Bob Carr is expanding his enterprise and venturing north into Canadian payments territory. Heartland Payment Systems Inc., a provider of credit, debit and prepaid card processing, payroll, and payment services since 1997, acquired a majority interest in Collective Point of Sale Solutions Ltd., a Canadian payment processing services and secure POS solutions provider. Under the agreement, Heartland will maintain the CollectivePOS brand in Canada.
This marks Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland's investiture into the Canadian credit and debit card processing market. Moreover, Heartland and CollectivePOS are now able to service merchants who are dually located in the United States and Canada. "We have a number of merchants here in the U.S., from restaurant and hotel groups to service organizations, that have locations in Canada," said Carr, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Heartland.
CollectivePOS President and CEO Michael Back will maintain his leadership of the company. Additionally, the Ontario-based firm will continue to process and service its customers' payment transactions. "The existing management team is highly motivated because it still owns a sizeable portion of the company," Carr said.
"We think it's a great team that shares our values about how to treat merchants and that this agreement gives us an opportunity to be very competitive in Canada," Carr added.
Heartland and CollectivePOS took about eight months to hammer out details of the merger.
Heartland plans to slowly integrate its technology into Canada and to amalgamate the two companies' technologies over time.
"That's going to take a while because Canada has a whole different set of rules for Visa and MasterCard debit. It's a completely different ball game up there," Carr said.
"Debit is by far the preferred payment method and PIN-based debit is the dominant payment form in Canada. Plus, Canada is subject to the global EMV (Europay International, MasterCard Worldwide, Visa Inc.) regulations and the U.S. is not."
Adam Atlas, Attorney and President of the newly formed Canadian Acquirer's Association, has his finger on the pulse of the Canadian payments market and is enthusiastic about Heartland's move into Ontario.
"I think the added competition can only be a good thing and a step in the right direction," he said. "The Canadian marketplace is changing and I think this is going to open the eyes of other Canadian acquirers.
"To its credit Heartland will be able to breathe some added entrepreneurship and competitiveness into CollectivePOS that it might not have had it remained solely a Canadian company."
CollectivePOS' operations are expected to run smoothly during the transition; merchants will not need a system conversion. Also, Carr does not anticipate the acquisition will have a material impact on 2008 revenues. But thereafter he anticipates an "approximate 20 percent annual growth, which is what we've been doing in the U.S. for some time."
Carr sees this strategic move as Heartland's first step into the Canadian market. "We're starting off in Ontario, and our plan is to work westward," he said. "As we gather strength in Canada we'll move into Quebec - and then I'll be sure to take a refresher course in my French."
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