MPE 2012 summary

Brief information

Merchant Payments Ecosystem (MPE) 2012, formerly known as the European Card Acquiring Forum (ECAF), proved again to be the leading payment acceptance event in Europe.

Event in numbers
  • Attendees: 407
  • Speakers: 65
  • Sponsors: 21
  • Exhibitors: 19


Merchant Payments Ecosystem (MPE) 2012, formerly known as the European Card Acquiring Forum (ECAF), proved again to be the leading payment acceptance event in Europe.

Looking at how the industry evolves, this transition from ECAF to MPE has been more than natural. The way we buy and sell goods and services is changing, and so are the ways merchants accept payments. Mobile payments are becoming ubiquitous and the need to explore secure options for alternative payments is booming. New innovative players are entering the market and social media are converging with payments.

Renewed conference format enabled MPE to encompass all of these trends and display lots of breakthrough innovations in a very interactive fashion. More than 400 senior attendees enjoyed 3 conference days packed by carefully designed sessions, giving enough room for questions, debates and networking.

The team of Empiria.

Chairmen summaries

Remarks on Conference Day 1 by Robert Herzig, Head of POS Clearing/Financial Services,Treasury, METRO AG

Robert Herzig worked for over 10 years in the card business. At METRO AG is in charge of the Treasury for five years for cashless payments and consumer finance business. Previously he worked at HypoVereinsbank (UniCredit Group) in Munich in various positions, most recently in the field of electronic business services. He completed his studies in economics at the Universities of Augsburg and Valladolid (Spain).


„The name of the conference changed from European Card Acquiring Forum to Merchant Payments Ecosystem. The reason could be seen yet on the first day of the conference:

The former three or four party models are changing, new players are entering the payment market.

And not just new players, as well new techniques and payment services entered the e-commerce market and are just around the corner and ready to enter as well the face to face business.

When will this take place? Although new devices like smart phones are spreading out rapidly most of the participants think that cards will remain quite a long time and will be replaced not within the next five years.

Beside the technical developments the current business models and the influence of existing and upcoming regulations were in the focus of the first day. Maybe this will lead some day to more central acquiring activities of the merchants. Some acquirers are on their way from a former national player to a regional or even European player, for them a way of no return and without alternative in order to survive. So during the first day very interesting discussions took place and in the panels and in the breaks one could often hear the phrase that these are one of the most interesting times card business ever had.

So we are looking forward to seeing you next year to have a look of the development of our ecosystem.“

Robert Herzig
Chairman of the first conference day

Remarks on Conference Day 2 by Chris De Smet, MD, De Smet Consulting

Mr. Chris De Smet has an international managerial experience in the financial services, telecommunications and information technology areas. In those sectors he acquired expertise as CEO, COO and President at national, European and worldwide level, whereby a continuous focus on customer relationship management and customer profitability were guiding factors. Chris operates since more than 10 years his own consultancy company with main focus on financial services, retail and card payments and related areas. After having worked as a partner with Arthur D. Little, KPMG and Unisys Consulting, he now works for international clients as an individual consultant and mentor. Over the last years, he has been actively involved with Visa Europe. He is 63 years of age, married and lives in Belgium.


„As I already elaborated in my introduction at the second day of the conference, some of the presentations and discussions increased my conviction that the stakeholders of the payments industry need to carefully consider the future. The debate around the Commission’s ‘Green Paper’, the criticism about the perceived lack of competition and lack of transparency, the continuous debate about the true costs of the various means of payment, all leave me with the feeling that having open and unbiased discussions between the various stakeholders is an absolute necessity. In a few countries, such as Norway and the Netherlands, discussions between retailers, banks, government and controlling instances, have led to higher use of electronic payments and a better understanding of the costs of each payment alternative throughout the value chain. If we do not have a similar debate at European level, this industry risks of becoming more and more controlled and legislated to the point that neither the necessary investments nor the financial rewards will be safeguarded. Payments as an industry should not become a commodity!

The second day of the MPE conference, started with a number of solid presentations around fraud and security issues. Impressive as the content of the presentations was, it still felt as if this is an ongoing ‘chase’ whereby organized crime has more means than the industry. As the fight continues, the overall costs of the actual fraud , the missed business for the retailers and the costs at each point in the chain (retailers, PSP’s, processors, payment schemes, call centers, software developers, etc…) is growing and staggering. I wonder what we can do to bring this overall cost down? What mobile and NFC will do to the business case? Actually, it is most likely that these only add up to the costs and the business case becomes as elusive as it was for smart cards in the nineties.

Later on in the day, we were presented an interesting development made by the EBA. Technically a very logical solution which should allow customers of the banks to link into their current account for payments on the internet. At national level similar solutions have proven to be successful and loved by the end customer. It is not a guarantee though that the same customers will also want to use a similar solution for their international payments and, most importantly, it also needs a business case approach! This being said, no doubt that, if well executed, such a product concept could bring down fraud levels and costs. I wonder why none of the schemes is coming up with a solution: they know how to support banks in creating a new and meaningful product and have all the scheme knowledge available. It is only about adding a layer of technology to already existing infrastructure and develop the necessary scheme rules.

I was most intrigued by the presentations around ‘social media’. On the one hand, it shows how the consumer of today is willing to share his whereabouts through all sorts of applications, yet on the other hand this is hardly aligned with our genuine desire for privacy. Some of these developments may not be ‘mainstream’ today, but they clearly show the disaggregation of the industry and the fact in future even more than now, it is impossible for anyone to control the whole value chain. The last part of the conference around payment strategies for e-payment illustrated what various players, such as banks, technology providers, retail customers, airlines, expect and/or are doing to further develop the market. It shows that exponential growth in e-payments is definitely expected, that there are lots of opportunities to improve today’s services and service levels and that the role of technology remains important but is only one aspect of how to ensure that the demands of the retailer (any retailer) and the customers are met.

All in all, a most interesting day, illustrating the challenges and opportunities of an ever exciting industry.“

Chris De Smet
Chairman of the second conference day

Remarks on Conference Day 3 by Annich McIntosh, Chief Editor, C&M Publications

As managing editor of C&M Publications, Annich McIntosh has a high profile within the card, marketing and financial business sectors. She is a frequent speaker and chair at major industry conferences. Annich is a judge of a number of industry awards and is invited to attend all the relevant major conferences worldwide. She has direct access to all the leading players. Annich is a daily newspaper trained journalist, having worked in various capacities, including features editor before moving on to the focussed world of international business titles. About the C&M Publications titles: Card World is a global publication supporting both the issuing and acquiring communities. As well as cards, the remit covers all transaction types, including mobile and electronic payment. All business sectors including identity, transit and loyalty are covered, together with regulation and legal issues, customer facing initiatives, marketing and customer insight. Card World reports on all the major emerging technologies and the innovative companies leading the field. Card World is published 11 times a year, and is supported with an online daily news and feature service at Fraud Watch, the newsletter reporting on financial fraud and anti-money laundering initiatives, online security and compliance can be found at: Loyalty Magazine, the online resource for those involved in customer insight and retention issues can be found at


"It has been a great day. There is obviously confusion there have been probably more questions raised than answered. At least you know what the questions are now.

All we got to do is figure out how to find a way through the maze and make some money. At least by seeing the presentations over the last 3 days in a core key conference, that you know the contact and you know who to get in touch for help and advice. Thank you four your company, I enjoyed it enormously. Thank you to the organizers. And I will see you all again next year."

Alex Rolfe
Chairman of the third conference day


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