MAG 2018 Mid-Year Conference
Registration Now Open!

Join over 400 payments professionals to discuss the following topics: Payments Strategies, Digital Payments, Tokenization, Fraud and Emerging issues. Hear from the top retailers in the US along with industry experts including debit networks as well as those with organizational responsibilities that include payments and related matters. The MAG Mid-Year Conference brings together all key stakeholders in the payments ecosystem to discuss the most pressing issues in payments. We're looking forward to informal, lively discussions so come prepared with your thoughts and ideas.

MAG Year In Review
By John Drechny, MAG Board Chair & Senior Director of Payments Services, Walmart

We have made tremendous progress over the past year. Read the Full Article

The Fed's Democratic Approach to Payments is a Better Way
By Mark Horwedel, CEO, Merchant Advisory Group

Several months ago, the Federal Reserve launched two significant efforts to examine the state of U.S. payments relative to faster and secure payments. The two efforts were given the titles of Faster Payment Task Force and Secure Payment Task Force. Read the Full Article

Collaboration - Progress but Far from Perfection
By Laura Townsend, SVP, Operations, Merchant Advisory Group

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller
Is the payments industry taking an approach towards collaboration that will result in mutually beneficial outcomes? Historically, I would suggest the answer is 'no'. However, the past should not predict the future. Read the Full Article

MAG Announces New Staff Addition

The Merchant Advisory Group announces that Beth Provenzano is joining the organization as Vice President, Public Affairs. In this capacity, Provenzano will serve as the MAG's spokesperson; direct communications strategy and outreach to the media; and lead advocacy efforts.

Prior to joining the MAG, Provenzano lobbied on financial services, technology, and intellectual property issues, as well as managed advocacy engagement and political affairs in her role as Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs with the National Retail Federation.

Provenzano is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management.

Be Wary of Card Networks Killing Payments Innovation
By Doug Kantor, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP

“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.” - Steve Jobs
This is a key moment in the evolution of payments. New technology is on the verge of changing the landscape - unless dominant networks can kill it first. Read the Full Article

2017 Brings Record Growth for the MAG
By Kari Hartley, Director of Member Services, Merchant Advisory Group

The MAG has experienced a record breaking year with the on-boarding of many new members and sponsors. Read the Full Article

The MAG publishes many whitepapers and press releases in the MAG Insights section of the website homepage. Make sure to visit the website often to view these important announcements.

2017 Brings A Welcome Trend in Payments

MasterCard and Discover have both announced that effective April 2018, their respective operating rules will change to make cardholder signature at checkout entirely optional to merchants as of April 2018. This has been a positive trend in the payments industry which reflects the mutual interests of payment networks and the merchant community to improve the payment experience at the point of sale for our customers and focus its energy on better authentication methods leveraging modern and emerging technologies.

Signature authentication is proven to be less secure than other authentication methods available and introduces a level of unnecessary friction to the overall consumer experience. The MAG has been working with its network partners over the course of several years and more recently through its Operations Committee initiatives to eliminate the requirement of signature. These changes will also eliminate inefficient, ineffective, and costly processes for the retail merchant community.

As in-store and e/mCommerce experiences continue to converge, new and improved digital authentication methods are emerging which bring better security to the payments ecosystem. Elimination of signature will help pave the way for adoption of these methods.

The MAG sincerely appreciates the recognition by MasterCard and Discover that change was in order in taking the initiative to bring forward this important milestone in the evolution of payment card acceptance in the U.S.

We urge others to follow.

MAG Educational Webinars

Mark your calendars for December 13th when the MAG will present a MAG Webinar: Status & Strategy Fireside Chat with MAG Staff about the State of the Industry and 2018 Strategic Plans.

Join the MAG for a town hall meeting where MAG CEO, Mark Horwedel, MAG SVP, Operations, Laura Townsend, and MAG VP Public Affairs, Beth Provenzano, will discuss payments issues of the day and update you on current MAG activities. Bring your questions and be ready to become informed.

Register Today!

Why Merchants Across the Globe Must Unite to Effect Change
By Callum Godwin, VP of Research & Product Development, CMS Payments Intelligence

“Two heads are better than one. A problem shared is a problem halved. Many hands make light work.”
At present, the merchant community is simply not doing enough to engage with each other internationally and share best-practices. Payment struggles differ from region to region, but the mentality that we can accomplish far more together than we can alone could be perfectly applied to creating an internationally engaged merchant community. This collaboration and transparency would undoubtedly increase competition and expose inconsistencies that allow suppliers to overcharge and underperform. Read the Full Article

The MAG 2017-2018 Board of Directors Election took place in August with the results announced during the Merchant Only Session at the 2017 Annual Conference in September. The voting resulted the following re-elected candidates: Troy Carrothers (Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.), Kristy Cook (Target Stores); John Drechny (Walmart), Kathy Hanna (The Kroger Co.), John Manna (Lowe's Companies, Inc.) and newly elected member Gina Powers (Dunkin' Brands, Inc.). We welcome Gina to the board and thank those that were re-elected for your continued leadership and dedication to the MAG.

Time to Renew Your MAG 2018 Membership Dues!

It continues to be an active time in the payments industry and we want you to continue to stay informed of industry happenings. There are many valuable benefits you receive as a MAG member. Earlier this week, each primary merchant member received an email containing the MAG 2018 membership dues renewal along with the 2017 Annual Report outling the various MAG happenings over the past year. Thanks for your continued support of the MAG.


Visa Claims Resolution

Visa recently announced the Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) initiative which is an effort to enable more efficient dispute processing. In response to client feedback and to help ensure the readiness of stakeholders around the world, the original implementation date of October 2017 was delayed to coincide with the April 2018 Visa Net Business Enhancement release. MAG will be working towards hosting a future webinar in early 2018 to provide an opportunity for Visa to share more details of VCR to our merchant members. Learn more about dispute basics on Read the Full Article

PayThink Dumping Cash Won't Work for Every Merchant, or all Consumers
By Laura Townsend, SVP, Operations, Merchant Advisory Group

While some merchants are testing no-cash payment models, the idea won't be universal. There are some consumers who don't have access to credit or even financial services for a variety of reasons. Read the Full Article

The Key to the Future of Grocery is Learning From its Past
By Maureen Elworthy, Executive Director, Merchant Services and Shaun J. Abraham, Vice President, Merchant Services

Best practices for Grocers to harness commerce and technology to drive profit and deliver superb customer experiences.

The proliferation of digital technology in today's marketplace presents Grocers with an opportunity to reimagine how to engage customers through online and mobile channels in secure, scalable, and insightful ways. Industry best practices from the past serve as key learnings for Grocers in developing a path to the future. Read the Full Article

The MAG 2017 Annual Conference Continues to Grow and Break Records!

The 2017 MAG Annual Conference continues to grow and drew record attendance with 500 attendees and over 200 merchant attendees representing MAG members and guest merchants. As an added benefit to MAG members we are providing a conference summary for your internal use. The MAG produces the conference summary to provide insight to what MAG members are talking about, what they are advocating for and what information you will be able to bring back to your organization.

Other conference related materials:
*Member login is required for the first three items listed below

Documents have been posted to the Members only area of the MAG website. You must log in to view. Please contact the MAG staff if you need assistance with your login.

The MAG is On The Road
MAG CEO, Mark Horwedel and Laura Townsend, SVP of Operations, have been representing the MAG at many industry events over the last several months. Some future events on the horizon include:
  • Mark Horwedel
    • June 4-6, 2018: Money 20/20; Europe
  • Laura Townsend
    • March 26-29, 2018: US Payments Forum; Chicago, IL
    • July 18-19, 2018: Wells Fargo Retail Summit 2018; Chicago, IL

Whitepages Pro

Whitepages Pro is an international identity data company. We provide businesses with global identity verification solutions via enterprise-scale APIs and web tools to help companies identify legitimate customers, prevent fraudulent transactions, and smooth new customer creation. Our real-time data integrates into existing platforms, authentication workflows, and data models to help your business confidently assess and verify consumer identities worldwide.

GOLD Sponsor
Freedom Pay

The FreedomPay Commerce Platform is the best way for merchants to simplify complex payment environments. Validated by the PCI Security Standards Council for Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) along with EMV, NFC and DCC capabilities, global leaders in retail, hospitality, gaming, education, healthcare and financial services trust FreedomPay to deliver unmatched security and advanced value added services. With broad integrations across top point-of-sale, device manufacturers and payment processors, supported by rapid API adoption, FreedomPay is driving the future of commerce and customer interaction. The FreedomPay Commerce Platform operates on the Windows Platform and is fully supported by the security and scalability of the Microsoft Azure cloud.

SILVER Sponsor

Index, based in San Francisco, is a leading retail software company that helps retailers transform their in-store payments and build their customer contact database. Index provides a semi-integrated payment solution and hosted gateway for 1-Second EMV, point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and remote device management. Its unique point-of-sale (POS) integration enables retailers to build an account for every shopper, capture customer contact data, drive opt-in to deliver personalized marketing, and optimize every campaign.

View a complete listing of MAG Sponsors

Sponsor Press Releases

Questions or comments? Contact the MAG at

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