After competing with technology companies as a merchant level salesperson in 2008 and then as a sub-ISO in 2015, JohnPaul Golino, founder and CEO of Choice Merchant Solutions, saw a better way. Borrowing a page from big tech's playbook, he set out to build and scale an end-to-end merchant acquiring platform without investor money.
"Fast forward to 2016, we registered Choice Merchant Solutions with Esquire Bank and formed Choice Technologies, where we created Jarvis, an operational infrastructure for merchant acquirers," Golino said. "Today, Jarvis supports more than 50,000 merchants as well as ISVs, ISOs, resellers and financial institutions that white label the platform."
Following the success of Jarvis in the acquiring community, Choice hired a team in 2018 to build a similar type of back-office infrastructure for merchants. Launched in 2020, the technology, gateway and application are fully synchronized; a sale on a terminal will also show up on the mobile app, Golino stated.
Golino pointed out that owning the technology stack and gateway enables Choice to deliver true omnichannel solutions on its smart app for Android and iOS devices. He added that the company and its ISV partners have helped franchises, auto dealerships, municipalities and sports stadiums improve their conversion rates and bottom lines.
Choice software seamlessly integrates device platforms across channels to support customers where and when they want to pay, Golino stated. QR code menus, online ordering and pay-by-text capabilities enable customers to order ahead and check out on their own devices remotely and in stores.
The Choice POS family, which includes the Smart Terminal, Edge Terminal and Pro Terminal, can support every phase of the merchant customer lifecycle. The company's REST API enables ISVs to easily integrate Choice payments applications into vertically focused solutions, Golino noted, adding that the Choice Technology Suite provides partners with back-office infrastructure; scalable technology; customizable, continuously updated feature sets; and 24/7 support.
Crediting people and technology for his company's year-over-year organic growth, he said he relies more on chemistry than resumes when building a team. When everyone is comfortable, you eliminate unnecessary stress and just work better, he added.
"In the past year, we added people who are making a big difference and we didn't lose anyone," Golino said. "Some team members have been with us for 10 years and others two years; when you get really good people it makes a difference."
While acknowledging that the pandemic was a tough time for everyone, Golino said pivoting to digital didn’t happen by luck. Choice had already been building digital platforms at the onset of COVID-19, and nearly 50 percent of employees had already been working remotely, which meant zero adjustments were needed to go 100 percent remote and digital, he noted.
Contemplating Choice's near-term opportunities and road map, Golino said his biggest priority is to help ISOs and ISVs who have been impacted by mergers, internal sales and opaque pricing policies—because he has been there. As a sub-ISO watching his deal count go from 100 to 75 to 15 deals a month, Golino vowed to forge lasting relationships with transparent pricing for every partner and customized support for every ISV.
"We want you to feel good when you sign a merchant who is using another POS system," Golino said. "When you walk out the door, you won't have to feel that the merchant needs more than you can offer."
In addition, Choice helps its partners and end-user customers leverage all of the endpoints it offers, Golino stated, adding that in many cases, this has improved the ways in which business owners reconcile payments and pull transaction data. "We give you the technology you need to scale, compete, reduce attrition and add value to your business," Golino said. "With us, you don't have to charge crazy fees for technologies because we own it all."
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