Payments as a discipline is relatively new to most organizations, as it was once considered the realm of Finance or Treasury. In some cases, it’s an afterthought, with most decisions outsourced to a payments provider. However, to have this approach is to be burdened with higher cost, less control over approval rates and challenges around fraud and compliance. Merchants need clarity on how to be effective in accepting payments yet need independence from payments providers and networks whose goals may not be aligned. In addition, as a payments person you want to be able to push ideas on how to improve, map out new directions in what payments types to accept, and how to manage risk, but your internal audience may not be savvy or interested in taking your payments game to the next level. You need more knowledge and experience than you have available to you to accomplish your goals.
This is where a group like the MAG excels. They provide multiple opportunities where you can learn from other merchants, and they from you, at conferences as well as online events. Rarely do you run into a merchant that has tried everything available and know it all. We are all trying different things with different results, and even a merchant like Microsoft who has been optimizing for a decade has a great deal to learn from other merchants. The conversations we have with other merchants at the MAG have directly shaped how we approach new opportunities. Sometimes this can come from merchants that are in similar businesses, but it is not unusual for us to get insights from gas station chains, amusement parks, airlines, and others.
The MAG also has webinars and special presentations at the conference that are highly informative. The level of information and its relevancy is difficult to find outside of a group like the MAG. This, along with the conferences, are a must for a merchant that wants to reach a high level of capability. Merchants who engage with the MAG will be better informed as well as more influential not only with providers in the space but also the networks. The MAG does an excellent job in reaching out to the networks to understand how changes could influence merchants, and they also provide a unified front in representing merchants to the same networks. In addition, they also reach out to government agencies on merchant payments issues, something that individual merchants would have a difficult time doing.
Microsoft being part of the MAG is an easy choice; however, that choice becomes easier as more merchants join.