By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
The Electronic Transactions Association's annual conference, Transact 19, was a networking, deal-making show. Keynote moderator Dierdre Cohen, senior vice president and head of acquisitions at Visa, interviewed TSYS executives Philip McHugh and Henry Helgeson about the company's recent Cayan acquisition. They relived the fast-moving deal, illustrating that handshakes can happen anywhere, not just boardrooms, but also golf courses, restaurants and bars. McHugh, TSYS senior vice president and president of merchant solutions, recalled writing numbers on a cocktail napkin to close the deal. Helgeson, TSYS president of integrated solutions and former Cayan CEO, jokingly added, "We landed on a number that he had no authority to offer, and I had no authority to accept." Noting the recent FiServ-First Data and FIS-Worldpay mergers, McHugh said he expects mergers and acquisitions to continue, both internally and industrywide. "TSYS has clear pillars in mind for where we want to grow," he said. "We want to be big and specialized, with great integration of legacy systems and fewer, better gateways."
One example of a legacy brand that keeps reinventing itself is NCR Corp. In 1884, the company introduced cash registers, which gradually evolved into high-end integrated POS systems. Then it launched NCR Silver in 2017, a cloud-based solution designed to deliver a big-brand experience to small and midsize business owners. The following year, NCR acquired JetPay Corp. for $185 million, advancing its goal of creating an end-to-end POS ecosystem.
On Transact's main stage, Brian Hurdis, NCR general manager, payment services and Diane Faro, president, NCR payment services and former JetPay CEO, discussed the transition with moderator Chris Lee, CEO at BillingTree. Faro stated that JetPay customers and the entire payments value chain have much to gain from the new partnership. Hurdis stressed that NCR is focused on software, not just products. "What has been a surprise was figuring out what payments means within NCR," he said. "We understood what we had, and then we needed to capitalize on what we bought."
What I remember most about Transact 19 was seeing so many of my favorite people. Industry veterans who have known each other for years almost speak in code. Remarkable occurrences from years past are reduced to one or two words. It's like the old story of friends who laugh at Number 42, without having to tell the whole joke. A kind of joyful, unscripted chemistry rippled across exhibit hall stages, meeting rooms, bars, restaurants and casino tables. Beyond the presentations, exhibits and meetings, the best part of the show was being together. As I made the rounds of meetings and parties, I kept smiling at all the familiar faces. Hopefully, business owners feel the same way about merchant level salespeople: as cool, fun friends who help them grow and scale.
Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content development specialist. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.
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