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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 26, 2010 • Issue 10:04:02

Positive economic signs and actions - Part 3

Economic tides seem to be turning, albeit slowly. So The Green Sheet asked members of our advisory board for their thoughts on the following questions:

    1. What are examples of some light at the end of the tunnel your company is experiencing?
    2. What areas of your business have picked up?
    3. Where do you plan to focus as the economy improves?
    4. How have you stayed tuned to your customers needs over the last year?

The first two portions of responses to these questions were published in The Green Sheet, March 22, 2010, issue 10:03:02, and April 12, 2010, issue 10:04:01. This article contains the third segment. Many thanks to the advisory board members who took time out from their busy schedules to share their perspectives for this series.

Bob Ficarra
Sterling Payment Technologies

    1. Sterling Payment Technologies has experienced a noticeable year-to-year increase in processing volume from our base. We have always striven to focus on technological innovations and value-based offerings to enhance our product mix. As the marketplace becomes more competitive, our technological innovations give us the offerings that have enabled us to minimize attrition and maintain healthy spreads.

    2. We have been experiencing substantial growth in the business-to-business market. We believe that the credit crunch has limited businesses' ability to extend credit, and many businesses are focusing more on bankcards to fill in the gaps.

    3. In a commodity-based market, one needs to differentiate with low-cost, value-added products and services. Sterling believes that technology holds the key. Sterling has been investing in this area for years. We have built offerings that enhance the merchant's experience with products that increase sales, increase efficiencies and reduce loss.

    Our unique cardless rewards system allows merchants to use the cards consumers have in their wallets to provide shopping incentives. Our integrated Web-based Cash IP Register reduces losses associated with shrinkage, increases efficiencies and provides needed marketing information at a very competitive price.

    4. The relationship between a business and its customers is always unique. Sterling's commitment to service helps us keep our finger on the pulse of the marketplace. We utilize input from all levels of our enterprise. Sterling's feedback loops include merchants, customer service, sales, accounting and the competitive environments. These are all areas that we mine continually to enhance our marketing mix.

Lisa Shipley

    1 Our new Telium line of payment terminals, wrapped around security and managed services solutions are driving the company toward an even better year in 2010. Customers are looking for differentiation, and the new array of managed services and innovative technologies from Ingenico offer just that.

    Early in 2009, we made significant strategic changes within the organization, including organizational re-alignment, product-line updates, and strategic partnerships that positioned us well ahead of the competition and enabled Ingenico North America to hit the market with very unique product offerings.

    We took the time to listen to our customers and made the changes early enough, which allowed us to remain the industry leader in payment technology solutions.

    2. Our customers appear to be most interested in our newer products, including the iPA280, WebPOS, the iSC350, the i9780UPT unattended/petroleum device and Ingenico ROAM Mobile Payment applications.

    We believe we successfully cornered the market with several unique solutions that allow our merchants to turn their static payment hardware into dynamic portals by enabling them to send value-added applications, security updates and promotional content to their valued clients.

    3. First, we will make sure that we remain center-focused on our clients' business needs and their priorities by enhancing our customer service and delivering on our promise and commitments.

    Second, we will continue to promote our new products and services that benefit our clients and bring unique offerings to the marketplace.

    Third, we will leverage our products and services that provide for recurring revenue opportunities currently not available through other vendors.

    4. We spent a good amount of time visiting our customers, listening to their business requirements, and learning about their challenges in meeting the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requirements by protecting their cardholders' data and in turn their brand.

    At the same time, we were able to engage our customers and educate them on the latest trends and technologies in the payments industry. We were able to consult and paint the future for their businesses by showing where technologies were heading, potential benefits of their applications, and how they, the clients, could best prepare to compete in this new marketplace.

    We reaffirmed our commitment to our customers that they were doing business with the global leader in the payments space.

J. David Siembieda
CrossCheck Inc.

    1 and 2. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we're noticing that sales are picking up. With the high unemployment rate and a slow economic recovery, merchants are realizing that they need a check guarantee service.

    We just got back from exhibiting at the National Auto Dealer Association show in Florida, and we had a chance to meet with many auto dealers. These guys have really had it rough, but overall, they are much more positive than a year ago. For us, it turned out to be one of our best shows, in terms of sales at the show and leads, than we've had for years. Also, our ISO sales continue to grow and, with a couple of new products on the horizon, we're expecting a strong second and third quarter coming up.

    3. The tough economy really makes collecting receivables quickly important to helping a business stay healthy, so we are growing our Optio Solutions subsidiary to keep up with the demand for collection tools. Over the past two years we've opened up four new sales offices and have plans for more. We've also received demand from our ISOs and partners to sell these services, so we'll continue to make them available for our CrossCheck reps.

    4. We heard a recurring message with our customers and clients last year. They were looking for cost savings for their day-to-day operations, which was especially important, as many were working with smaller workforces and less capital. With this in mind, we invested in new product development and technology and have developed several new conversion products and enhancements including remote deposit capture with guarantee.

    Our products offer our merchants savings in staff time for processing payments, reconciling records or collecting past due balances. New and existing customers have been very responsive, and the feedback is quite positive.

Rick Slifka
Exec-Links LLC

    1 and 2. I'm delighted to report that in spite of being in one of the worst economies of our lifetime, 2009 was an exceptional year for us, and 2010 is off to an even better start. As acquisitions seem to be a common occurrence in our industry, once the dust settles there is typically a need for a specific caliber of talent. Having been in this industry 17-plus years, referrals are commonplace, both from a candidates' perspective as well as hearing from new clients (who've heard about our services).

    Never before has there been such an abundance of highly talented candidates. Companies continue to want to identify talent that can bring new business along and add revenue to the bottom line. Areas that have picked up: new candidates and new clients.

    I'm sorry to admit that the vast majority of Americans have no idea just how shaky the U.S. economy is, as well as the negative impact this presidential administration is having on our daily lives. Every chief executive officer or company president I speak with agrees on one unfortunate fact: our taxes will continue to dramatically increase annually. I strongly urge anyone reading this to, as soon as possible, watch a documentary called Generation Zero. It was recently released on DVD.

    Based on the federal government's constant spending and the amount of debt being compiled, there are no indicators that point to the fact that this economy will be improving for many, many years. We've outsourced most of our manufacturing overseas, which explains why the economies on China and India seem to be faring better than ours.

    3 and 4. Fortunately, we are in a service industry, and there will always be a need for a transaction to be processed in some form or fashion.

    Since its common knowledge that it's easier to keep good clients versus finding new ones, Exec-Links will continue to focus on selectively acquiring new clients while continuing to offer best-in-class service to our existing clients. I have also partnered with Cardgigs (www.cardgigs.com), a job-search Web site designed exclusively for the payment processing industry. Unlike behemoth sites like Monster and CareerBuilder, clients that use Cardgigs know our candidate database is comprised of those with only financial services/payment processing backgrounds.

    A scientifically tested phenomenon referred to as "spaced repetition" states that if you professionally market a product or service to a prospective customer six times, it will stick. Quite simply put, we try to reach out to clients and prospects every two months. Doing that enables us to keep abreast of industry trends and mergers/acquisitions, enhance existing relationships, selectively add to our client base, and stay attuned to an ever-changing industry and marketplace.

Scott Wagner
GO Direct Merchant Services Inc.

    1. Our bank channel is picking up. It appears several banks we work with are doing some new lending. Those new relationships are finding their way to us. I would say it's an all around win. Merchants are starting to get loans; banks are picking up new business; in turn, we are generating new accounts.

    3. The bank channel and bank relationships have been mutually successful for us and our partners. We will continue to spend time and energy capital on this growing channel.

end of article

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