Frank Bisignano's appointment as Chief Executive Officer of First Data Corp. in 2013 signaled a major change for the global payment processor. When Bisignano, a former JP Morgan executive, was appointed Chairman of the Board in March 2014, he stated, "With this additional role, I pledge to continue to lead the company in the direction we have set as we transform First Data into a highly collaborative partner capable of bringing new and innovative solutions to market."
First Data's ISO Client President's Club members are among the company's top-producing clients; they were apprised of the change of direction early on. "About a year ago, we had a client conference, and our new CEO Frank Bisignano talked about the importance of ISOs in the industry and to First Data," said O.B. Rawls, the company's Senior Vice President and General Manager, National and ISO Portfolio. "That was a really welcomed message for the ISOs to hear."
Since then, First Data has invested millions of dollars in product development, according to Rawls. "When Frank gave that signal, what we've been working on ever since is to be the best place for ISOs to do business in the world," he said. "We've been building products, solutions and services for the ISO community over the last year."
Recent products released by First Data include the Clover Station cloud-based POS platform, the Perka mobile marketing and loyalty platform, the Insightics business intelligence and analytics platform and its PayLucky Solutions payment platform targeting legal online and offline gambling and gaming businesses. First Data also received an infusion of $3.5 billion from investors in June 2014. "The new investment will unlock $375 million per year to help us accelerate our transformation," Bisignano stated shortly after the investment was made.
In February, First Data began rollout of an open platform for ISOs, currently dubbed the ISO Client Toolset. It is composed of six integrated segments that will be phased in throughout 2014. First Data expects to complete the rollout by November.
The first segment is a one-point boarding system. "In the past, because First Data was a collection of acquisitions, we had various platforms," Rawls said. "So we built a wrapper around all of the platforms that created a simple boarding tool." The platform's portfolio management system enables ISOs to manage all of their business in one platform and provides real-time access to profitability and risk management modules for tracking portfolio progress, he added.
Also, within the platform's merchant level reporting and customer relationship management systems, merchants are able to interact in self-service mode. "We've built an automated case management system for issues that need resolution with a live-chat feature and even an issue portability system, so that if the first person they communicate with can't solve the problem, the case moves from one person to another in its entirety, so there's a history," Rawls noted.
Rawls also pointed out that an interchange management system permits ISOs to view merchant data individually or by category or SIC (standard industrial classification) code, to continually monitor rates, fees and chargebacks. The residual payment component tracks revenue at every level. "We've tied that into a bottomless hierarchy of payments so that we can pay residuals not only to the ISOs, but on behalf of each of their sub-ISOs or agents or salespeople," Rawls said.
And First Data plans to include management of competitor data. "If they are an ISO that does business with us and who does business with one of our competitors, because this is a cloud-based tool, they can get their data from their other supplier and actually manage it in this platform, so they get a full view of their business investment," Rawls said.
According to Rawls, First Data's move to an open platform may have surprised many, but the company is a firm believer in the open market concept. He feels that if feedback from a recent ISO client conference is any indicator, First Data is headed in the right direction.
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