July 12, 2010

End-of-year launch for Canadian Acquirers Association

By Robin Arnfield, News Editor

The Canadian Acquirers Association, representing non-bank members of the acquiring industry, is on track for an end-of-year launch, according to Adam Atlas, the driving force behind the Association.

Atlas is a Montreal, Québec-based lawyer, who specializes in payment industry contracts and is licensed to practice in both New York State and Québec. His vision of a Canadian Acquirers Association is based on the thriving regional acquirers associations that operate in the U.S.

“The associations have an important educational and networking role,” Atlas tells Payments Business. “They meet at least once a year at well-attended trade shows and they count amongst their members a few hundred ISOs (Independent Service Organizations) and a few dozen processors, as well as vendors and independent agents.”

The payment landscape is changing in Canada, with a growing role for ISO’s, followed by processors and independent agents, says Atlas. The list of new payment entrepreneurs also includes e-Wallet suppliers, cheque processors, micro-payment providers, mobile payment providers, and financial information aggregators.

“These newer entrants into the market are looking for ways to increase their footprint, but they face fierce competition from the banks that stand to lose transaction revenues,” Atlas says.

A large number of the new entrants are either affiliates of U.S.-based companies or have existing contacts with U.S.-based companies. They are thus able to leverage their existing networks and relationships to increase their foothold in Canada.

Comparing the scene north and south of the border, Atlas says U.S. processors are much more willing to sign up new ISOs, and, when they enter Canada, they bring this willingness with them. Overall, he thinks the U.S. market is about ten years ahead of the Canadian market in encouraging entrepreneurs and setting up acquirers associations Atlas estimates.

Atlas expects the Canadian Acquirers Association to be incorporated by the end of 2010, at which point the members would seek to set up an inaugural meeting.

The association was originally launched in June 2008.


“All the interested parties are busy, but, if the U.S. model is anything to go by, this Association will be established and it will thrive,” Atlas says. However, Atlas thinks it will be some time before the Canadian Acquirers Association moves from a networking and educational forum to a forum that represents the non-bank segment of the acquiring industry.

Atlas is not receiving a payment for setting up the Canadian Acquirers Association, though he admits that the networking aspect of the work can only be good for his work. “This is my way of giving back to the industry that I work for,” he says.





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