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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Payments leader Biff Matthews retires

Payments industry veteran Biff Matthews, Chief Executive Officer at CardWare International Inc., will retire Oct. 1, 2017, following a remarkable 45-year career in payments. Matthews founded CardWare in 1975 and grew it into a leading hardware, software, supply logistics and call center services provider. The company will close Sept. 22, 2017.

“Retirement is welcome, while closing the company is bittersweet,” Matthews said. “My assumption is about the first of the year, my wife, Terre, will find me another job to get me out of ‘her’ house.”

Noting that payments is a relationship business, Matthews thanked partners, employees and customers for their friendship and support. The industry has recognized his numerous contributions to payments associations. Matthews, a founding member of the Electronic Transactions Association, received an ETA leadership award in April 2010 and lifetime achievement award from the Midwest Acquirers Association in July 2013.

Mentor and friend

“Biff would always think of innovative new offerings or solutions to support CardWare clients,” recalled Brad McCoy, former Director of National Sales at CardWare. “I learned a lot from him.” Matthews had encouraged McCoy to start his own repair shop, CWI Electronics Inc., and was instrumental in helping him launch the business, McCoy stated. McCoy and partner Mark Shaffer hired a few repair technicians in 2011 and rapidly grew the company beyond repair and deployment into a range of service offerings.

Kingsport, Tenn.-based CWI recently moved to new headquarters. Its OEM-trained technicians and supply-chain specialists provide repair and 24/7 support services for a range of products, including POS hardware and consumer electronics.

Words to live by

In addition to his industry accolades, Matthews is prized for his signature wit and ability to get to the heart of any trending topic, qualities he put to good use at The Green Sheet, where he has served as both a contributing writer and frequently interviewed subject matter expert. Following are some highlights from his writings found in The Green Sheet archives:

  • On the need for interoperability: “In my humble opinion, the payments industry suffers from decades-old, myopic, self-serving thinking when developing single-function payment apps just as they created single-function, gray boxes - but why? Have our industry's gurus considered why retailers migrated from simple cash registers to fully integrated systems? Or why merchants shun single-function devices or apps?” Aug. 22, 2011, issue 11:08:02, “Antiquated thinking could doom mobile payments at the POS.”

  • On reducing attrition: “Remember, you cannot manage what you do not measure and therefore do not know. By learning critical information about why merchants left, you learn to avoid merchant groups or characteristics that do not support your growth and profit. Identify former customers to survey; then ask the hard questions.” May 24, 2010, issue 10:05:02, “Stemming the attrition tide.”

  • On POS equipment: “Whatever the cost of the equipment, it is miniscule compared with the cost of business interruption. It's time we all acknowledge that reality and work to fix these correctable quality problems. The horse we all rode in on deserves nothing less.” June 25, 2007, issue 07:06:02, “Kicking the horse we all rode in on.”

  • On providing imprinters: “Would you omit sending a printer with the terminal to a new merchant? No. Would you forget to send the merchant a sticker with your company's authorization and support phone numbers? Of course not. Then why would you neglect to include an imprinter and embossed merchant identification plate? As notably stated elsewhere in The Green Sheet, it's about doing it right. Providing an imprinter is the right thing to do, the short-sightedness of others notwithstanding.” May 11, 2009, issue 09:05:01, “Protect merchants with the basics.”

Looking ahead

Matthews’ impassioned defense of the manual imprinter landed him on the front page of the Aug. 29, 2014, Wall Street Journal. In an article titled, “Will Credit-Card Breaches Give 'Knuckle Busters' a Second Crack?” reporter Robin Sidel wrote, “Biff Matthews is up to his eyeballs in knuckle busters.” As Sidel and other journalists discovered, Matthews gave an entertaining, hard-hitting interview.

He has also provided perspectives during interviews for feature articles published in The Green Sheet. Here are just two examples:

  • On hardware and software as a service: Matthews said subscription service models can help make hardware and software future-proof. “We've watched not fully compliant products rushed to market and pushed on unwary merchants," he said. “Failure to modernize electronic processing causes merchants to constantly waste money chasing technology, plus exposing them to non-compliance fees and transaction fraud.” April 11, 2016, issue 16:04:01, “ATM Industry’s high-tech second act.”

  • On payments evolution: “While the phone remains a merchant's primary support source, support has expanded dramatically,” Matthews noted. “Quality support today incorporates live chat, YouTube video and greater use of online resources. Merchants expect to receive support when they need it, and in whatever way that they want to receive it. Merchants expect instant solutions. Hardware continues to evolve at an accelerating pace.” Nov. 24, 2014, issue 14:11:02, “POS imitates life.”

Additional coverage of Matthews’ articles and interviews can be found in the search menu at www.greensheet.com. The Green Sheet joins numerous payments industry well-wishers as Matthews begins a new chapter. 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.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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