Since 1992, U.S. Merchant Systems LLC has served the merchant service needs of more than 100,000 business clients. According to the company, over half those clients were signed through its successful partner relationship program. In addition, its three co-founders remain with the company today: Stuart "Stu" Rosenbaum as Chief Executive Officer, Richard "Rusty" Fenn II as Chief Operating Officer and Larry Cohn as Chairman of the Board.
From the beginning, USMS has focused on reaching niche markets by partnering with established companies to deliver highly targeted products and services that extend beyond traditional credit and debit card processing. "We offer a lot of other services like consumer financing, cash advances and different types of POS systems that work for specific niche markets," said Andy Nern, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development for USMS.
The company offers business solutions in 18 vertical market categories it defines as follows: retail, restaurant, fast food and delivery, grocery, automotive, fuel, golf, hospitality, health care, mobile, Internet, services, high risk, new business, business-to-business, nonprofit, political campaigns, and government.
Also available within the USMS merchant suite are such options as business accounting and payroll services, ATM solutions, electronic benefit transfer services, business financing, gift and loyalty card programs, and check acceptance.
While predominantly focused on U.S.-based merchants, the company does venture into other global regions based on individual USMS agent preferences. "We do serve some international clients," Nern said. "It's not our main focus. Our big focus is still domestic, but we do have relationships for Canadian processing, as well as for Asia and Europe."
With an increasing number of government agencies expected to switch from paper-based check payments to electronic payments to streamline costs and improve collections efficiency, experts project long-term sustained growth in this sector for businesses that can deliver solutions to facilitate this transition. Recognizing this opportunity, USMS formed a division dedicated to the government sector; the company noted that its tech team supports system integrations from start to finish.
"We have a division of our company called GovTeller," Nern said. "It's an online and over-the-counter payments platform for government agencies and municipalities." He said local and state government offices that have implemented the GovTeller platform are now accepting credit, PIN debit, automated clearing house and e-check payments for everything from property taxes, marriage licenses and parking tickets to other government-related payments.
According to Nern, there is no cost to government for deployment and use of the GovTeller payment platform, which is a key advantage since most agencies aren't budgeted to pay the associated transaction fees. Instead, processing costs are borne by cardholders who opt in to use the service to make payments. The GovTeller program automatically calculates a predetermined consumer convenience fee, which is added to the payment total.
"It's a really great opportunity for ISOs that are looking for a different market to tap into," Nern said. "This one has a slightly longer sales cycle, but it's definitely profitable, and it's kind of a fun one to get into." He added that in his experience working with government clients, attrition tends to be extremely low.
Other features of GovTeller include multichannel payment acceptance points: online, in-person or via phone for most types of payment.
The system also integrates with a variety of third-party government service providers. And, in terms of protecting cardholder data, GovTeller is Level 1 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant, USMS reported.
For added convenience, GovTeller features real-time transaction and deposit reporting to accommodate account reconciliation, which eliminates the need for end-of-day batch functions. Online copies of all receipts dating back 12 months are maintained in real-time as well. USMS offers government agencies flexibility in configuration of POS systems to match office needs.
Another vertical market in which USMS sees significant potential for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) is the golf industry. According to the National Golf Foundation, as of Jan. 1, 2013, there were 15,619 golf facilities operating in the United States, of which 11,683 were public courses open to the more than 25 million Americans who play golf.
According to USMS, due to the ongoing popularity of golf, the ability to build relationships within this community remains strong, whether one is targeting a private course or a small pro-shop.
To accommodate the golf industry, USMS formed a division called GolfTranz, which offers products and services catering to golf, namely payment processing, gift and loyalty cards, ATM installations and recurring billing systems to manage golf memberships.
USMS also serves the political, business and nonprofit fundraiser spectrum. In partnership with DonationSafe, USMS developed a payment solution that allows individuals and groups to accept online donations in what the company describes as a "secure, seamless and hassle free manner."
USMS has also developed programs for processing fuel service pay-at-the-pump and fleet card transactions, as well as systems for businesses in high-profile industries. For example, its POS system for restaurants features wireless pay-at-the table terminals, marketing and employee time clock management tools, and extensive reporting capabilities, USMS said.
Whatever the niche may be, USMS endeavors to provide strong support to MLSs. "We really try to give our agents any type of service that's going to help their merchants, even if that means going out and finding a new vendor to help that market," Nern said.
"We are always keeping an open umbrella for that." And the reason is simple. MLSs can help merchants expand their businesses in ways merchants may not have considered or thought possible.
USMS prides itself on its MLS training program. Nern stated during an interview with The Green Sheet that the company was in the final stage of redeveloping its core training program and plans to make the program accessible to USMS agents online soon. "We're working really hard on redoing all of our training," Nern said. "It's going to be all virtual."
He noted that USMS is also focusing on new equipment sales to help merchants comply with major card brand mandates for U.S. migration to Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) chip-enabled terminals. At this point, some merchants have already deployed the newer EMV-enabled POS systems, but many apparently have yet to do so.
"We've got all the VeriFone and Equinox terminals ready to launch, and we're beginning to sell those," Nern said.
"The opportunity to upgrade systems, sell new equipment and get leasing for these more expensive terminals is going to be a great opportunity, not only for the guy getting started in this industry, but for the guy that has a big book of business or knows a lot of people."
To help MLSs build their sales pipelines, USMS offers additional support through its telemarketing lead development team. "We have a floor full of telemarketers here that can help get them some leads," Nern said.
In addition to free sales leads, USMS' national sales agent program offers revenue share and bonus opportunities with monthly residual income for the lifetime of each account, free equipment options, statement analysis tools, merchant support, one-to-one sales support and weekly training, as needed.
Its partner program is designed for boarding larger groups, such as member-based organizations. Referrals made through its affiliate program present another revenue-stream opportunity.
"We're not a small mom-and-pop shop, but we're also not a huge Fortune 500 company," Nern said. "We're kind of in the middle, and that gives us a really unique opportunity to help people looking to build an office, to grow and really take advantage of a niche market."
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