Presidential Perspectives: The State of Payments and Financial Technology

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Kevin Jones, ETA President and Chairman, and CEO, Celero Commerce September 16, 2019 It was a pleasure to spend two days in Washington, D.C. advocating on behalf of Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) members during our annual Fly-In and ETA FinTech Policy Forum.  Across the events, ETA members exchanged ideas and provided essential input on our industry to Members of Congress and policymakers across the government.

It’s exciting to serve as the President of ETA at this time of tremendous growth – in both size and importance – of the payments technology industry. ETA members, from startups to public companies, drive the future of commerce. Through innovative distribution and payment acceptance models for credit, debit, and prepaid cards, electronic payments are more important to American businesses and consumers than ever before. As we head into the final quarter of 2019, we have many reasons to be excited about the state of payments and financial technology, as well as the future of our association.

Since I joined the payments industry at the start of the new millennium, the total number of credit card transactions in the U.S. has doubled to over 33 billion per year. The payments industry now fuels annually $7 trillion in payments across North America and a staggering $21 trillion globally.

I witnessed  firsthand the enthusiasm for the products and services our industry is delivering during my two days in D.C. Our work truly speaks for itself – you can tell our government leaders are just as excited as we are about our industry’s achievements and where we are headed.

A key example is how payments technology is helping the underserved and democratizing access to financial services.  More people today own a cell phone than have a bank account. FinTech enables a simple app on your phone to make a payment, take a payment, transfer money to a friend, or even allow a small business to submit a loan application. With advances like these, fintech has the power to help Americans of all incomes and businesses of all sizes.

With the power of the internet, merchants of virtually any size can instantly operate in all 50 states and around the globe.  Part of our advocacy efforts was to encourage policymakers to provide clarity with a uniform national privacy law. Complying with a patchwork of unique state privacy laws would be confusing to customers and daunting, logistically difficult, and costly for payments businesses of all sizes to ensure compliance.

ETA’s advocacy on this issue is critical since data plays an important role in supporting our industry’s continuous effort to fight fraud.   Our long-standing commitment to fighting fraud is essential to the profitability of our businesses. One of our industry’s greatest achievements was the rollout of EMV cards.  With tokenization brought by EMV cards, counterfeit fraud was reduced by 87% in the U.S. and made that fraud less profitable.  But our industry’s fight against fraud online is far from finished.

Now, real-time monitoring allows for malicious actors to be identified even before a fraudulent transaction is executed. Tools like biometrics, geo-location, and tokenization—all recent innovations—are key to efforts in fighting fraud. These technologies are powered by the responsible use of data to create smart and sophisticated tools that prevent and detect fraud. It’s essential that we as payments advocates speak up for a policy environment that supports them.

From my seat on the ETA Board of Directors, I see how vital ETA is, both in Washington and around the country, to help our industry grow.  Under the new leadership of Jodie Kelley, we are bringing fresh energy to our work with policymakers on pro-payments legislation that helps all consumers and business move forward and strengthen the American economy.

Innovation, collaboration, and a motivation that’s built on positioning American businesses and consumers for financial success—these are the defining qualities of our industry and of ETA.

This article originally ran on TransactionTrends.com, the official news site of ETA. Click here to subscribe to Transaction Trends Weekly to receive weekly payments industry news and analysis from ETA.