major credit card brands, in addition to independent sales organizations (ISOs), payment networks, mobile payment products and services, financial institutions and more. “We are really unique in terms of the member organizations that are a part of ETA,” stated Zirkle.

Out of their 500+ member companies large and small, Zirkle said ETA is also creating a home for new, important players contributing to the industry. “Places such as independent software vendors and inventory management, for example—helping them with their customization of product delivery to payment facilitators that enable small merchants to accept payments.”

Education and Awareness

Taking care of its members is of the utmost importance to ETA. Zirkle said that the association offers a wide variety of events throughout the year that members can attend, in addition to other educational opportunities.

“We are the only entity that offers a professional credentialing program for the sales channel, and quite frankly, for the payments industry in general, and we’re seeking to redefine and build that new education content for all of those new players.”

She stated that ETA is also doing a lot to help payment startups to enable them to demonstrate the kind of rich utilization of technology they can incorporate into their businesses. “We are in totality the acquiring trade association, but breadth and scope is reflected in the member organizations and all the kinds of things we do,” added Zirkle.

Digital Payment Benefits

As technology continues to evolve, so does the payments industry. Zirkle explained that it’s more important than ever today to have an app on your phone that can speak to consumers’ needs, wants and desires.

“We do a lot of work around mobile payments. It’s all about the support of frictionless commerce—delivery in the most effective and elegant way, whether it’s through a mobile device or contactless card, we’re hoping to see more and more in the marketplace that shows ease of use, speed, security and reliability.”

Zirkle used herself as a primary example of utilizing a mobile device to pay. She said she had a full shopping cart with a long line behind her when she realized she had forgotten her wallet. With some quick thinking, she pulled out her phone and the cashier accepted the money via Apple Pay. “Everyone thought I made fire come out of my eyes,” Zirkle noted. She explained that people didn’t realize that they could do that.

“Every device has the potential to become a commerce delivery mechanism, and I think that is what’s so exciting. The future is limitless, and as the trade association of this industry, we stand at the center of that community of thinking of new ways to support and enable commerce.”

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