Expanding the Merchants’ Voice

Expanding the Merchants’ Voice
John Drechny CEO Merchant Advisory Group
Jul 25, 2023

Have you ever wondered how decisions are made regarding payments? Or how you can have a voice in the implementation of payments? At the MAG, we are thinking about these things daily. After all, the MAG’s mission is ensuring merchants have a voice in the payments ecosystem.

So, how do we accomplish this on behalf of the 185 merchant members of the MAG? It starts with how the MAG strategy is designed. Our key pillars, including collaboration, education, innovation, and advocacy, are critical to helping us achieve this goal. For example, our Collaboration Committee co-leads meet on a regular basis with the global networks to discuss roadmaps for payments. Through these interactions, we develop the agendas for our Collaboration Committee which allows for direct interaction between the merchants and the global brands. As a result of these conversations, we have seen plans change to accommodate the merchants’ needs.

While we have been successful in amplifying the merchants’ voice through the work of our key pillars, I will share the additional ways we are expanding the merchants’ voice through our international efforts and integration into the specification bodies.

International Efforts

Internationally, the MAG has been active through our bi-monthly international merchants call. During these calls, we collaborate with merchant organizations around the world to discuss the state of payments. We have been encouraged through the actions of governmental bodies and system stakeholders in other countries to help make payments better for all parties. Some examples from our most recent discussions have been least cost routing in Australia and Unified Payments Interface, or UPI, in India. Both of these regulatory engagements have resulted in the more efficient movement of funds for purchases. If you are a merchant member and have an interest in joining these calls please reach out to Erica Forman

Another way we are expanding our voice internationally is the creation of an advisory group in the APAC region. This group consists of Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, Amazon, Google, Uber, and Wego. They hold local events in which they pull the merchant community together to talk about issues in their market. Approval rates, customer authentication requirements, and fraud are a few of the topics the group discusses. Last October, the group held their first regional summit which brought close to 100 payments stakeholders together.

This year’s event will be held on November 1-2, 2023, at the Westin Singapore. Our goal is to help the merchants in the region work collaboratively for change which will improve overall customer interaction. If you are interested or have someone in your organization who is responsible for payments in the APAC region, we would love to have them join us. You can click here to find out more about our upcoming event.

Finally, we are in the process of defining a strategy that will help the MAG’s international presence grow. As part of this process, we are planning our first U.K. merchant meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to identify the need for merchant representation and those individuals who are willing to help us build a presence. If you have someone in your organization you think would want to participate feel free to reach out to me.

Involvement with Standards Bodies

Besides expanding internationally, the MAG has also become more involved with the standards bodies which create the specifications related to payments. The MAG has been on the advisory board of EMVCo for a few years, and through this direct interaction we have been able to voice the merchants’ opinion on Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), 3DS, tokenization, tap-on-glass, and other topics. The results of these discussions have led to new business use cases for the tokenization and simplification of SRC.  This year, I attended the Board of Advisors meeting while Steve Cole, Director, Tech Engagement, attended the technical meeting. We both pushed for a more open usage of the new tap-on-glass technology which could lead to a use case in which merchants can implement this technology for scan-in-store situations.

Most recently we joined X9, the organization responsible for developing ANSI standards in the U.S., as a Category A—Board of Directors member. The group is working on items like moving SNAP from magnetic stripe to chip and the expansion of 8-digit BINs. It also has a work group related to the implementation of the ISO 20022 standard for card payments. Our membership in this body gives us the ability to represent the merchants' voice in these critical discussions.

If either of these standards bodies are of interest to you, please reach out to Steve Cole who can get you involved with our Tech Operations Committee. This group regularly hears about the work in these standards bodies and helps the MAG understand the merchants' concerns.


As you can see, the MAG has been busy expanding merchants’ influence in the payments ecosystem. While we still have a ways to go for merchants to have a level playing field both geographically and in the specification groups, we have made considerable progress. Thanks to all of you who have helped us in this work.
The Merchant Advisory Group

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