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New Online Community Aims to Spark Conversation on Electronic Payments, Financial Services

The Payments Authority, a nonprofit supporting electronic payments, has launched B2BSynergy.org as an online meeting place for bankers, vendors and business owners.

The Payments Authority is hoping to get some conversations started.

The Troy, Mich.-based nonprofit has taken to online community building as a means to both further its mission to increase use and awareness of electronic payments made through the Automated Clearing House as well as connect, bankers, vendors and merchants through relevant conversation. The Payments Authority sees its new social site, B2BSynergy.org, as a means to help spark those conversations.

"We genuinely want it to be a safe zone where people can have some great dialog about process improvement or their interpretation to a regulation or whatever," says Amy Smith, president and CEO of The Payments Authority.

The group announced the concept of building an online community last October and quickly rallied to get the website up and running. Now live, B2B synergy has more than 7,000 registered users coming from banks, credit unions, vendors and businesses, all of which are discussing various topics relevant to electronic payments and the financial services industry as a whole.

"It’s amazing to see other people from other institutions — banks and credit unions, credit unions and community banks — all weighing in and sharing best practices," Smith says.

She believes it is the first social network dedicated solely to payments and financial services. Now that there is a growing community of participants, The Payments Authority is trying to make the new community sticky - that is, now that people are signed up, the next step is to keep them coming back.

"We’re working on that pretty heavily," Smith says. "We’re trying to get people to feel like this is something they’re dialing into on a daily basis."

Among the things B2BSynergy.org is offering in addition to message boards and community discussions are white papers, case studies and other educational material. It's free to sign up, and users can adjust settings to get notified on relevant discussions based on interest. It offers additional functionality such as saving contacts and blogging as well.

"We want everyone in here and we want them talking, creating user groups and communities of their own," Smith adds. "What we’ve built can support that, and we believe it to be a missing link that is valuable to the industry moving forward."

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