We lost a lot of money when focusing our efforts on our industry association: we should have used all the possible tools, but unfortunately we have not…
Card & Pay is a leader in electronic payments. Subsidiary of a Japanese conglomerate and employing 60 employees, its turnover in France keeps growing. Its reputation is excellent, and the company is a Board member of the payments industry trade association (FPIP).
At some point, the European Commission publishes a draft regulation concerning the payments sector. One of the 36 proposed measures (measure # 28) is financialy very harmful for Card & Pay: if voted, it would force incumbents to get the newly developed technologies available to new entrants, and any infringement would be subject to fines. The European authorities want to accelerate innovation and increase competition, to the benefits of end consumers.
In order to develop and validate a joint response, FPIP members gather and engage in a discussion on each of the 36 draft EU measures . Card & Pay openly speaks against measure # 28. It is nevertheless alone, not to say isolated. In fact, getting an agreement amongts all members on all the articles of the draft European regulation is very delicate. Everyone does want to defend first its own interests, under the guise of public interest. Everything is subject to negotiation, compromise and bargaining. Despite all this, Card & Pay still considers it can convince other members and rally them to its cause. Moreover, the company still does not want to act alone and outside the sectorial association It is of the opinion that its interests will be better represented (and defended) by a collective organization and by its own network. Intervening alone would be like trying to kill a mosquito with a sword… Some time later, Card & Pay is less alone in FPIP, but measure # 28 is still not the priority of the majority. And when the final text is drafted and put to the vote, it does not even appear in the wording!
Meanwhile, encouraged and convinced by the Commission, the European Parliament and Member States expressed their support, with a few nuances. A vote is to be organised very shortly. It is now impossible for Card & Pay to intervene: it is too late since all public decision-makers have validated their choice(s). Any attempt to influence, even at the very last minute, would be doomed to failure. Card & Pay did not want to rely on a collective structure. It refused to act and defend its own interests alone. Yet, in fact and despite its good image, no network nor any organization has been willing to share its concerns and defend them together. The arguments it put forward were too personal, not horizontal enough. As for its network, it turned out that its contacts (elected officials or civil servants) had nearly changed function, role and sector. None could really have helped the company.
Card & Pay has unfortunately overestimated the political weight of its professional federation. It will therefore be obliged to get its technologies available to new players, i.e. to its its direct competitors. They will profit from millions of euros of investments without having paid them ! And Card & Pay will be unable to benefit from its own innovations as much as it would have liked. Its forecast result will be revised downwards, as will its growth.
The company now knows that dealing and influencing policy-makers through a collective structure or a network does not prevent the use of a complementary very relevant and effective tool : an individual approach, with experts.