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With Apple on Its Board, the ETA’s Leadership Increasingly Tilts Towards Tech
January 9, 2017

By Jim Daly

Founded in 1990 as the national trade group of independent sales organizations, the Electronic Transactions Association is taking on a decidedly technology-oriented hue as the payments industry rapidly evolves. The ETA announced last week that an Apple Inc. executive was elected to a two-year term on its board of directors, joining a representative from Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit who was elected to the board in 2016.

Image Credit: Electronic Transactions Association
The ETA's board reflects the industry, Oxman says.

Another member of the 2017 board is Eric Dunn, chief executive of Quicken, the financial-software company spun off last year from Intuit Inc. In addition, the Washington, D.C.-based ETA’s Presidential Advisory Council, whose seven appointed members hold non-voting seats on the board, includes Ben Volk, director of global payment acceptance and experience at Amazon.com Inc., and Reetika Grewal, head of payments strategy and solutions at Silicon Valley Bank, a lender to tech companies.

Apple’s representative is Eric Hoffman, director of Internet software and services, who served on the Presidential Advisory Council last year. Hoffman was unavailable for comment.

ETA chief executive Jason Oxman tells Digital Transactions News that the 2017 board is “a great mix ... that tells the story of how the industry is changing. I think it’s a reflection of our industry.”

Electronic payments have always involved technology, of course, but the tech of the 1980s and into the mid-1990s mostly involved countertop point-of-sale terminals and supporting equipment for what Oxman calls “magnetic card swipe acceptance.” But with the rise of online commerce, leading Internet retailer Amazon became a major payments player by offering consumers options to pay online, and also by offering other e-commerce retailers payment acceptance through Amazon. Apple and Google entered the payments space more recently as mobile wallets came onto the scene.

Payments now “is much broader than just magnetic stripes, and that’s why we have a mix of new technology and innovators,” Oxman says.

A small but increasing number of ETA members are independent software vendors and value-added resellers, whose business-management applications ISOs increasingly offer to merchants. “They’re a fast-growing segment of our membership,” says Oxman. “We certainly have a lot of our members sponsoring ISVs, VARs.”

Big names in tech that belong to the ETA but aren’t on the board include Microsoft, Intel, and Samsung. “The reason they are participating in ETA is to strike partnerships,” says Oxman.

Google’s representative is Steve Klebe, a business-development executive who worked for several payments companies before joining Google in 2011 and served a previous stint on the ETA board from 2003-05. The ETA’s leadership also reflects the globalization of the electronic-payments industry. Souheil Badran, president for the Americas of China-based Ant Financial, is a member of the Advisory Council. Ant Financial runs Alipay, an e-commerce payment service.

Despite the rise of tech members and the growth of regional ISO associations, ISOs remain a significant force in the ETA. The association has nearly 550 member companies, 200 of which are ISOs. “It’s still the largest constituency,” says Oxman.

One of the newer ISOs on the 15-member ETA board is Anovia Payments, represented by its president and chief executive, Kevin Jones. Other ISOs on the board include iPayment and Priority Payment Systems. Total Merchant Services is on the Advisory Council.

Merchant acquirers and processors also remain a core group of ETA members. Jeff Sloan, chief executive of Atlanta-based Global Payments Inc., is the ETA’s 2017 chairman and president. Other big acquirers and processors with representatives on the board or Presidential Advisory Council include Worldpay, First Data, Elavon, Bank of America Merchant Services, Vantiv, and Moneris Solutions.

Other companies represented on the ETA board or Advisory Council include TD Bank, VeriFone Systems, Commerce Ventures, JPMorgan Chase, and NetSpend, the prepaid card subsidiary of processor Total System Services (TSYS).

The major payment networks— Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, as well as PayPal—have ex-officio representatives on the ETA board. And NACHA, the automated clearing house network’s governing body, is represented by its CEO, Jan Estep.

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