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What Role Should Merchants Play in Standards? (MAG Quarterly- Volume Seven, Issue Four)

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By Justin Fletcher, Director – Financial Services & Payments, Best Buy | Digital & Technology

December 5, 2019

Since I first entered the payment space almost two decades ago there has been constant cycles of evolution around payments.  The problem is those cycles continue to speed up every couple of years.  One of my first projects in payments was converting paper checks to electronic ACH payments for Dayton Hudson’s private label cards.  Now days we’re discussing things like Secure Remote Commerce, Online Fraud, EMV 3D Secure, Authentication, Biometrics, and alternative payment systems like WeChat Pay and Alipay.

Things are moving fast…and they’re going to continue moving at a rapid pace.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball and cannot see too far ahead to know what is coming.  However, I do believe we have a role to play in influencing that direction.  This is what the MAG does so well through collaboration, information, and education.   Today it is more important than ever for merchants to become active players in technology standards.  Organizations like PCI, EMVCo, W3C, FIDO Alliance, and many others are creating the roadmaps today for our use cases of tomorrow.

Why is it so important to be involved in the standards some may ask?  Let me ask a different question.  For those of you who implemented EMV, during implementation, would you have liked to have changed how the chip card process operated?  Would you have liked to come out of the gates with faster transaction times?  That’s why things like “quick chip” were added after the fact and not in the beginning.  So, how do you change that mindset?  We have to get involved earlier in the process and we have to make the Merchant’s voice heard early and often.

Recently, I was able to attend the EMVCo Board of Advisors meeting in October.  It is clear that no one other than the merchants are thinking about the merchants and in many cases the customer experience. Things like Buy Online Pick-up In Store, Card Holder Authentication, and Digital Experiences in Physical Environments will continue to change our businesses and we need to make sure the standards account for that.

Last points about standards. Who are they intended for; business teams or technical ones? I like to think of them as a seesaw, you know the teeter totter from your childhood playground days. They’re for both. They must be written to solve business needs, but in a way that can be technically implemented to benefit your business. They must have input from both, understanding from both, and partnership from both.

This is why, the MAG started the Tech Forum this past year. Therefore, I am honored to be serving on the board with other great leaders from our industry to help curate, shape, and share topics of technical relevance related to payments.  These topics are important to both Business and Technical leaders from our industry.  I hope you can join us in the conversation and help in shaping tomorrow’s standards today.