If you’ve never heard of the Electronic Transactions Association or their annual conference, you don’t know electronic payment systems. Think of their annual conference as the SEMA show for the automotive aftermarket modifications industry or what the annual Comic Con event represents for the comic book industry. Every year, the biggest and the best in electronic payments get together in Las Vegas to tout the latest and greatest in payment technology. Naturally, 2015 looks to be the year of Bitcoin at Electronic Transactions Association’s Transact 15 conference.
The Electronic Transactions Association Transact 15 conference this year will have many firsts. It will be the first time the conference will be held outside of Las Vegas, in San Francisco. It will be located at the expansive Moscone Center, with over 55,000 square feet of space to use for the 3-day event. They are also expecting a record crowd of over 4000 attendees for the first time.
“By holding Transact 15 in San Francisco we’re taking advantage of a window of opportunity,” said Jason Oxman, CEO of the trade group.”Maybe we’re drawing record attendance because it’s in San Francisco?”
While in San Francisco, Electronic Transactions Association’s Oxman has plans to woo many of the local payments startups and the investors that back them. ETA has created special deals in to bring them new businesses, investors, and first-time attendees into the fold through this year’s conference.
Key executives on the agenda at Transact 15 include Visa President Ryan McInerney and another first will be BitPay Executive Chairman Tony Gallippi being a keynote speaker. Bitcoin will not only have a top executive there, but payment of registration fees will be accepted in Bitcoin for the first time in the event’s history.
Leaders in banking also are regularly in attendance, as they do the majority of electronic payments nationally, in one form or another. Debra Rossi, head of Wells Fargo Merchant Services, turned heads last year when she found a silver lining in Target’s massive security breach in 2013. Companies like Target and Home Depot had tens of millions of accounts compromised through hacking and fraud through their merchant accounts. The much-publicized breaches propelled banks, retailers and consumers to work much harder on improving security in these antiquated card-based systems, which are based upon 1950’s technology.
“I hate to say it, but I was sort of happy for Target. I feel bad for them, but it got the industry moving on the consumer side and the merchant side,” said Rossi. “We’re all moving together.”
United States regulations will start to move debit/credit cards from magnetic stripe payment tech to chip-based cards used elsewhere in the industrialized world. This is still decades behind the Bitcoin technology, but it is a start. The merchants will also have to accept greater financial responsibility for fraud and security issues if they do not adopt the revised card tech into their systems.
Apple Pay was the feature story last year, but it will start to see pushback from a new rival service, Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX. This private group initiative is a joint venture among retailers to offer their own mobile payment service, and will be well-represented at this year’s event, which runs from March 31st to April 2nd.
Upstar.bizjournals.com contributed to this story.
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