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Table of Contents

Lead Story

According to the street

News

Industry Update

February brings new payment schemes

Durbin delaying EMV road map

Checkout surcharging facts debated

Features

How effectively are banks reaching financially underserved?

Research Rundown

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Prepaid leading 'a la carte' revolution

Praise, criticism for UC card programs

Views

Are your merchants surcharging card customers?

Patti Murphy
ProScribes Inc.

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Heed merchants' red flags to strengthen your business

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Can bitcoins become a full-fledged payment system?

Nicholas Cucci
Network Merchants Inc.

How ISOs can work more effectively with MLSs

Christopher Briller and Sean O'Neil
MerchantPro Express LLC

Is relationship selling on the rocks?

Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.

Use the right words to create new revenue via ACH

Sandy Jensen
Empire Bank

Company Profile

Charge Card Systems Inc.

Layered Technologies Inc.

New Products

A portal for ISO apps

P2 App Portal
POS Portal Inc.

ATM without the card

Cardless ATM
Diebold Inc.

Inspiration

Make the most of work

Departments

Readers Speak

2013 events calendar

Resource Guide

Datebook

Skyscraper Ad

The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 25, 2013  •  Issue 13:02:02

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According to the street

Editor's Note: This article by Paul H. Green, President & CEO of The Green Sheet Inc., was first published in this magazine on Feb. 24, 2003, in issue 03:02:02. We are reprinting it a decade later because it is uncanny how many parallels exist between what was occurring in the payments industry then and what we are experiencing today. The lead article in our March 11, 2013, issue will follow up with perspectives from our advisory board on current market conditions.

The retail financial services market, the home turf of the independent sales organization (ISO), is likely to see a lot of new changes in 2003, and the signs of this change are everywhere.

By most accounts, 2002 was a "bad" year for the U.S. economy: bad financial results, bad stock market performance, bad ethical and moral behavior, and a bad job market. But it is likely that the slowness of retail sales and the rise in business bankruptcies were the only general economic problems felt by ISOs.

New sales were slowing at year-end (See GSQ "2002 Billion Dollar Acquiring Report") after a rough 18 months of slow retail growth, stunting equipment upgrades and organic sales growth. As if that were not enough, pricing has never been more competitive, and the marketplace has been under careful review by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Off-the-record discussions with industry notables reflect that some are quietly worried, while others seem to believe that all is well and that the ISO opportunity has never been better. In fairness, many see that there are many positive things to say about the condition of the marketplace but that a good deal is dependant on improvement in the U.S. economy as a whole. While this all sounds a bit scary, we know that sales continue and some organizations are prospering as usual.

This said, a number of senior people in our marketplace seem to be holding their breath now and hoping for the best. However, what no one is really doing much of is talking, at least not on the record. What some acknowledge off the record is their fear that new sales may be flat for some time and that only the best-run acquirers will be able to grow substantially under these market conditions.

So The Green Sheet has been out making inquires at the grass roots of the industry to see what might be shared on the record. Following are some general themes that have appeared both on and off the record:

Here is a small selection of responses we received to two of our questions:

What is going on in your market?

What is hot and what is not?

In the years that I have worked, I have been lucky enough to be a principal mover in the creation and nurturing of four companies. One of the things that those who have worked with me have heard me say again and again is, "Beginning a business is a sheer act of willing it into existence."

In truth, every business is a result of the people at the top, shaping an idea into a business reality. Not all ideas succeed, of course, but all of the ones that do are the result of the fortitude of the founders and senior mangers in continually believing in what they are doing and making others believe.

Business conversation is the fuel of new ideas, new force and new directions. So I, for one, would like to start 2003 with the positive, rather than the negative, and believe that the next five years for ISOs may be the best ever because we collectively are going to make it so.

We have to remember that when the negative begins to dominate conversation, it begins to overwhelm the ideas people have and makes it hard to change the negative trends.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | Harbortouch | USAePay | IRISCRM.COM | Humboldt Merchant Services