Merchants often phone technical support offices seeking answers to problems with POS terminals or defective card readers. These calls frequently diverge into other problem areas for merchants – why a service doesn't do this or that. It is actually free advice merchants are doling out to service providers. Such advice, if acted upon, just might improve systems and products. But how many technical support reps actually hear what merchants are saying?
Hugh Bursi, Director of Marketing at On-line Strategies Inc., believes OLS has listened. Though the software and systems company's original vision was to provide strategic consulting and support, "over time customers began to ask us to create a new product for the market, and we started working on it," Bursi said.
In 2007, after three years of research, development and testing, OLS answered customer demand when it launched its current generation payment solution product, the payment transaction engine called OLS.Switch.
"Most of the [payments technology] that's available today is 10 to 15 years old, if not older, and we started out with a whole new concept and developed a completely different kind of solution for the market with an eye on some of the problems," Bursi said. "We were focused on availability and performance and total cost to the owners."
According to Bursi, the core people at OLS have experience in building payment solution products. Terry Richards, founder, President and Chief Executive Officer at OLS, has been involved with growth companies in the payments technology space for over 30 years. Andy Orrock, OLS's Chief Technology Officer, has been in the industry for at least 25 years. Hugh Bursi has been in the business for thirty years. Randy San Nicolas has over 10 years experience in the issuing and acquiring ISO space.
"So we knew the mistakes to avoid; we knew the things that we needed to do to build a better product," Bursi said.
OLS prides itself on doing its own research and development to problem solving. "We were also able to offer a lot of other things besides fixing software bugs," Bursi said. "We could help them with new products, new additions to the software, some strategic planning, that sort of thing."
OLS.Switch can replace current payment system engines, work with existing ones to reduce development costs or help providers transition from outsourced to in-house solutions. The OLS.Switch uses a business process scripting capability – a Java programming language- and XML-based framework – which makes it highly adaptable.
New services can be speedily added without disrupting the existing payment solution. "It adapts very quickly," he said. "It used to take months to get a new application or a new gateway or a new device up, and it takes us weeks, perhaps days."
OLS's system is able to process all non-cash transactions including credit, debit, stored value, EBT, check authorization, pharmacy, government property tax payments, traffic fines, parking tickets, transit fares and so forth. OLS also performs non-traditional transaction types with equal agility.
OLS.Switch is designed to support "all non-cash transaction types," Bursi said. "It can be a credit card payment, debit card, all the normal stuff, but it will also do things like flexible spending account and health savings account payments."
For one of its customers in Kentucky, OLS performs what is called a meth-check. Kentucky, along with many other states, is struggling with a methamphetamine epidemic. When illegal drug makers started manufacturing meth using over-the-counter decongestants, state agencies began limiting the amount of decongestants even law abiding citizens could purchase in pharmacies.
When customers buy decongestants for such things as colds or allergies, a state-issued ID is validated to check how many decongestants they have purchased recently – not just in local pharmacies, but across the state. For this nonpayment function, OLS's switch connects pharmacies to statewide databases that compile this information.
OLS.Host is the Dallas-based company's managed service payment model, which resembles software as a service or application service provider environments. OLS.Host can be adapted to individual business needs to provide the benefits of in-house solutions without businesses having to struggle with Internet technology concerns.
"We have some clients that either want to get the payment processing out of their data center or they're outsourced right now and they want more control," Bursi said. "But they don't want to bring it into their data center. So we're going to be their data center for payments. That's what OLS.host is all about. Basically, clients outsource their payments processing to us, but we charge a flat monthly management fee, not a per transaction charge." OLS.Host can also provide medium to large ISOs a means to expand their businesses by becoming third party processors.
But OLS hasn't forgotten its original mission. It continues to offer consulting services in support of businesses' project implementations or ongoing payment processing needs. Aside from customers lost through consolidations, OLS claims a 100 percent customer retention – attributed to the company's 24x7x365 mentality, Bursi said.
Given the state of the economy, OLS is sensitive to the protective mindset of businesses. "People are a little hesitant to do anything," Bursi said. "Even though we feel like we can save people money over what they're spending today."
Bursi recognizes merchants are a little slower to make decisions than in days past. "They're still very interested in finding a better solution to their payment processing and finding new products and services to increase their revenue," he said. "They've either got to cut expense, which we can do, or increase their revenues, which we can do. So, we feel we're about as well positioned as we can be."
Having taken notice of the growth in international markets, OLS is branching out with its services and gaining traction with aggressive growth strategies for payment systems infrastructure.
"We can go virtually anywhere," Bursi said. "We can combine payment applications with nonpayment applications. We can do a two-step payment process. There's really no limit to what we can do because the business logic is pliable."
The flexible, scalable nature of OLS's software allows it to process payments in a wide range of scenarios – from direct connect retailers, third party processors, and governmental organizations in North and South America .
When OLS was founded, it was all about customer service and delivery of reliable solutions. That same mindset exists today.
Looking forward, he commented, "The mobile payments space is still in its infancy. How much will people adapt to it? How secure can it be? There's got to be new technology to provide foundational infrastructure to support it."
Bursi believes OLS can adapt to mobile payments. "A combination of industry expertise and superior technology differentiates OLS from other payment technology providers," he said. "Every day we see a new kind of market we can get into because of the flexibility of our product."
Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Director of Marketing
7920 Beltline Rd., Suite 540
Dallas, Texas 75254
Phone: 214-466-1000 or 866-237-4900
Web site: www.olsdallas.com