TRANSACT 23 disrupts traditional trade show model, raising the bar for event planners
By Marla Ellerman
As you know, I’ve been attending, planning and staging live and virtual events for over 20 years but have never seen anything quite like TRANSACT 23, the Electronic Transactions Association’s annual convention and expo, held April 24-26, 2023, at the Georgia World Conference Center in downtown Atlanta.
If you ask what was different about this year’s show, I’d have to say everything. Like so many others, I was dazzled by the show’s glamor, efficiency and scale and the way everything fit into one exhibit hall. And I can tell you, none of this is easy to do.
Having over 3,000 attendees, 150 speakers, 130 exhibitors, 800 companies and 1,800 decision-makers together in a single exhibit hall enabled me to catch up with hundreds of partners, colleagues and friends. ETA kept its favorite traditions, like the annual golf outing, Visa’s President’s Dinner and the industry party with amazing live country music. And the afterparties, like Netevia’s roaring twenties event, kept us dancing into the wee hours.
Ruston Miles, serial entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Payfactory, has attended ETA’s conferences for a decade and said the events are a great way for attendees to meet prospects, partners and vendors and learn more about the payments industry.
“I’m pleased to see that as software has entered payments and regulators have come on the scene, ETA’s TRANSACT has embraced these trends by welcoming ISVs and payment facilitators with ISV Village and providing excellent panel content on relevant topics from industry experts,” he said. “For example, the panel I spoke on was about tokenization and was standing room only. As founder of Bluefin, I love tokens, but I realize for some it’s not the most exciting topic. It was refreshing to see that attendees were there to learn about all aspects of payments innovation, even payment security.”
All together now
Sean Wilson, Senior Leader, PayFac Management at Worldpay, was happy with the exhibit hall’s layout and format. The four stages at opposite corners and main stage in the back of the exhibit hall optimized traffic flow, he said, making it easy to mix live demos with 20-minute panel and keynote presentations.
“TRANSACT was a great opportunity to meet with so many partners in one place,” he said. “It was really exciting to hear the depth in dialogue around payment facilitation and embedded payments.”
Chris Petersen, Senior Vice President, Partnerships & Core Verticals, Paysafe, agreed TRANSACT was well planned, stating it was a pleasure to engage with so many payments industry leaders.
“The ETA’s TRANSACT 2023 did not disappoint this year in Atlanta!” he said. “We had a terrific show and strong engagement with many of Paysafe’s valued ISVs, ISOs, merchants, and partners, as well as very informative educational sessions.”
Petersen went on to say that Afshin Yazdian, the President of Merchant Solutions at Paysafe, took part in a panel discussion, “New Payment Methods Disrupting the Way Merchants Get Paid,” alongside other payment industry leaders. The session was well received, he noted, and insightful to its audience.
Bill Nichols, President, Americas Region at Datecs, agreed that ETA’s TRANSACT has evolved alongside the ever-expanding digital commerce ecosystem while staying on point and on brand.
“ETA brought payments to the forefront once again,” he said. “As the payments business continues to evolve, custom solutions are replacing off-the-shelf products and services, and this is also our primary focus at Datecs.
A true showstopper
There was so much great content at this show and a lot of it ran concurrently, which created tough choices for attendees but also showed us how much is going on in our industry. MPC media partner Dale Laszig, CEO at DSL Direct and Senior Staff Writer at The Green Sheet, said the simultaneous tracks reminded her of multilayered digital commerce.
“Most of the thought leaders I’ve been interviewing are also speaking here at the show, so it’s keeping me running but in a good way,” she said, pointing out that even the TRANSACT tagline is multilayered. “Connecting at the speed of payments; business at the speed of payments; insights at the speed of payments; for most of us, that’s a typical day at the office.”
Marty McMullian, Director of Sales, Valor Paytech, told me ETA always does events well but this year’s was a true showstopper, saying, “Whether you’ve attended earlier TRANSACTs or predecessor ETA expos in places like Baltimore, New Orleans, or even Hawaii, the industry conversations and critical discussions at TRANSACT 23 were some of the best.”
Marty went on to say that like our industry, ETA events continue to change due to both internal and external forces. “This year, we had great speakers and engaging panels helping us sort through these issues,” he added. “The networking was compelling, allowing us to explore a larger range of opinions and experiences.”
Scott Goldthwaite, president, Aliaswire, agreed TRANSACT 23 was one for the record books. “The energy, new innovations and large attendance at this year’s Transact conference proves that Atlanta is the hub of the electronic payments industry. With many new exhibitors and attendees, it’s great to see the payments industry continue to evolve and grow.”
Editor’s Note: This is just the first of many articles in Modern Marketing and Technology about the Electronic Transactions Association and its annual conference, TRANSACT. If you would like to share your views and experiences of this show, we would love to hear from you. Reach out to me directly at [email protected]