Anovia Payments LLC, an ISO launched in mid-2013, reported it has already signed up 10,000 businesses for merchant services, reached $1 billion in annualized transaction volume and put more than 50 people on the payroll.
The Irving, Texas-based acquirer achieved those results without putting "feet on the street" to solicit merchant accounts. Instead, the company relies on referral partners and strategic partners, said Kevin Jones, Anovia President and Chief Executive Officer.
Referral partners simply provide sales leads, but strategic partners handle more of the tasks involved in acquiring. As partners learn the payments business, some take on more of the responsibility for bringing merchants onboard and could even assume responsibilities like underwriting, Jones said. Partners include member-based professional associations, franchise groups, value-added reseller software companies and mobile app developers, according to Andy Meadows, Anovia Executive Vice President of Sales and Strategy.
One partner, the not-for-profit ReStore resale shops operated by Habitat for Humanity International, has 800 locations offering new and used tools, building materials and furniture, Meadows said. Other partners include Fellowship Technology, a software provider to churches; ACN Inc.; Firefly Rewards; and some chiropractic associations. Despite Anovia's success with partners, who've helped sign up 700 merchants monthly, the company plans to begin taking on a few hand-picked ISOs as resellers. "Our model is a little bit different from most of those in the industry in that we don't want to attract a lot of ISOs and agents," Jones said. "We really want to invest our time and effort in a just a few partners versus taking anyone who wants to come onboard."
The Anovia model includes a technology platform called Trio designed and built in-house by the company's five-member staff of developers to bring merchants onboard. It also keeps resellers informed of how their referrals are progressing toward sign-up and what actions the resellers should take to expedite the process.
"Our idea is to keep them as close as possible from a communications standpoint as we can," Jones said of referral and strategic partners. Anovia has labored to make the custom Trio "micro sites" their resellers use "disruptively simple from a partner usability standpoint," he added.
Partners can use Trio to contact Anovia through click2call, click2chat or by making an appointment through the site. They can also use click2buy. The platform connects to the partner's customer relationship management tool or provides a CRM tool. Trio's also involved with underwriting and risk management.
"We want to be high tech and high touch, which we believe is a winning strategy in the partner channel we've pursued," Jones said of the company's approach to resellers. It's a way of doing business that Jones and Meadows developed while working together in the acquiring business for 12 of the last 13 years, dating back to their days at Chase Paymentech.
Jones and Meadows launched Anovia with the help of a private investment firm and industry consultant. "In a startup situation, it is so valuable to have trust, loyalty and common core values to lay the foundation of the organization's culture and personality," Jones said of working with Meadows.
The company soon added Steven Neel as Executive Vice President, Finance; Charlie Berard as Vice President, Technology; and Richard Blake as Vice President, Operations.
Besides the Dallas-area headquarters, the company operates offices in Toronto and Quebec under the name Anovia Payments Canada. Canadian operations began about three months after the company opened its doors in the United States. It employs eight people full-time in Canada. About a third of the company's business comes from Canada, enough to make Anovia a major independent acquirer there. The country's limited number of banks usually handle their own acquiring, so ISOs remain rare in Canada.
By the end of 2015, the company intends to expand into two Latin American countries, Jones said.
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