The MAG Quarterly: Volume One, Issue Three
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Mark Horwedel

Letter from the CEO

by Mark Horwedel

As seen in American Banker

As we approach the MAG’s 5th Annual Conference October 7-9th in New Orleans, payments issues are dominating the news, especially the recent Washington District Court’s ruling against the Fed’s interpretation of the Durbin amendment. As a veteran of the formative years of debit, I’d like to offer my perspective. Read More


Board Member Corner


Federal Reserve’s Regulation II Thrown Out by Federal Judge

by John Drechny

As many of you are aware, in 2012 several merchants and merchant trade associations filed a lawsuit challenging the Federal Reserve’s implementation of Regulation II, pursuant to the Durbin Amendment. In the litigation the merchants and associations alleged that the Federal Reserve, in establishing its debit card interchange fee standards, included costs prohibited by the statute and that the Federal Reserve failed to provide merchants with adequate routing options.

On July 31 of this year the District of Columbia District Court issued a scathing opinion, finding for the plaintiffs on both counts. In the opinion, the court stated that the Federal Reserve “clearly disregarded Congress’s statutory intent by inappropriately inflating all debit card transaction fees by billions of dollar and failing to provide merchants with multiple unaffiliated networks for each debit card transaction.” The court went on to state that the Federal Reserve’s regulations were “utterly indefensible”. As a result, he has ordered the Federal Reserve to rewrite Regulation II to better comport with the statutory intent of Congress. Read More



The MAG is celebrating 5 years with the 2013 Annual Conference taking place October 7-9, 2013 at the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans, LA. The annual conference will bring merchants and sponsors together for education, networking and best practice sharing. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Registration is now open

EMV Update
September 11, 2013

Register Today

Your Project Plan for Selecting a New Processor (THE RFP Primer)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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MAG Launches New Website for an Evolving Payments World

By D.J. Murphy, Editor-in-Chief,

Nearly a year ago, the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG) board conducted the first strategic planning exercise in its five-year existence. The organization had been formed to share information, expertise and knowledge among retailers trying to understand the evolving world of payments, and the MAG’s leadership determined during the exercise it could be executing that vision more effectively, according to CEO Mark Horwedel.

“We were concerned about the fact we’re engaging with the membership, as a whole, only twice a year at the conferences,” Horwedel says. “In between all this time goes by. Certainly the board was engaged, but the membership, by and large, was not. What could we do about this?”

What they did was map out an entire communications strategy aimed at leveraging technology to expand the interaction between the leadership and the membership from semiannually to daily. The resulting course of action includes monthly Webinars, quarterly newsletters, a formal education program for members and, most notably, a complete overhaul of the MAG’s Website.

While a Website had existed for the entire length of the MAG’s existence, over five years it had become “dated,” according to Amy Sellheim, executive director of the MAG. To direct the overhaul, the board named three of its members to a Website committee who were instrumental in the initial discussions that outlined the MAG’s requirements, in the interviews to evaluate vendors to handle the redesign and with testing various versions of the proposed site.

In addition to a completely new and updated look, the redesigned site boasts several features that will ensure better communication between the MAG leadership and its members. Once the process began, it took the committee about six months to get to the point where they were happy with the result.

“Over the years, the MAG has grown quite a bit,” says Patterson. “Its membership has grown, its influence has grown, it’s becoming a voice for merchants in the payments arena. We wanted the Website to reflect where we saw the MAG going and what it is starting to represent to the merchants and members.”

To that end, members exploring the new site will see several readily apparent changes. Foremost among them is a section devoted to payments industry news stories.

“The industry is constantly changing and it’s changing on a dime,” says Sellheim. “It’s crucial for our members to stay updated. We’re going to have a section on the homepage called Payments News incorporating various news articles, with up to the minute information for our membership. Just that addition is a huge improvement over our current site.”

Other changes noticeable to users—and that will make the site more user friendly—include easier navigation, a prominent area for sponsor logos and a new section for upcoming MAG events that not only informs members of the what-where-and-when, but also keeps track of a particular member’s participation at past events. The new event calendar also can automatically add the event to the member’s calendar when they register.

Several enhancements, however, will not be visible to users. Content can be added and removed from the site using a Web-based content management system that will make the site much more flexible and dynamic than the previous version. Change is constant, as Sellheim noted, so the ability for the site to change over time is crucial. Patterson agrees, pointing out that while design concepts and user features were important considerations, the work that MAG members can’t see will make the most difference in the long run.

“Probably the most important thing we changed is the whole underlying architecture of the Website,” he says. “It gives us a lot more flexibility for growth in the future.”

Look for the new website later this month.


We greatly appreciate our annual sponsors! The MAG works hard to make sure that all sponsors receive the benefits they deserve, including this newsletter. The MAG Quarterly Newsletter is intended to keep all sponsors up-to-date on current happenings, industry news and upcoming events. Another benefit that we provide to all annual sponsors is the opportunity to publish articles and whitepapers on the MAG newsletter and website. If you are interested in taking advantage of this benefit please note that articles need to be informative and newsworthy for merchants, as these are not intended to be marketing pieces. The MAG newsletter is published each March, June, September and December. Please contact the MAG if you are interested in taking advantage of this sponsorship opportunity.

More News From Around the Industry
Fed's Debit-Card Swipe-Fee Rules Rejected by U.S. Judge
ico Source: PaymentsSource

The Consumer’s Perspective on eCommerce Fraud

ico View it here

MAG Member Perspective

Phillips 66

by Greg Pellegrino

I walked into the back of a huge ballroom at the conference hotel in Orlando in June 2012. I was feeling uncomfortable - it was the annual Visa Conference and I was new to this industry. After working with fuel marketers for the previous twenty years and having to explain high credit card fees, I felt a bit like I was behind enemy lines. It was daunting to try to decide where I should sit down. There were a number of people from South America...I wasn’t sure if I should sit with them, they might not speak my language. There were a lot of bankers...I wasn’t sure if I should sit with them, they might not speak my language either. So, I grabbed the table in the far back corner, that way if I wanted to I could sneak out quickly. Read More


MAG Sponsor Spotlight


Jimmy Scarborough is SVP Payment Solutions for Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS). He is a 17 year veteran of the payment industry having served stints at GE Capital, Chase Merchant Services and WorldPay. His responsibilities at BAMS include sales support and developing payment solutions for merchants.

My association with the MAG started at its inception earlier in my career when I was working at Chase Merchant Services. Then, it was only a small gathering and we viewed it as more of a merchant user group. As my career evolved, I stayed active with the MAG as it matured into a separate, independent organization. The MAG, through its development, now represents the merchants’ voice in payments. Read More


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