I just got back from the 2014 NAPCP Commercial Card and Payment Conference held in Indian Wells, California. This year’s event, the 15th annual conference of the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals, brought an interesting mix of speaker content representing the interests of both long-standing and new commercial card issuers. For issuers with tenure in the industry, there were sessions on global, mobile, and data integration. For new issuers, there were fundamental sessions on general program management, implementation, and best practices. Reporting, access to integrated data, and e-payables were themes cutting across the content presented for both the established and the new issuers.
The NAPCP conference also featured issuers’ showcase demos of reporting software, buyer-initiated payment processes, and single-use account platforms. Sessions led by senior-level practitioners offered particularly helpful program management advice, which was well received by other end users. The end users I spoke with at the event expressed a desire for more guidance on integrating program data with other spend data as well as advice on how to streamline all automated payment methods with a single solution. The theme of support was echoed by the issuers with whom I spoke, who are getting requests from their card clients for additional support on the consolidation of and execution of a single payment file.
Part of what makes the NAPCP conferences successful is the use of a smaller venue that enables networking, information sharing, and dialogue across issuers, processers, and end users. NAPCP draws a good crowd of senior-level professionals, in part because the organization is the only one of its kind. Some attendees expressed disappointment that the CPI group, the industry’s only other card-centric professional association, disbanded at the end of last year. With the U.S. annual conference behind, NAPCP is now focused on its upcoming Canadian and European conferences, which are likely to echo the themes heard at the U.S. conference.