The Electronic Transactions Association has wrapped up the first year of testing for its Certified Payments Professional credential, a designation intended to indicate knowledge of the acquiring industry.

“Just a year in, we’ve got 500 ETA CPPs running around,” says Rori Ferensic, the association’s director of education and professional development .

The trade group conducted exams for the credential during three one-month periods this year at locations across North America.

It completed a study guide a few months ago and furnishes it for free to candidates who have paid a fee to take the test, Ferensic says. The guide also is available for $49.95 as a pdf, she says.

In the latest round of testing, about 250 potential candidates registered, nearly 200 followed through and took the exam and 85% passed, Ferensic says. Prospective examinees have a year to take the exam after signing up.

“We’re thrilled with the level of adoption and excitement and enthusiasm,” Jason Oxman, the association’s CEO, says of the credential’s reception.

He predicts the number of candidates will grow in the coming year as more of the industry’s executives see the initial results.

Those results have been documented in a study by Merchant Warehouse, a Boston-based independent sales organization.

Merchant Warehouse theorized that if each of the eligible salespeople in its company who earned the credential made an average of a third of an extra deal after taking the exam, the company would recover the $30,000 it intended to spend this year on the test. (The association charges $350 per test for member companies and $450 for non-members.)

Merchant Warehouse found that credentialed salespeople submitted more deals than before and thus increased revenue. Training sessions held before the test strengthened the company’s partnerships with agents, employee morale improved because of the company’s investment in training, agent retention improved and employees became more confident after passing the exam.

The association hopes to see the credential integrated into agents’ training regimens, Oxman says. Eventually, the trade group hopes every sales agent will seek the credential.

“That’s going to be our goal going forward,” he notes.

The group plans to administer tests again throughout May. Its registration deadline falls on April 1.

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