When Dee Karawadra fell victim to an ISO who took him for a lot of money early in his career, he recalled a quote from Malcolm X: "Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change." Thus inspired and fueled with passion, he founded Impact PaySystem, a dramatic turning point in his career. For the past 14 years, Karawadra has served Impact PaySystem as President and Chief Executive Officer and has diligently worked to create an ISO with an outstanding reputation for providing the highest level of ethical service and best-in-class products for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs).
"We are going forward with each relationship as being a true partnership with our agents and ISOs; we are not just another ISO trying to get your deals," Dee Karawadra said. "For our partners and resellers, we will hold your hand all the way through to when you are experienced enough; then we give you all the tools you need to have a full-fledged ISO deal instead of just an agent deal."
Emily Karawadra, the company's Chief Financial Officer, knows just how competitive the credit card processing business is. "We try to differentiate ourselves by customizing every program we deploy," she said. "Our goal is to identify the merchant's needs, determine what products we have that would work best for that need and then customize a program that works for them, because what works for them might not work for their neighbor."
Impact PaySystem has grown from several hundred merchants in 2002 to thousands of merchants today. The company endeavors to stand out as a leader in the payment solutions market among competitors offering many of the same generic products. One way it differentiates itself is by focusing on niche markets and becoming an expert in the areas it knows, offering a variety of products that people need to subsist in life such as food, shelter and gas in your car.
The company also seeks to differentiate by the way it cares for its partners. Among the benefits provided to ISOs and MLSs are the following:
Impact PaySystem also keeps apace as new technology and customer expectations evolve. It will be releasing the To Go Wizard soon. It allows customers to order food from restaurants online or via iPhone or Android app. Open Table will be added as a way to reserve tables as well. The To Go Wizard will be offered free to all restaurant customers, large and small, as long as they do their transaction processing through Impact PaySystem.
"One of the things not many people have focused on is online ordering systems for smaller chain and independent restaurants, and we address this niche with To Go Wizard," Dee Karawadra said. "You could be at your office right before you leave to go home, order the food, pick it up and take it home. Or, you could be stuck in traffic, open up your app and place your order. Thirty minutes later you can pick it up."
Impact PaySystem has also landed a number of impressive merchants in the lodging market. "Everybody told us, don't go after the name brand hotels because they won't let you do the processing. Not true," he said. "You know we've got Hiltons; we've got Marriott, Quality Inn; we've got Days Inn; we've got Comfort Inn; we've got Holiday Inn, Motel 6; you name it, we've got it in our portfolio. The reason is we figured out how the systems work."
In its early days, the company’s primary area of focus was the petroleum market. Dee Karawadra said, "When I first got started it was in petroleum. Being Indian, I sold to a lot of convenience stores and figured out how to do petroleum. Petroleum is a more complicated setup that can scare a lot of agents and ISOs away, but we have perfected the boarding of petro accounts from the POS systems inside to the pumps outside."
Emily Karawadra believes Impact PaySystem's ATM products are beneficial to both gas stations and financial institutions. "I think with the ATM product it is twofold," she said. "One is retail, which is hitting the petroleum market that allows the petroleum merchants to offer ATMs at their locations.
"Second is our financial institutions channel. What we try to do with our financial institutions is help them compete with the national brands, the Bank of Americas of the world. What we are trying to do is place the right tools for their customers to have the same conveniences as the National Banks do. We can also customize the merchant program from branding to putting feet on the street."
The payment processing industry is exposed to numerous promotions, from free equipment to zero transaction and statement fees, and the margins are shrinking. "The more products you can integrate together the more it lowers your attrition tremendously," Dee Karawadra said, adding that Impact PaySystem offers an integrated POS system solution that provides MLSs a fully integrated package they can price justify with the healthy return on investment.
One type of integrated product the company will be rolling out in the future is a residual and customer relationship management (CRM) system. "We have our own in-house residual and CRM system we have been building that will serve the agents and merchants in a more proactive kind of way than we have in the past," Dee Karawadra said. "It will allow merchants to actually take the iPad and fill out all the information versus the old-fashioned way and then do an electronic signature. Our system prefills it so you only have to fill it out once."
Another Impact PaySystem product is the iPhoneswiper 2, an iPhone credit card processing reader designed to allow merchants the power to process transactions anywhere. The iPhone cradle has an integrated mag stripe reader, infrared bar code scanner and standalone thermal Bluetooth printer for printing traditional receipts.
"The plumber can come over and doesn't have to go to his car to pick up his machine to swipe it," Dee Karawadra said. "He can just do it right then and there while he is filling out the invoice. You can even now fill out the invoice on the smartphone."
Dee Karawadra also noted that Impact PaySystem offers 1Rate, a unique service that consolidates the many different credit rates merchants process into one easy rate using the website 1EasyRate.com. The 1Rate eliminates the more complex rate structures in addition to the recurring monthly fees, such as statement, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and other compliance fees. 1Rate helps merchants determine whether they are paying a fair price or are being overcharged. The reward? More work So what is the secret? How has Impact PaySystem adhered to its ethical standards and remained profitable while maintaining an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau every year?
"The industry norm for attrition is 15 to 20 percent; we are averaging around 8 to 10 percent," Dee Karawadra said. "I'd like to think it's the combination of having incredible agents, our own customer service and tech support and adding the products that ties them all in at the same time. A lot of that has remained the same – integrity, how we do business, service level.
"We could have a call center in India taking our tech support calls, but we have our own group right here in Memphis. What it does is lowers our attrition rate because we maintain that relationship with the agent, merchant and user at the same time. We do take a lot of pride in our service level."
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