Community Contributions Towards Positive Change

Community Contributions Towards Positive Change
Laura Townsend Chief Operating Officer Merchant Advisory Group
Dec 10, 2020

On a professional level, MAG has seen a significant amount of engagement this year despite all the circumstances many of our members have experienced challenging their personal and professional lives.  The number of active members who participate in Committees and Communities of Practice (COPs or Communities) while also supporting the basic needs of both family at home and work focused on keeping operations running and key stakeholders safe (family, customers, employees, and self) has been impressive.

That continued engagement certainly kept MAG priorities moving forward in a year full of change and uncertainly and we thank all our members and sponsors for that. I will share a few highlights of MAG’s community efforts which are still active, as well as those that have emerged, paused, and retired.  This will give you a glimpse of the sheer volume of activity that has had such significant influence on MAG’s progress this year.

Active Communities

The EMVCo COP continued to offer merchant insights into EMVCo specifications being considered such as payments using wireless technology as well as specifications moving to a future generation such as a single contactless kernel and Secure Remote Commerce (SRC).

A new Community that began this year was the Downgrades COP focused on increased transparency from networks on qualification criteria and guidance from acquirers on leveraging more meaningful data to assist merchants in reducing downgrades and integrity fees.  Soon we hope to unveil a Best Practice Guide to share learnings with the broader MAG membership. 

Emerging Communities

A few communities that have emerged - in light of the environment 2020 has gifted us - include installment payments, call center best practices and omni-channel. 

The Installment Payments COP is focused on evaluating the industry and identifying primary installment providers, the various models, and capabilities.  The market penetration of installment solutions - otherwise known as “buy now, pay later” alternatives - has increased significantly on a global basis. According to Forrester Research, more than one-quarter of retailers offer installment payments with more than 40 percent of online consumers aware that installment payments exist to purchase goods. Merchants need to understand the options and implications of supporting this type of alternative payment as part of an overall payments strategy.  This community has been stood up to help educate and inform the MAG membership as a starting point.

The Call Center Best Practices COP came about in light of merchants needing to support customer call centers remotely as a result of companies respecting employee safety and social distancing mandates across the country. In light of these changes, managing payments security and compliance has become an area of focus to ensure there are appropriate practices and awareness of technologies in market that may facilitate those best practices. 

The Omni-channel Community is focused on collaboration among merchants, payment networks, and acquirers to enable relevant and current commerce practices with supporting rules and relevant, modern, and effective tools.  Just think of all the ways consumers shop and the massive convergence of physical and digital in light of 2020 events that makes the focus of this COP so important for the long-term.  Cross-channel commerce today is not supported by modern rules and processes to enable the best customer experience and most efficient merchant operations. 

Paused Communities

One of MAG’s ongoing priorities will be merchant debit routing rights.  In 2020, the Debit Routing COP accomplished a significant amount of education and awareness among all stakeholders including merchants, acquirers, issuers, and regulatory agencies.  Here is a quick hit of all the accomplishments to date. 

  • Several PIN-less and Contactless webinars with focus on debit routing
  • An Education Session at MAG’s 2020 Mid-Year Conference on debit routing
  • A Best Practice Guide on debit routing
  • An Infographic on contactless and debit routing considerations
  • A panel session on PIN-less at MAG’s 2020 Virtual Annual Conference
  • Media, Hill and Regulatory meetings during 2020

We are taking a pause for now and plan to re-convene to see if our efforts warrant continuing as a community through 2021 and, if so, in what capacity.

Another major focus in 2020 was the EMV migration for the petroleum merchant community in light of the liability shift that was originally targeted for October 2020.  As many of you know, with MAG’s influence (alongside our trade partner NACS with data supplied from our standards partner, Conexxus), networks delayed the October 2020 liability shift until April 2021.  In light of that delay, the Petro COP decided to take a pause to allow fuel merchants to focus on EMV migration in order to meet the deadline.  In our closing efforts for 2020, MAG developed an infographic on the Road to EMV to emphasize the importance of migrating sooner versus later and the considerations along the way.  This Community will re-convene in the new year as the final efforts on migration occur.

Retired Communities

Finally, it is important to call out the COPs that retired this year once their objectives were complete.  The COVID-19 COP developed Best Practices for merchants as they attempt to solve for challenges in operating their brick-and-mortar businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The 8-Digit BINs COP developed a checklist to help merchants identify the impact to their respective payment systems due to the 8-digit BIN expansion in 2022. The Card on File COP developed best practices with input from networks and acquirers regarding merchant requirements for card on file processes. The Cryptocurrency COP provided educational material on existing and emerging companies, processes and methods relevant to the use of blockchain technology in payments-related activities.

As you can see there was a significant amount of activity and accomplishments achieved through these communities this year with your active participation and input.  We hope to continue the influence these communities have in the future. 

So, how do you get involved?

If you would like to join an existing community, or if you are interested in starting a new Community of Practice, click on the image below to access the MAG’s NEW COP landing page and learn more about how you can get involved today!

The following are required to form a new COP:

  • The issue has defined objective(s) that when achieved will signify the end of the COP.
  • Issue/opportunity impacts several merchants or is a relatively common problem shared by others.  
  • You are a merchant who is willing to help lead the effort and get others engaged.

MAG will resource administrative coordination required to get a Community kicked off.  We understand the need for the

collective merchant voice which is much louder and more influential and effective than a single merchant alone. Come join the effort.

Contact the MAG today!

The Merchant Advisory Group

Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchants interest through collaboration, education, and advocacy.