2017 was a great year for IRTA and UC. On behalf of the entire Global Board of Directors thank you for you continued commitment to IRTA and increased trading with UC. We saw a record year of trading with UC of 14,482,584 in trade volume which is a massive 1,534,790 (11%) increase over the previous year. This has only been possible through your active trading and the tireless work of our UC Trade Broker Patty Weston, well done to everyone. Let’s keep up the trend and work on an even bigger 2018.
It is my privilege to work with our passionate and dedicated President & CEO Ron Whitney. Ron is always working to make things better for all of our members and our industry. IRTA has helped our members and the entire industry over the past year on a number of key issues and initiatives. Let me break them down for you in the three key areas of IRTA’s focus.
Education – In February 2017 we released an Advisory Memo titled, “Proper Reporting of Assets and Liabilities of the Managing Exchange vs. the Exchange Members & IRS 1099 Reporting Requirements Regarding Client/Member Bad Debt Trade Accounts” Let me say that when you truly understand the content of this memo it will help your exchange as you deal with these issues. If you have not read all of the IRTA advisory memos you are missing out on critical information that could help protect your business, they are available on the IRTA Website.
Ron Whitney met with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) in Washington D.C. and in conjunction with IRTA Vice-Chairman Annette Riggs submitted an initial report titled, “Review of Barter Industry Sectors & Barter Case Studies of Agricultural and Complementary Currency Sectors.” This is just the start of a potential project where IRTA will act in a consulting role to Islamic countries as they seek to find new ways to stimulate their economies.
Advocacy – IRTA assisted both IRTA-member and non-IRTA member exchanges to obtain full abatements of proposed cash civil penalties related to IRS non-matching TIN matters. If you haven’t yet had a penalty notification from the IRS on non-matching TIN numbers then you are fortunate, but many of us have had to deal with, and continue to deal with this issue. Ron had a particular case this year where the abatement request was denied to one of our members, and through Ron’s connections and relationship with the IRS was able to get a stay placed on the civil penalty and the case re-opened – a favorable abatement decision is expected shortly. This particular case could have set a dangerous precedent/trend for the industry, but that risk has now been eliminated, thanks to the great work of IRTA.
IRTA also helped IRTA-member and non-member exchanges to retain their merchant services providers, by successfully educating the merchant service providers on the fact that trade dollars are not cryptocurrencies and trade exchanges are not money transmitters. This is advocacy, education and support in action. Can you imagine not being able to have a credit card processor, or even worse not being able to have a bank account because financial institutions simply do not understand our industry. IRTA is helping all of us by being the industry voice on matters that affect our members and the industry.
Support – We have implemented new communication platforms in 2017 for our members to allow better interaction, collaboration and communication. IRTA implemented Microsoft Yammer to provide a platform for communication and collaboration and Zoom video conferencing for Board and Committee meetings. If you are not connected with the IRTA members group in Yammer than let me encourage you to reach out to Ron and get connected.
We ran a very successful annual convention in Cancun Mexico in September. It provided opportunities for our members to grow through education and support along with building strong relationships with all members. Make a point to be at the IRTA Convention 2018, I look forward to meeting you there.
As we move in to 2018 the central role that IRTA plays in our industry becomes more and more important. As an industry we need to work together to provide an environment that ensures our industry is protected from any threats, particularly regulatory threats. As Chairman of IRTA it is my goal and my heartfelt desire that we come together as one industry with one voice of advocacy. I invite all reciprocal trade exchanges globally to join us so that we may be united in our desire to operate our businesses free of any cumbersome burdens that could otherwise slow or stop our growth as an industry.
I trust that 2018 is going to be a great year for you as you grow your membership and trade volume to new levels.
Best wishes for success in the New Year!
IRTA Chairman of the Board