CardForum 2011: The Industry Is Back

by Ken Paterson 0

The casually-dressed hotel guest had itright; “So you’re attending that big credit card conference?” (Mysuit and tie were a dead giveaway). Yes, this year it was actuallya big conference, especially in contrast to the past two years whenthe card industry was loath to spend money on sending conferees, orto talking much about business conditions for that matter. At leastby the indicator of attendance, the industry is back.

That much is good news, but back to what? The list of industryissues remains challenging: ongoing compliance issues, Durbin onthe debit side, PCI, EMV, and card fraud (a perennial favorite) toname a few. And then there is the perplexing subtext of weakconsumer credit demand, on which I have frequently commented, whichremains a challenge to all credit card issuers. When issuers areready to open the credit taps, will consumers respond? The creditside of the business has a much smaller base of accounts than itdid during CardForum 2008.

And of course we all figured we would know the bottom line fordebit by CardForum 2011, based on the Federal Reserve’s April rulesdeadline under the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. Well, wewill surely know the bottom line by CardForum 2012. Won’t we?

The good news is that the payments industry is resilient andadaptable. And it has had more than its share of hurdles during thelast two years for which to adapt. It’s an ongoing stream ofregulatory, economic, legal, and competitive challenges; thankfullyit’s still flowing in 2011.