Growing the Merchant’s Voice Globally

Growing the Merchant’s Voice Globally
John Drechny Chief Executive Officer Merchant Advisory Group
Mar 18, 2024

Over the last several years, the MAG has expanded the merchant's voice in the industry through many avenues. In 2019, we added the Tech Forum to include professionals who are responsible for the programming of payments to join our discussions. In 2020, we started engaging with merchants in the APAC area to help understand their needs for a voice in the payment system. In 2021, we launched our Merchant Payments 101, followed by our 200 level courses as well as a  Technical course. In 2022, we held our first international summit in Singapore.

The time has now come to expand our voice with an international perspective. In 2023, we hired Paul Tunstall as the VP of International. Through Paul's initial efforts we doubled the size of our APAC engagement and hired Ivy Lee, Director of APAC to help continue to develop our efforts beyond Singapore. We have also been building our merchant community in Europe, with a new Advisory Board being launched in March and our first summit scheduled in London for June 10 – 12th. If you have interest in attending this summit please click on this link and register. We are also hiring more team members in Europe to help expand our presence.

 As we expand internationally, I am often asked why? To answer this question, I think it is important to remind ourselves of the mission of the MAG, “Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchant’s interests through collaboration, education and advocacy.” While we have been effective at reaching this goal through our U.S. base efforts, it is becoming clear that to drive positive change in a global market in payments, we need to have a global viewpoint.

 Innovation in payments is coming from all corners of the world. For instance, mobile usage is much further ahead in the APAC area. If we want to affect how payment standards get set we need to be involved in the markets where it is happening. Similar to the introduction of chip technology, once the payments get embedded in the ecosystem it is hard to change it. Another example is the development of real time payment systems. For example, in India and Brazil, real time payments have replaced the traditional debit rails. Both of these markets now have a low cost, easily implementable real time payment. Meanwhile in the U.S. we struggle to get real time payment alternatives to work for the consumer to the business. There is much we can learn from our international counterparts.

 It is not just innovation that is happening across the globe, regulators around the world are getting more involved in payments. Some of these changes end up catching on with other regulators and we think it is important merchants have a voice in these outcomes. As a U.S. based only organization it is much harder to both understand the dynamics driving change but also getting an audience with the local regulator. We have seen this when items like two factor authentication have been implemented in certain markets which in some cases has led to a friction filled customer experiences.

 I recently had an opportunity to meet with several regulators in the Australian market. Through these discussions I was able to learn about challenges with routing mobile transactions and discuss ways this could be solved. This is a great example of how influencing this process from the beginning can have positive outcomes for merchants around the world. Once the large mobile wallet providers are required to build the process in Australia, they will not want to maintain separate standards in different locales. So helping to establish a process all merchants could support becomes critically important.

 Also, if you look at the MAG’s merchant and sponsor base, close to 50% already have an international presence. Our goal is to help support these merchants and sponsors by helping provide education on trends happening in the international markets. We also want to create the same kind of networking experience which have enriched the conversations around payments in the U.S. This can only happen by having people in the country participating in the MAG.

In order for our expansion to work we need your help. If you have an international presence in Europe, please share this link with them so they are aware of our efforts. If you are a sponsor and you want to be part of our expansion, please reach out to for more information or click on this link to learn more about sponsorships.

 Together we can make sure payments work better across the globe, just like we have in the U.S..

The Merchant Advisory Group

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