A Conversation with Jason Oxman, Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA)

Navigator Edition: March 2014
By: Scott Calliham

1- jason-oxman_etaWe recently had the opportunity to speak with Jason Oxman, Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), about the ETA’s strategy. In this Q&A session, we cover topics such as the outlook for the ETA in the coming year, challenges facing the payments industry, and the ETA’s thought leadership programs.

Jason Oxman brings two decades of technology and policy experience to the ETA, the global trade association representing more than 500 financial and technology companies in the electronic payments industry. Jason joined the ETA from the Consumer Electronics Association, owner of the International CES®, where he served as Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs. Previously, Oxman served as General Counsel of a technology industry trade association and as Vice President of a Silicon Valley-based technology company. Oxman also worked at the Federal Communications Commission to develop and implement technology and broadband policies. He began his legal career as a law clerk for the Maine Supreme Court, and he is also a former broadcast journalist. Oxman received his B.A., cum laude, from Amherst College, and his M.S. and J.D. from Boston University.

What are your goals for the ETA this year and beyond?

Our focus is to continue to position the ETA as the hub of activity in the payments and technology world. The ETA is a central hub of industry activity, education, policy activity, and overall business activity, as well as credentialing activities related to standards and best practices.

What do you view as the biggest change that the ETA faces today?

The biggest change in the ETA’s 22-year history has been the expansion of the payments industry to include technology companies. I think the most important change that our industry is experiencing and, therefore the ETA is experiencing, is viewing innovation of the payments network as a positive for incumbents in the industry. That is to say, that the traditional ISO and acquiring channels have grown up over the last 30 years in a particular way. I think disruption in technology is presenting huge opportunities for traditional payment companies that embrace new products and services for merchants. I think the change, again, for both the ETA and for the industry, is that we all view that kind of disruption as a huge positive for us as long as we’re willing to make the necessary changes to embrace and deploy new technologies.

What do you see as the biggest risks or challenges with either new technology or other issues that are coming up?

I think the biggest risk is disintermediation, and that is the bypassing of traditional channels to merchants. I think the value proposition that the ETA is communicating on behalf of its members to new technology companies is that there is no better channel than the traditional acquiring channel to reach the nation’s eight million merchants that accept electronic payments. No matter how disruptive and how innovative the new payments technology is, it still needs an established channel to reach the merchant. The payments industry is enormously complicated and heavily regulated; it still needs companies that know what they’re doing in payments. So preservation of that channel that the ETA traditionally represents is, first and foremost, our priority. Ensuring that new technology companies work together with existing payments companies to bring their products to market, really, is how we want to capitalize on this opportunity.

What are some of the new ways the ETA is spearheading educational change and capturing the voice of its members?

The ETA established two new committees in 2013 that have been enormously successful; the first is our Mobile Payments Committee, which is currently our largest committee. We have more than 60 companies participating and it has really become an essential focus for the mobile payments industry working together to educate consumers and merchants about the value of deploying mobile payments. We’ve been extremely pleased to welcome all of the nation’s mobile network operators, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, as members in the ETA. Additionally, there are technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Intel, Amazon, as well as mobile application companies and new payments technology companies participating in the ETA’s Mobile Payments Committee. I am quite pleased with this enormously successful undertaking.

Our second new committee, which has also been enormously successful, is our Large Processor Council. Our Large Processor Council is a body that addresses the very specific and very important issues faced by our nation’s largest processors. All of the largest processors in the country are members of the ETA and because of their position in the payments value chain, the processors interface with almost every player in the payments ecosystem from the card networks to acquirers, ISOs, equipment manufacturers, and other vendors. In fact, really, everybody in the payments ecosystem has a business arrangement with processors and therefore processors have a large number of issues that are unique to them and very important to the industry. So our Large Processor Council is designed to address those needs through various working groups within the Council to tackle industry-specific issues. As you know, First Annapolis has helped with this Council from the beginning, and has been engaged with facilitating the working groups, providing industry expertise and helping to draft the work product that the Council is interested in pursuing. We’re pleased with the participation we have in the Large Processor Council and it’s working very well.

What issues have these committees focused on recently?

I would say that the one important issue that the Large Processor Council has been engaged in is related to law enforcement investigations of merchants that happen to be on processors’ networks. The concern that the ETA is addressing with the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, and on Capitol Hill is that if processors happen to have a merchant that is in violation of a particular law on their network, we believe the processor should not be held liable for criminal behavior by the merchant simply because the merchant happens to be accepting payment cards and selling products that it shouldn’t have been selling. The concern is that law enforcement has tried to bring processors in as liable for the behavior of bad merchants on their networks when processors have no involvement in, and no awareness of, what those merchants are doing that’s against the law. As soon as the processors do become aware of it, they terminate those merchants from their networks.

The Large Processor Council has asked the ETA to become heavily engaged in this issue. We’re dealing directly with those law enforcement agencies to make sure that processors aren’t unfairly caught up in investigations, which can be costly and time consuming. We’ve also developed, and are in the process of deploying, best practices guidelines for the use of all ETA members who want to know what the industry’s best practices are regarding merchant onboarding and monitoring, ISO monitoring, and the like. It’s a very significant undertaking for the ETA and it has been very helpful to our members.

The Electronic Transactions Association is an international trade association representing companies who offer electronic transaction processing products and services. The purpose of the ETA is to influence, monitor and help shape the merchant acquiring industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.

ETA’s membership spans the breadth of the payments industry, from financial institutions to transaction processors to independent sales organizations (ISOs) to equipment suppliers. More than 500 companies worldwide are members of the ETA.

For questions about the ETA, including membership please contact Jason Oxman at, (202) 677-7402.

For more information, please contact Scott Calliham, Principal, specializing in Merchant Acquiring,

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