Payments…“Life in the Fast Lane”

Payments…“Life in the Fast Lane”
Kathy Hanna Vice President, Payments Acceptance & Services The Kroger Co.
Dec 20, 2022

As we approach the end of another year, the speed of change in the payments industry is not slowing down.  Many areas of change are accelerating to address issues in the continuing growth of digital payments. BNPL, CNP routing, tokenization, and autofill tokens were just a few of the hot topics that merchants had to expand their knowledge on. The good news for MAG members is MAG was right there delving into all of them on behalf of the 188 U.S. merchant members. 

In this fast lane of digital payments, members were able to continue their payments learning through eLearning Courses, where five new 200-level courses were introduced. It’s exciting to see that over 1,000 members have registered for the courses, with almost 500 graduates. The range of the number of participants from a company was from one to over a hundred. The eLearning Courses have been a great way for members to bring others within their organization into the payments industry, building a more collaborative view within those organizations. 

The Annual Conference was another connection event available to MAG members where the record of attendance was broken, with over 1,100 members and sponsors in attendance. The Tech Forum, which occurred the same week, expanded into two full days of content with 28 sessions. Tech and business are so closely tied together in payments, and collaboration between the two is critical. MAG also treated members to 17 webinars and introduced the MAG Studio and Person on the Street interviews. Members had several networking events along with introducing the Rising Payments Professionals Program. If you would like to learn more about getting involved with the Rising Payments Professionals, please contact Jennifer Mammele.

Even during the summer, the speed of collaboration didn’t slow down. MAG held 25 merchant-only Special Interest Group (SIG) networking sessions where over 1,000 members met via Zoom to talk about the payments issues affecting their industry. Members consistently report the SIGs are one of the top reasons for being a member of the MAG. BNPL was a hot topic last year and kept its heat this year.  When Mastercard announced mandatory participation in their BNPL program, MAG led the conversation for change resulting in modifications to the product and the rollout. Next, friendly fraud has been an issue for merchants for many years and has grown with the increase of eCommerce purchases. MAG collaborated with Visa on data sharing to make changes allowing merchants to provide compelling evidence for friendly fraud chargebacks that shifted the liability back to the issuer. 

MAG’s leadership continues to speak out publicly on merchant payments issues at industry conferences and in news reports. Also, communicating the merchants’ message to government and regulatory officials about payments issues is an area where MAG shined this past year.   MAG organized a collaborative effort among merchants and trade associations to discuss payments policy on a recurring basis and submitted multiple papers, data, and other data points to support the merchants’ position on payment issues. The Durbin Amendment was passed over ten years ago but has been challenged. MAG has organized multiple meetings with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to understand the impact of the lack of debit routing choices for CNP transactions.  In September, the Federal Reserve Board released their clarification for routing on ALL debit transactions, providing benefits to merchants’ options. The last big breakthrough in advocacy was the introduction of the Credit Card Competition Act from bipartisan, bicameral legislators. 

As 2022 ends, there were some speeding tickets issued during the year to slow down some of the changes and ensure laws were followed. But it doesn’t appear there will be any reduction in speed for the changes to the payment industry in 2023. The members can count on the MAG. MAG will be there providing education, communication, collaboration, advocacy, and leadership on behalf of the merchants to any of the speedsters in the payments industry. Keep your seatbelt on! 

On behalf of the MAG Board, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday. Happy New Year! 

The Merchant Advisory Group

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