Rudolf Booker, founder and Chief Executive Officer of international payment solutions provider and merchant acquirer Payvision, has developed a reputation over the past decade for building and expanding the company around his employees.
Payvision has offices in Amsterdam, Madrid, Singapore and New York. And Booker, who thrives on personal attention, travels extensively to manage the relationships he has developed since he started the company in 2001.
Because of his intense and hectic schedule, Booker found that having trusted executives and resellers working in regions where they are both comfortable and happy has been the foundation of the com-pany's consistent growth and continued success.
He believes that if you don't feel good about the company and employers you work for, you can't sell or market any product or service to anyone.
"He is a brilliant man who was smart enough to figure out on a global basis what every aspect of international acquiring was all about faster than anybody else understood it," said Carrie Bardeen Hometh, Payvision's Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "Secondly, and just as important, he not only chose some of the best people that I have ever come across in the industry, but he goes out of his way to accommodate their needs.
"For example, our technology is all managed out of Madrid, and our chief technology officer - who is the best in the business - and not from Spain - asked to live there, so that's exactly what Rudolf did. He does those kinds of things all the time. He finds people he trusts and develops the company's goals and strategies around them."
For Booker, the desire to provide a nurturing, inspiring environment for his executives, staff and clients applies equally to his resellers and partners. It is critical to him that they feel supported in every aspect of the payment process, from initializing sales leads and boarding merchants to providing the appropriate products and services and maintaining those relationships year after year.
"We got a visit from Rudolf, and he is a mover and a shaker that's for sure," said Randy Ridings, Vice President of Sales for e-commerce solutions provider Plug'n Pay Technologies. "When we initiated the original conversation back in 2006, he went out of his way on a visit to New York to make the drive out to Central Long Island to visit us.
"And an example of just how technically sophisticated they are, Rudolf and his crew integrated platforms with us and were up and running within a week - and that process usually takes 30 to 90 days. We have a lot of referral partners; some are responsive, some aren't - but Payvision has been great."
Merchant e-Solutions partnered with Payvision two-and-a-half years ago to expand its international operations. According to Kevin Gallagher, Merchant e-Solution's General Manager, E-commerce, it was a combination of factors that led to their partnership.
"We had a lot of merchants that were going international, so we looked for a partner that could seamlessly help our merchants process international currencies or get them set up to accept payments in different countries," Gallagher said. "Rudolf and his team were personable and experienced, but underneath that, the technology they built was very sound and robust. Plus, they really had the great connections we were looking for - and that's what sparked our interest."
Payvision specializes in multicurrency processing for all types of card not present (CNP) transactions, which Hometh regards as the company's number one "sweet spot." She added that its secondary sweet spot is large merchants who are globalizing their businesses. Payvision boasts the ability to process 164 currencies, though most merchants use an average of 14, which comprise about 85 percent of CNP transactions worldwide.
In addition to multicurrency processing, Payvision offers credit, debit, gift, loyalty and stored-value card processing, MO/TO, secure billing, reporting and underwriting, CNP chargeback remediation and uninterrupted customer service, Hometh noted.
The company has over 280 ISOs and resellers in 40 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and India, and countries within the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and Central and South America.
"There are so many challenges to giving merchants the ability to sell in a variety of currencies, and that's why only a handful of companies do what we do," Hometh said. "What is even more difficult is doing what's called domestic global acquiring. That's where you can offer domestic interchange - rates that are most attractive to international merchants - and processing in as many countries as possible worldwide.
"Our goal is to get as many BINs [bank identification numbers], ISOs and resellers in the world to offer the best domestic interchange for our merchants. For example, Japanese merchants are better off to process inter-regionally because interchange is higher in Japan than many other countries. So our area of specialty is where to switch a transaction to get the best interchange rate possible for each merchant, depending on their individual and unique requirements."
To facilitate this process Payvision needs to be licensed with the card brands in the regions where it conducts business. Hometh said that, as a global acquirer and not a bank, the company requires sponsoring members who are licensed to process and settle transactions in their home regions or countries. The company outsources its transaction processing to fulfill the myriad governmental regulatory and security compliance mandates.
"The BIN table routes the transactions to the appropriate issuing bank for credit approval and final settlement," Hometh said. "This allows us to board merchants in regions or countries and provide domestic or intraregional interchange pricing, depending on what benefits that merchant the most."
Hometh believes Payvision has done well in the current economy due to the fact that CNP, MO/TO and e-commerce sales are suffering, and merchants are looking for any value-added products and services that can increase their bottom lines.
Additionally, the company has no direct sales force and works exclusively with resellers worldwide, enabling it to offer their services in any verticals or market segments those ISOs and resellers specialize in.
"Other than translating a Web site, it's a very natural thing to provide the services that can enable customers to purchase anything online in the currency of their choosing," Hometh said. "To me, that makes the most sense. I mean, how many Americans do you know who prefer to buy something online with anything other than the dollar? It's pretty much the same cultural mindset in every other region as well.
"But in order to do that you have to be able to work with a combination of technologies and banks all over the world, as well as provide unparalleled customer service and support. And that's not just to handle credit card processing; you have to know the country-specific payments that consumers like to use. And by leveraging that technology, all of a sudden you have enabled your merchants' Web sites to reach a wider audience and exponentially increased sales potential."
Payvision plans to begin beta tesing brick-and-mortar merchant processing in November or December 2009; it has been certified to process any merchant on any platform owned by First Data Corp. If this testing goes well, Payvision intends to expand its brick-and-mortar sector beyond the United States in the third quarter of 2010. "This could really open up the market for our ISOs and resellers worldwide," Hometh said. "It will enable us to participate in whatever verticals or markets they're in, whether that's travel and hospitality, entertainment or restaurants. And of course, just like our business model in the virtual world, we'll be there to help them close any large or complex merchants."
Before joining Payvision in 2004, Hometh didn't realize how important cultural differences between countries are. In 1989, she worked for a British firm. Because the United States and Britain share a language, she assumed business was conducted similarly. She soon learned this was not true.
"International relations have a steep learning curve," she said. "So the next firm I worked for - an Israeli firm - I was much more ready because I studied the culture, how they conducted business, how they communicated and how they wrote e-mails.
"That experience helped me succeed working for an international firm. I don't know that I would have been as successful as I have been at Payvision without that. And of course, Rudolf constantly reinforces the value of leaving room for those differences when we conduct business."
Payvision assists its ISOs not only in payment processing sales and marketing, but with education and training as well. Hometh noted that most ISOs don't know very much about global acquiring and international transactions, so the company conducts frequent training sessions.
"My colleagues and I make ourselves available all the time to train and educate our ISOs on dealing with international merchants and financial institutions," Hometh said. "The good news is that there is a lot of portfolio revenue potential out there because there isn't very much competition.
"We show our ISOs how they could lose a potential merchant if they can't offer a merchant identification number that has been denominated in another currency. Why not get a referral agreement with us to offer that capability to their merchants to help them get more revenue? Our job is to help them and always be there for them. We would never leave our ISOs dead in the water."
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Carrie Bardeen Hometh
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Payvision USA Office
101 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
Web site: www.payvision.com