Some U.S. acquiring industry veterans are organizing the first International Acquiring Forum, which is scheduled for Sept. 17-19 in London and has the backing of the Electronic Transactions Association.

One of the organizers, Linda S. Perry, a consultant and former Visa Inc. executive, took time out this week from creating a website for the event to describe the forum to ISO&Agent Weekly.

Perry and Tom Layman came up with the idea for the conference. Perry says. Layman’s another former Visa executive who’s operated his own consulting company, Global Vision Group, for about a decade.

Perry and Layman hashed out some details and then approached ETA to present their proposal for a conference in Europe, Perry says.

As a former board member of the association, Perry knew the ETA had been interested for several years in becoming active abroad.

ETA listened to the plan and signed on to become involved, Perry says.

Since then, she’s been lining up speakers and creating a list of possible topics to cover.

She declined to divulge the names of executives who have agreed to speak because the project remains in its early stages. Subject matter did not present a problem.

“I could think of 25 topics off the top of my head,” Perry says. “It’s not difficult to find topics of interest. So much of acquiring has been global for a while.”

The topics, which could include technology, security and products, would represent a mix – some centered on the United States and others focused on other countries, she says.

Managers at companies that don’t operate in North America don’t have much interest in acquiring here, and the same holds true for American companies that don’t operate abroad, Perry notes.

The organizers expect 100 to 150 people at the forum, including attendees, speakers and organizers.

They anticipate 50% will come from the U.S. and 50% from other nations, Perry says.

Most attendees will probably be C-Level executives, she predicts, because the high cost of international travel might dissuade some companies from sending junior executives.

Besides, the organizers hope to limit the forum to a size they can manage without major hassles.

“I want this to be small enough that it’s a great one-on-one networking opportunity,” Perry says. “Also, I didn’t want to overreach this first time.”

For the ETA, the forum could represent an early step toward embracing Europe.

Kevin G. Jones, president and CEO of Dallas-based Anovia Payments and an active participant in ETA, told ISO&Agent Weekly in a recent interview that the association’s move into Europe fills a vacuum there.

“There’s not really a solid international association that handles payments [in Europe]. It’s by country,” he says. “The ETA is going to try to utilize that opportunity to fill in that gap.”

Many of the tech companies now joining the associaion already operate in Europe, Jones says. Moreover, ISOs are beginning to folllow their clients and tech partners abroad, he says.

Perry comes to the project after organizing four consecutive annual acquiring meetings in Europe for Visa.

Layman maintains an office in Europe and also has experience in Latin America.

Perry also intends to work with other acquiring executives who have experience in Asia and the Pacific.


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