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Esprit de card

Customers are important, but employees are what make businesses run. FirstView Financial LLC is well aware of that factor. To the entire team at FirstView, it is of utmost importance to not only take care of customers, but also employees.

"We've been very sensitive to un-banked customers who have been treated poorly by banks," said Joseph Meyer, founder and Chief Executive Officer of FirstView. "Banks are coming out with similar products to make employers happy; we came out with this to take care of employees."

The company was founded in 2002 as an automated clearing house (ACH) processor. The company is a certified third party processor with MasterCard Worldwide. "We have our own platform; we are PCI compliant," Meyer said.

Employees rule

Currently, FirstView has 18 employees located in Atlanta serving all 50 states. The company has relationships with seven U.S. banks and processed more than 12 million transactions in 2006, worth more than $2.6 billion.

Meyer served as a major in the U.S. Army and has taken philosophies learned while in the military and implemented them into his company. "The one thing we always did in the Army was to make sure the soldier got paid," he said.

FirstView will do whatever it takes to make sure employees get paid, including sending checks by FedEx or wiring money orders.

"A lot of other payroll cards are churn and burn," Meyer said. "We want to be able to take it to a new employer and make them feel comfortable that their employees are in good hands. In doing this, we grow our business and our satisfied customer list."

Meyer explained that by providing service to employees, FirstView also provides service to employers. "We take the customer focus and drive it to the employee," he said. "The employer is the channel for us. The way we take care of the employer is taking care of employees."

Looks matter

What if you could offer your customers a way to treat their employees well, while saving time and money? According to FirstView, the solution is its Espree MasterCard.

Merchants can use the Espree payroll card to electronically pay employees, particularly unbanked employees. And, if an employer supports multideposit, employees can have their earnings distributed to more than one card. The card can also be used as a corporate disbursement card.

"We offer an outstanding payroll card/debit card program providing employers, payroll processors, ISOs and retail locations the ability to implement a payroll card solution for their employees with ease and convenience," Meyer said.

The Espree card is not like a typical payroll card. The gold tone of the scrolled name and logo pops out of the gray background, giving it a distinct look. So, FirstView chose its name to set it apart from other companies' cards. "We were the first in the space," Meyer said. "It's enlightening. People like having it, like holding it. It doesn't look like a payroll card. … People want a good looking card in their pocket."

That is not just conjecture. The company conducted research and found functional names for cards aren't attractive to potential cardholders. "When you are on a date, you don't want to pull out your PayNow card," Meyer said.

Convenience counts

FirstView markets and sells the Espree card through a variety of channels, including direct to employers, payroll processors, and ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs).

"We are going with ISOs now, so they can take our product out to their infrastructure," Meyer said. "Having a sales force that has a tie in a corporation is a benefit to us. They can leverage our product and our experience so they can create recurring revenue."

FirstView employees and other cardholders can use the Espree card anywhere the MasterCard brands (including Maestro and Cirrus) are accepted. It is attractive to employees, especially those without banking relationships, because no credit check or security deposit is required.

Cardholders also don't have to pay check cashing fees or wait in line to cash checks. There is also free direct deposit for those who do have banking relationships. Linda Kearns, Director of Card Sales for FirstView, said the card appeals to cardholders because it gives them access to the MasterCard brand and mainstream society. FirstView provides customer service 24/7 via its Web site. Customer service reps are also available toll-free to cardholders 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

Revenue rocks

ISOs and MLSs can earn revenue a few different ways by setting their merchants up with the Espree card program. They can charge the employer an upfront fee, or a card sign-up fee. However, Meyer said, "Some of these things we recommend they waive. We show them that they really make money over the long haul."

That is because FirstView offers a revenue share program based on the number of active cards and the transaction fees assessed to the cardholder.

For example, if an employee uses an ATM that has a transaction fee of $1.50, the MLS retains a portion of that fee. "Because we are the program manager, we receive all the interchange that the bank would get," Meyer said.

Meyer noted that since the program is Web-enabled, it is easy to manage and doesn't require a lot of work on the employer's part. "The parameters of the program depend on the specifications and requirements of our client," he said. "We offer flexibility to ensure that the program supports the needs of the ISO, as well as the cardholder."

ISOs and MLSs receive a monthly activity report via e-mail. Agents also receive training, collateral materials, contracts and support documentation.

Employers buy in

While the card can be used for any employer, Meyer and Kearns agreed it works best for manufacturing industries, businesses with a large number of vehicle drivers, security companies and retail locations with a large number of employees.

Starbucks Corp. and some McDonald's Corp. franchises currently offer the Espree card. For now, Espree is only available in the United States but FirstView is in discussions with a bank in the U.K.

So, take another look at your merchant roster. The Espree card can be a solution for those merchants whom you thought didn't need anything else. Now you can go to them with a different product, one that focuses on their internal customers.

If merchants can keep their employees happy and paid on time, like FirstView strives to implement, they will have less employee turnover, which will save time, resources and, of course, money – all while earning additional revenue for ISOs and MLSs to keep business booming. end of article

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

FirstView Financial LLC

FirstView Financial LLC

ISO/MLS contact:

Linda Kearns
Director, Card Sales
Phone: 404-806-7244 ext. 119
Fax: 770-874-2267
E-mail: lkearns@fvfn.com

Company address:
899 Powers Ferry Road
Suite 250
Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: 404-806-7244 ext. 119
Fax: 770-874-2267
Web site: www.espreecard.com

ISO/MLS benefits:

  • Experienced payroll card/debit card solution
  • Focus on client satisfaction
  • Automation of all operational elements
  • Management of multiple financial institution relationships
  • Payments industry subject matter experts

Company Profile originally appeared in
The Green Sheet Issue 071102

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