Merchants have begun to realize the criticality of payments to their businesses and have now become actively engaged in efforts to pursue merchant interests in the payments ecosystem. The MAG members represent the country’s most knowledgeable and well-informed merchant payments experts who actively discuss, debate and advocate these interests with other payment ecosystem stakeholders.

The MAG vigorously pursues merchant objectives regarding payment issues of importance. Foremost among these issues are improving the customer payment experience, lowering the high cost of payment acceptance, reducing payment fraud, ensuring a fair and competitive payments landscape for in-person and digital payments, educating stakeholders on the need for open standards and pressing for meaningful representation in decision-making payments forums. The MAG seeks out opportunities to represent its members at payment industry events and in the trade press. We also actively collaborate with other merchant trade associations, acting as a resource for subject matter expertise on payments matters. 

Legislative & Regulatory:
The Merchant Advisory Group’s top legislative priority is to ensure debit reforms, also known as the Durbin Amendment, remain intact and successfully advocated to have a provision repealing the Durbin Amendment removed from HR 10, The Financial Choice Act before the bill was considered on the House Floor. The Durbin Amendment requires debit fees to be reasonable and proportional, promotes routing competition and merchant choice, and offers protections for merchants from excessive card network fines for any business who offers a debit discount. The MAG is also a strong advocate for legislation promoting the adoption of an open and equitable standards process for payments.

The MAG works closely with federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve Board, and others to promote a fair and equitable payment system that best serves the needs of U.S. consumers and to ensure merchant choice in payment services is not infringed upon by any stakeholder in the payments chain. Recently, the MAG has been engaged with several agencies responsible for ensuring Regulation II merchant routing rights and choice are not limited in the marketplace.

Market Changes:
The MAG also advocates directly on behalf of the MAG membership with payment card network brands and merchant acquirers to promote a more efficient, more secure, open, equitable, and transparent payment system environment that meets the needs of our joint customer. This effort is led by the MAG Operations Committee.

Involvement With Other Organizations:
The MAG recently joined the Accredited X9 Standards Committee, which is the leading US organization charged with creating technical standards for financial services. X9 is an open and accredited standards process whereby all stakeholders can provide feedback to technical standards, and most importantly, all members have equal and direct voting rights. The MAG is most active with the X9AB Payments Subcommittee, which covers retail and corporate payments, and the X9F Data Security and Information Subcommittee, which recently completed an end-to-end encryption standard, and is actively working on tokenization standards. Direct member participation in these technical workgroups is critical. Please contact Mark Horwedel if you would like to volunteer.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which the MAG joined in 2015, is an international community committed to open standards for the web, including website and e-commerce payments. Similar to the ANSI X.9 group, W3C is committed to the principles of open standards creation and adoption, including cooperation, due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance, openness, collective empowerment, availability, and voluntary adoption. The MAG represents some of the largest e-commerce merchants in the United States, as well as an increasing number of traditional card-present merchant businesses who are beginning to conduct more business in online and mobile channels. W3C has a work group dedicated to web payments.

Secure Remote Payments Council (SRPC) - The MAG CEO, Mark Horwedel, serves on the Board of Directors of the SRPC. The SRPC Board consists primarily of representatives from the major U.S. debit networks, as well as the acquiring community. The SRPC is focused on ensuring competitive debit solutions in the United States, including the development and market adoption of secure debit-based e-commerce and mobile payments. The SRPC goal of an open, interoperable, and competitive debit landscape for the future of debit payments in the United States is in line with the MAG’s values of competition and transparency.