MAG Insights

Announcements from the MAG & Featured Articles

MAG Best Practices (MAG Quarterly- Volume Four, Issue Three)

By Dean Sheaffer, SVP – Financial Services / Chief Compliance Officer, Boscov's Department Stores 

September 1, 2016

In this article I would like to explore some more strategic best practices rather than best practices related to your day-to-day operations.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in all of the nuances of our payments practice that we lose sight of the bigger issues.  So the following is some food for thought – if you haven’t visited some of these topics in a while, you might want to take a deep breath and dive in!

  1. Processor / Acquirer relationship.  When is the last time you circulated a request for proposal for you Processor / Acquirer business?  What is the term (initial or renewal) for your existing Agreement?  What notification provisions are included if you did decide to make a change?  As we all know the payments ecosystem changes on what seems like a daily basis; when is the last time you read our Agreement?  Are there outdated provisions?  New provisions that should be included in an Addendum?  What about other synergies in your you have a Procurement card, T&E Card, or Accounts Payable virtual card program – How could these be leveraged in your discussions with new or existing partners?
  2. Notice of Change (“NOC”).  Do you have a formal process to review the periodic notices of change provided by the card associations and/or your Processor / Acquirer?  I just read the most recent NOC provided by my processor and am fairly certain there are weeks or months of work required by our IT staff in order to develop, test and implement a number of the changes.   In order to get these projects prioritized, I need to provide my business as much possible advance notice of any foreseeable change.
  3. Account Review.  Do you do periodic reviews of your account with your Acquirer / Processor?  If so ... great, but who sets the agenda?  Since your relationship is with your Acquirer not with the card brands directly, do you ask your Acquirer to advocate on your behalf with the card brands?  What are your major pain points and internal expenses?  How do you leverage the relationship with your Acquirer to influence the card brands and issuers?
  4. Get (more) Involved. are already involved since you are reading the fourth point in a MAG newsletter article J!  But you can get more involved in helping shape the future of the global payments system.  The MAG has a great committee structure and the committees are always looking for help.  Check out the MAG website and contact a committee chairperson to see how your talents can make the MAG even better.  Beyond the MAG, are you involved in your national or state trade associations?  If you are doing all of the above, be an evangelist and help to extend the MAG mission by personally recruiting and educating within your own network of payments professionals. 
  5. Stay Informed.  Staying informed may be your single greatest strategic advantage in the payments system and, at least for me, is the single biggest challenge.  There is so much information, mis-information and dis-information in play on so many topics how do you know what is legitimate, what is actionable and what is urgent? My best resource is all of you.  Together we can trade real-life experiences, share thoughts and solutions to common issues and opportunities.  The banks, card brands and Processors have done this for decades.  Through the MAG we have the perfect forum to finally create a level playing field.  If you have an issue or question, don’t wait for the next Annual Conference or Mid-Year  conference, pick up the phone and talk to one (or a bunch of) your fellow MAG members.  I love hearing from other MAG members and truly appreciate when a MAG member can help me understand an issue or makes themselves available to just bounce ideas around. 

Hopefully the above has got you all revved up about stuff you can, do it! Take a break from you day to day routine and call your Acquirer to schedule an account review on your terms, dust you’re your Agreements and NOCs and start envisioning where your business needs to be five years from now, call another MAG member, join a MAG committee – most importantly stay informed and involved.