Payments News

MAGMail - Letter from MAG CEO John Drechny RE: COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

Dear MAG member,

We are in an unprecedented time in which the rules we live by are changing at a rapid pace. Merchants have stepped up during this time to deliver unparalleled service to your customers and communities. From liberal refund policies, curbside pickup, and expedited delivery service to parking lot testing for Covid-19, it has all been impressive. The MAG is proud to be part of the merchant community and is here to help.

Your safety and wellness are a big concern to us at the MAG, and we hope you are all taking the recommended steps to ensure that you and those around you remain healthy. With a concerted effort we will flatten the curve and get back to a more normal life quickly.

At the MAG, we have been thinking through how both the payments industry and your personal environment may be changing. On the payments side, customers are more concerned about the touchpoints required to make purchases. This has led to an increase in remote payments and delivery of goods. From a personal environment, many of you may find yourself now in a work from home environment, as well as taking on additional responsibilities like engaging your children in remote learning. Hopefully this note, and another to follow on working remotely, will help provide you with some practical advice.

From the payments side, the following are some thoughts and recommendations:

Make sure you have protocols in place to keep your payments hardware clean.

Look for ways to reduce the interaction needed to complete a transaction, including:

  • Eliminating the collection of signatures to authorize purchases for all EMV enabled terminals. The networks have eliminated the requirement for collection, and it is a touchpoint that adds risks of spreading germs.
  • Implement PINless protocols from the debit networks. This will allow you to keep the benefits of routing choice without collecting the PIN. Register for our webinar on PINless acceptance here. 
  • Consider purchasing tableside or handheld devices that allow the customers and staff to minimize touchpoints.
  • If you are considering contactless, think through the functionality needed to ensure routing choice for debit transactions and your ability to service the customer when receiving tokens from mobile devices.

Consider remote payments options:

  • Order online pick up in store – In many cases, this can remove both the need for a transaction to take place in-store as well as add convenience to your customers.
  • Order ahead – Many restaurants have already created applications that allow customers to both order and pay for food before they even arrive at the restaurant, allowing for speedy and interaction-free pickup.
  • Create a mobile wallet – Many retailers have created their own wallets that use a 2-D bar code or a cloud transaction to complete the purchase in-store without requiring consumers to physically touch a terminal.
  • Stored credentials – In this scenario, the merchant may store payment information and facilitate the transaction without a card being inserted into a terminal. Pharmacies have deployed stored credentials with prescription pick up. 

We’d like to reassure you that we are all in this together, and the MAG is engaged with partners in the industry to advocate on behalf of our members. We have been engaged with the networks to consider delaying impactful projects and initiatives, such as the liability shift around EMV at the automated fuel dispenser and to reconsider interchange increases that are scheduled to go into effect soon. While we are hopeful in making progress on these issues, we encourage you to continue the needed work as best you can as if the implementation timelines won’t change. If we do receive news of any changes from the current deadlines, we will let you know as soon as possible.

Our goal during this time is to ensure that we are supporting the merchant community’s efforts to serve your associates and customers. If there are additional actions you believe we should be taking to serve our membership in this challenging time, please feel free to email me.

I hope to see you all soon when the various meetings and conferences start back up and I look forward to hearing your stories of what you learned during this crazy time. Until then, stay safe, stay connected, and remember to wash your hands often.

John Drechny
MAG CEO


The Merchant Advisory Group (MAG) was founded in 2008 by a small visionary group of merchants in the payments field dedicated to driving positive change in payments through multi-stakeholder collaboration. The MAG represents 150 of the largest U.S. merchants which account for over $4.4 Trillion in annual sales at over 450,000 locations across the U.S. and online. Roughly $3.9 Trillion of those sales and over 113 Billion card payments are electronic which represents approximately 59%* of total U.S. card volume. MAG members employ over 14 million associates.
*Source of Total U.S. card volumes: Federal Reserve Payments Study 2016


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