ECAF 2008

Over 200 professionals from 34 countries got together for a 3 day conference to discuss the most critical challenges in the European Card Acquiring Value Chain.

This was the Empiria Groups inaugural event on Card Acquiring. It was a great pleasure to see so many professionals from all over Europe and beyond.

The event brought many lively debates between merchants, card acquirers, schemes and processors. During three really intensive days, the audience has had a chance to hear several case studies, that have been shorter, but had an abundance of “hard facts” and practical advice.

ECAF 2008 Key Speakers:

Barclaycard Business (GB), HSBC International (GB), Yapi Kredi Bank (TR), Svenska Handelsbanken (SE)

Merchants & Merchant Associations:
Gala Coral Group (GB), Avis Europe (GB), EuroCommerce (BE), European Retail Round Table (ERRT), Post Office Ltd. (GB), & (GB), Easy Computers (GB), ClickandBuy (GB)

MasterCard (GB), Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (FR), EAPS (BE)

Equens (NL) , TSYS Europe (GB), Cybersource (GB), Zecure (DK)

Industry Experts:
N2Euro (BE), Samport (SE), TNSI (GB), Welcome Realtime (FR), Postilion (GB), First Annapolis Consulting (BE), EPCI (BE), Mike Hendry (GB), PSE Consulting (GB), Edgar Dunn & Company (GE), Kilrush Consultancy (GB), TietoEnator Banking & Insurance (SE), TAFMO (Australia), BDOA e.V. (DE)

Regulatory & Standardisation:
European Commission, EPCI

ECAF 2008 Sponsors:

MasterCard - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008Equens - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008Tsys - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008
TAFMO - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008Tieto - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008 Ogone - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008
Discover - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008 TNSI - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008First Annapolis - European Card Acquiring Forum 2008

ECAF 2008 Chairmen Summary:

Summary of Conference Day 1 by Peter Jones, MD, PSE Consulting


Peter Jones, Managing Director, has over 36 years business and IT experience, 4 with a major European retailer, 17 with a UK clearing bank (Nat West) and 15 as a Director of specialist payment systems consulting organisations. He is the founder and owner of PSE Consulting which he established in 1991. He has particular expertise in high and low value payments, debit and credit cards, card schemes, interchange, EftPos , cross border acquiring and e-commerce payments. Over the past 15 years, he has been responsible for managing and conducting over 600 payments assignments for clients within the UK, Europe and the Middle East. His particular strengths are in developing business and product strategies, facilitating workshops and business case development. He is from an IT background and has led and managed major development projects relating to payments systems. He is well known within European Payments businesses and is a regular writer on payments related articles and a speaker at conferences.

„The theme of the afternoon was deriving business benefits from chip acquiring and from SEPA.  The various speakers addressed this in quite different ways:  TAFMO presented his company's proprietary model for terminal applications, which has been successful in Australia. Avis and Barclaycard described the benefits of central acquiring in the card hire business, and they were followed by Yapi Kredi Bank in Turkey, which leverages both acquiring and issuing propositions to deliver a package of instalment payments and loyalty.  First Annapolis Consulting then compared the Mergers and Acquisitions scene in Europe with that in the USA, to help give participants a sense of where the value lies in their business.
These different examples were enough to give the lie to the often-heard complaint that both chip and SEPA yield costs but no benefits.

This was followed by a panel discussion in which MasterCard, Equens, Ogone and IKEA discussed the impact of SEPA, the introduction of Payment Institutions under the PSD, and the future of scheme ownership.
There was widespread agreement that the momentum behind SEPA is slowing and the current timetables will not be met, and this was echoed in the audience: a show of hands found no-one who felt that SEPA was gaining momentum and a large majority who felt it was losing momentum and support.
I was surprised that the group thought most likely to become Payment Institutions was retailers - to give them direct access to clearing and settlement systems.

Inevitably, I suppose, each player felt that his own business model was likely to thrive in the face of the coming changes. Although there is still room for growth in payments generally, the suggestion in the room seemed to be that little will change in the structure of the business.
A member of the audience did dare to point out that a similar revolution in the structure of the telecoms industry had resulted in many more losers than winners, but was quietly forgotten in the rush for the bar and coming dinner ...“

Summary of Conference Day 2 by Mike Hendy, Payment Systems Consultant


Mike Hendry is a recognised industry expert in the areas of EMV and card security and has for the last three years been the Technical & Operations Director of the UK Chip & PIN Programme. Mike is regularly published in payments industry magazines and has written a number of well regarded books in the area of card security; he is a member of the UK card payment standards (APACS70) committee and of the panel for the annual “Sésames” awards for innovation in the cards industry. Mike has worked in the payments industry for the past twenty years on a wide range of business and technical areas across Europe and Asia including: eCommerce payments and fraud management; smart card (chip card) developments in banking and retail sectors; multi-application card systems, retail loyalty and security of chip card systems; card management and transaction authorisation systems; and security and risk management in transaction-based networks.

„The EU acquiring market is going through substantial change after many years as second cousin to the card issuer business. Over 32 billion transactions per annum are processed, growing at 9%. Gross turnover is almost €2 billion, and commissions represent €13 billion per annum and the number of POS is close to 9 million. Acquiring now supports many business models, not just physical world, including remote and e-commerce.But times are also changing.  Only 6% of payments are by card, leaving enormous opportunities for acquiring growth.  During any one year PSE Consulting carries out 20-30 acquiring and processing assignment.  Looking back over the past year we suggest the following key challenges the acquiring sector needs to address:

1. How to make acquiring business more market and merchant facing?  Europe has the typical bankers problem of designing products for themselves!

2. How to better understand merchant needs and add value to their payments processing for their customers?

3. How to build compelling propositions in market that is moving to utility for basic services?  How to develop VAS, DCC, MTU, revenue sharing, non card payment services?

4. How to make every merchant, every transaction, every POS – at a minimum make a contribution?  There is a great need for improved pricing models and the analysis of merchant portfolios and use of analytical processes.

5. How to match, keep ahead of competitors, including non banks, new players (PayPal and others)?  Non banks will potentially win up to 20% of market in 3/5 years time!

6. What market positioning (universal/niche) and developing new market entry strategies for larger players including M&A and sale of acquiring portfolios?

7. How to manage the business and implement best practice governance, particularly for pan-EU/CEE/multi country operations?

8. How to distribute the acquiring product, build and operate an effective sales force and utilise ISO partners – the most important activity?

9. How to implement best practice and consistently reduce costs in operations, terminal fulfilment, network management, call centres, exception item processing?

10. How to manage change, the card scheme mandates, EMV, PCI, PSD, SEPA?

11. Finding/building a best of breed IT platform, to support multiple business models, IT in-house, outsourced delivery platforms?

12. How to manage regulation at both pan-EU and national market level?

SEPA for cards is now half way through its development.  In the pipeline (EPC’s Card Working Group) are standards for the four acceptance levels of thePOS.  In addition SEPA has stimulated the development of EAPS which now has some significant supporters and is likely to be a growing force and an alternative payment scheme within Europe over the next three years.  Merchants, on the other hand, are uncomfortable with the progress being made under SEPA, and don’t consider the project is yet delivering.

Around the world and within Europe, interchange and MSCs remain a constant source of friction between regulators, banks and merchants.  In America rates continue to rise and become more complex.  In Europe there is strong pressure from the European Commission and the merchant sector for interchange to decline and for the eventual introduction of common rates for the Eurozone and eventually all Europe.  Several speakers speculated on the outcome of the D G competition’s investigation into Mastercard and Visa interchange fees.  The general conclusion was that changes in MIF will not have a significant impact on the structure and basis of most merchant pricing.  The merchant sector on the other hand made a strong case for fairer open pricing and for rates that were much closer to the cost of processing.“

Testimonials 2008:

“A professionally run conference with excellent attendance from specialists within cards industry, important industry topics addressed and knowledge excellently delivered by the speakers with value added from the subsequent sessions run.”
Head of International Acquiring, Sales HSBC International, UK

“The Forum was very well organized with high quality speakers, relevant topics and excellent overall venue. It was impressive to meet so many card acquiring senior professionals from leading market players covering different countries and regions. I liked the format with short to-the-point presentations and discussion panels moderated by field experts. Special thanks to organizers for very good job!”
Head of Cards, TietoEnator Banking & Insurance

“When me and my colleagues first looked at the agenda of the event, we thought it was the best agenda we've ever seen regarding card acquiring.”
Head of Department of Merchant Acquiring, OTP Bank, Hungary

“I think I've already met all the people I wanted to meet...”
General Manager-Treasury, Air Malta Plc, Malta

“I think the conference has hit the target. In terms of the programme, you can't do better than you have here.”
PCI Project Manager, Change & IS, Post Office Ltd

“A new format for card conferences: many speakers – many subjects. A wide view on the market in just a few hours.”
Managing Director, EPCI, Belgium

“Very useful and informative event with a lot of industry experts. Organisation was outstanding.”
Co-Head of Cards, Product Management, Deutsche Bank AG, Germany

ECAF 2008 Photo Gallery

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ECAF 2010 Sponsors
First Data Samport Payment Services AB Equens TSYS Atos Worldline Verizon Business Diners Club International Retail Decisions Six Pay First Annapolis Trustwave Zecure Elavon Tieto Welcome Real-time OpenWay Actimize
ECAF 2010 Exhibitors
S1 Onformonics Thinksoft Global Hypercom PayFair McAffee HPS ai Corporation
ECAF 2010 workshop partner