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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Data, PAI aid in Houston recovery

Residents of Florida and nearby states at risk of being hit when Hurricane Irma makes landfall this weekend are taking all possible precautions. Meanwhile, people in Houston and surrounding areas are in the beginning stages of recovery from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the region last week. Members of GS Online's MLS Forum doing business in Texas observed that aid is flowing into the state, and First Data Corp. and Payment Alliance International are among the companies involved.

"It's been shocking seeing the areas that flooded ‒ four feet of water in front of my home when it never flooded before," stated MLS Forum member Desdinova, who is located in the ravaged area. "Almost everyone who has been damaged is in the 'replace drywall' stage. They are wanting to talk, and that's all you can ask for."

Alx Patel, Partner and President of Strategic Alliance at Houston-based Genesis Merchant solutions, was spared the flood's wrath. "It was a crazy five days here in Houston; been here pretty much all my life and never seen it flood this way," he told members of the MLS Forum. "Houston is resilient and was proud to see all walks of life come together to help each other. Our office was fortunate enough to not flood, but some of my staff's homes did flood, and many tens of thousands are displaced at this moment. Houston and the surrounding areas will rebuild, and the support we have gotten from outside is amazing."

First Data on the ground

First Data's contribution to recovery efforts is a program launched Sept. 2, 2017, to deliver Clover Go mobile credit and debit card readers free of charge to thousands of business owners impacted by Hurricane Harvey. "The initiative, designed to help the local economy get back on its feet, includes free device installatin and discounted pricing, in addition to the free Clover Go mobile readers," the company stated. "Whether a business needs to replace a payment device damaged in the storm, or set up shop in a temporary location with a mobile payment reader, we hope that our efforts can help impacted businesses get up and running quickly."

First Data noted that Clover Go is an EMV-enabled, mobile card reader that plugs into an iOS or Android tablet or smartphone and works with a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, allowing business owners to accept secure payments anywhere. "The rechargeable battery-powered Clover Go, which fits inside the palm of a hand, allows credit or debit card payments through traditional swipes, dips, and touch transactions such as Apple Pay," the company said.

PAI enables digital donations

To assist victims of Hurrican Harvey, PAI enabled the Digital Donations charitable contribution program on its nationwide network of more than 75,000 ATMs. At participating ATMs, people can make donations with credit and debit cards without having to obtain cash or conduct other ATM-initiated activities, according to the company.

"PAI's fleet of owned and managed retail ATMs can be found across the country in convenience and grocery stores, restaurants and taverns, bowling alleys, hotels and more," PAI said, adding that it is encouraging its market partners and direct customers to participate in this philanthropic effort.

"ATMs aren't just for withdrawls anymore," the company further noted. "The Digital Donations program enhances ATM value by allowing consumers to contribute to such essential and worthy causes … all while frequenting their favorite businesses and conducting daily life."

Damages 'off the charts'

First Data representatives began staffing a command center at the JW Marriott on 5150 Westheimer Rd., in Houston on Sept. 3. In addition to offering free Clover Go devices to new and clients and current clients whose equipment was destroyed in the storm, new clients will have no setup fees and no minimum monthly fee for six months. The company instructed business owners unable to pick up devices at the Marriot to visit www.FirstData.com./HurricaneHarveyRelief or call a toll-free hotline at 1-844-882-2438.

"The lessons of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy remind us that one of the most crucial steps toward recovery is to help small business owners open their doors and start serving their customers," said Frank Bisignano, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Data. "Whether a business needs to replace a payment device damaged in the storm, or set up shop in a temporary location with a mobile payment reader, we hope that our efforts can help impacted businesses get up and running quickly."

"Thankfully, the loss of life was way below estimates, but the loss of homes/businesses and infrastructure will be off the charts," stated Texas-based MLS Forum member TheCreditCardMan, whose home and business were far from Hurricane Harvey's reach. "It will take a long time to return to normal. Houston was the major destination for Katrina relocations. Could you imagine? 'Here we go again.'" end of article

Editor's Note:

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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