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Issue 03:10:01
News

Industry Update

Kane Comes to First American Payment Systems

MasterCard Seeks Injunction Against Visa Exit-Fees

Hispanic Groups Oppose First Data, Concord EFS Merger

American Express Seeking U.S. Bankcard Partners

Views

Understanding the Total Merchant Environment: Conversation Starters that Open Doors and Close Deals

'BPS Machine' Was a Beacon During Blackout

Features

GS Advisory Board
Debit Pricing: Confusion and Opportunity

Green Sheet Memories

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Surf the Web with Success

How to Prevent Chargebacks And, If Necessary, Defend Them

What is a Value-Added Product, And What Does It Mean to My Merchants and Me?

New Products

VeriFone Delivers 3DES-Secure PIN Pad

MasterCard Offline Debit Cards Get ID

Inspiration

Know Your Competition

That's Not How it Looked on My Screen!

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook


Is It 20 Years Already?

There is an old saying about time really flying when you are having a good time, and it would certainly be appropriate for The Green Sheet. It is hard to believe that the crazy idea that I had in 1983, to create an information resource designed just for salespeople in the financial services industry, would still be alive and growing in 2003, but it is.

Perhaps because we have always had a good time creating The Green Sheet, the time has gone unnoticed. I am proud to say that, today, the GS staff continues to find new and even better ways to meet the varying needs of our readers - while having fun. The Green Sheet reaches 15,000 print readers and 1.5 million electronic readers each month, and we continuing to add new services and information.

Pulling together the information for this anniversary issue, I realized that the readers have had as much to say about this 20 years as any of us at The Green Sheet might. So here are selected comments from you, as well as my thoughts about The Green Sheet's journey. Why The Green Sheet?

In 1982, after a seven-year career as the President of Telecredit Check Services, I became a third owner in Unlimited Marketing Services Association and then founded American Marketing Corporation (AMCOR), the nation's first ISO. My vision was to build independent sales offices throughout the U.S. With the signing of our five-year contract with Citicorp Bank, we began to do just that, selling $1.5 billion (with a "b") of new bankcard business our first year.

While working first to build AMCOR and then for the next 18 years to build CrossCheck, my other job was always The Green Sheet. People inside the businesses, as well as industry people whom I met on the road, would always say, "It seems like you are always writing." This was my life for over a decade, writing every word that The Green Sheet published.

The important thing that I would like to remind our readers is that The Green Sheet has never been a business to me; it has always been a mission. Our mission is to help the sales individuals on the street to know what they needed to know to make a livable wage. For this reason, for more than half of The Green Sheet's life, it had no advertising and was financed by my other business ventures.

Given a large and growing national sales force, all made up of independent companies and salespeople, AMCOR needed a way to communicate regularly with the "feet on the street." With this realization, The Green Sheet was born. The first issues bore a hand-drawn banner head that I thought gave it an old world feel; in fact, the very first newsletters weren't green. With the adoption of the green paper and a four-page format (produced in Microsoft Word and printed at a local copying business), The Green Sheet began to take shape.

Milestones and Half-Steps

The first issues of The Green Sheet were only four pages and about 1,600 words each. In October 1986, we moved to a slightly more professional look. The first issue on green paper (October 31, 1986) announced that AMCOR had received approval from MasterCard and Visa for the use of bankcard logos on AMCOR business cards. Downstream independent sales offices also were permitted logo use.

In the March 6, 1987 issue, we introduced our first industry cartoon, which has been a staple ever since. The April 7, 1989 issue announced the first Visa/MasterCard ISO regulations and restrictions in the industry and suggested that this was the result of a certain player in the industry. Following this story, The Green Sheet was sued by Peachtree Bankcard, the beginning of several suits against me and the publication, for a variety of reasons.

The April 23, 1993 issue was the first to grow to six pages, and it later became a tri-fold layout for the July 25, 1994 issue. In January 1995, The Green Sheet became an independent corporation for the first time. After 11 years of publication and support by UMSA, AMCOR and CrossCheck, The Green Sheet published its first issue without a co-logo.

Also in January 1995, the recurring feature "Resource Guide" was created, with a three-quarter-page layout and 11 categories. With Green Sheet independence, the publication launched its Web site in July 1995. Modest as it was, it began to pave the way for more robust computer systems for managing the 11 years of previous published text and the readership database. In 1995 alone, The Green Sheet published more than 75,000 words with a staff of three, including the Webmaster.

We did not move from our tri-fold, six-page, 3,200-word formats from April 1993 to March 1997. The current magazine format began with 10 pages in '97 and has grown to as many as 96, from 4,800 words to 28,000 words per issue. The Green Sheet now has more to say in three issues than it used to say in an entire year in 1995.

With the growth of the initial publication and its online alter ego, The Green Sheet also launched its GSQ full-color magazine in 1997, publishing four issues per year both in print and online.

I am pleased to say today that The Green Sheet is a household name in the industry, and with continuing praise from our readers we regularly find new opportunities such as the MLS Forum, the Registered ISO Network and our new PPL (Payment Processing Litigation) section to improve our overall offering.

While I am proud of the fact that we have received nine Awards for Publication Excellence with our Green Sheet print product, GS Online and GSQ, what pleases me most are your comments that we have remained on target and relevant to your needs.

Some Readers Like What We Provide

Not everyone who has received The Green Sheet likes it, and some even find it irritating. Over 20 years we have had both critics and admirers, but most are somewhere in the middle, finding enough of what we provide beneficial to endure those areas of disagreement.

My personal favorite of the notes that we have received was from Wyatt Baxter, then a Bankcard Services Association board member.

As part of a longer letter to me in which we were disagreeing on the direction of the BSA, Wyatt wrote, "I can't wait to get The Green Sheet each time, to see what politically stupid thing that you will say next."

As for our admirers, here are just a few of their comments:

"I enjoy your publication tremendously!"

- Craig Johnson, COC Merchant Services

"I look forward to The Green Sheet every single month."

- Josh Weiss, Merchant Masters

"I get all kinds of information from The Green Sheet. Actually, what I like most is when The Green Sheet teaches me something that I didn't know, like the difference between check verification and guarantee. The Green Sheet taught me this. I love it and keep every issue."

- Fred Harland, National Bankcard

"The Green Sheet is pretty informative. It's kinda cool. I wouldn't change anything."

- Troy Myer, Merchant's Choice

"I like The Green Sheet, it's witty and informative. The Resource Guide is invaluable! It's saved me over $1,000/month. The Green Sheet Resource Guide puts me into contact with companies I would otherwise never find."

- Steven Brunet, Electronic Credit Services Northwest

"I regularly have customers and ISOs ask me questions, and if it weren't for The Green Sheet I'd be hard-pressed to find some of the answers. In fact, sometimes I go so far as to pull out an issue and show them an article straight out of print. ... I'm happy to be receiving The Green Sheet and enjoy reading every issue."

- Joy Callahan, Callahan & Associates

"I love The Green Sheet. It's informative and I like the 'overall' ISO industry info best. I think the Sales Tips are excellent. In fact, I put them out regularly at sales meetings. I use the Resource Guide to track competitors."

- Bernie Cavenaugh, First Premier Bank

"Very enlightening... I find the Sales Tips useful. They cause you to think about what you're doing and saying to your customers. The Green Sheet contains very good advice."

- Robert Culver, Culver Sales and Service

"You people are doing a good job out there. I think The Green Sheet's layout is good, it's informative and I get quite a few helpful tips from it. I've used the Resource Guide to call a few other companies and compare their service offerings to my own. I use The Green Sheet as a training tool in my own business. Keep up the good work."

- James Dimitroff, Master Minds, Inc.

"We are very impressed with the reader base you seem to have. After you ran the article in version 96:04:01, we received a tremendous response and have in turn recommended other ISOs and banks to call and get a subscription to The Green Sheet."

- Scott Rutledge, The Horizon Group, Inc.

"I want to thank you for the wonderful publication that you put out. It is very informative."

- Jerry King, The ATM Network

"I would like to compliment you on The Green Sheet. I have only one word for it, and that is 'Excellent!' "

- Robert A. Holtan

"Thank you for listing (The ATM Network). My phone has been ringing since it first came out (in the May 13, 1996 issue)."

- Jerry King, ATM Network

"We love The Green Sheet. We fight over who is going to get to read it first each time it arrives in our office."

- Ellen Hudec, First American Payment Systems, Inc.

"I get more information from one issue of The Green Sheet than from one year being an ETA member."

- Ken MacDonald

"Outstanding periodical. Just received my copy of your new GSQ. I've been in the check guarantee and credit card processing sales business for some 15 years. Have been getting your Green Sheet for two years now. Unequivocally the premier publication regarding these two areas of sales available."

- Edward J. Damian, Kingdom Marketing, Inc.

"You put out one terrific newsletter. It is the only publication in my whole life that I read cover to cover."

- Lloyd Dorner

"The management here at PayPoint enjoys your publication and finds it to be one of the top sources of information within our industry."

- Chi Chow, PayPoint EPS, Inc.

"The reason for this note today is to thank you and your excellent staff for the outstanding service that you all provide for this industry. I just finished reading your article 'On Being Independent' in the back of issue 98:07:02. What an inspiration you are to all of us independent reps on the firing line!"

- Randal DeHart, Superior Bankcard Service

"Your publication is the best of its kind in our industry. It is informative and covers topics of value to the Independent Sales Organizations in the country. You are particularly good at reviewing new products that can offer ISOs an opportunity to differentiate their offer and make them better able to compete in what has become a commodity industry."

- Steve Nichols, PAYTRAN

"The insight, objectivity and honesty of your publication continue to impress me. Thank you for the continued help in sorting out this maze in the financial industry."

- Lester H. Keepper, LHK Quality Associates LTD

"I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that I have always enjoyed reading your publication, look forward to its arrival in the mail and secretly wish I had done something like you have done. You should be very proud of your accomplishments - they're well deserved."

- Bob Joyce, Alliance Payment Systems

"I am a great admirer of your publication. Having worked for the New York Times Women's Magazine Division, I know a good publication when I see it. Your stories about our bankcard industry are invaluable to so many of us for obvious reasons."

- Bart Kohler, Merchant Service Center

"I just wanted to say that I enjoy reading your publication, which is well respected in my company."

- Tanya Handy, Retriever Payment Systems

"I have been a reader of The Green Sheet for a long time ... since it was a small, four-page newsletter mailed either monthly or biweekly. It has gone through many changes since then. However, I continue to read it because I agree with the direction. It is a good combination of facts, advertising and a forum for questions and opinions.

I think that the publication has done an excellent job of becoming a real resource for the ISO industry. It is obvious from some of the letters that the readership varies greatly in experience. This tells me that you are doing an excellent job of mixing the content. You hold the interest of everyone, from the president of a large processing company to someone just breaking in the ISO business. While we may not agree with what is said ... we all look forward to the next issue."

- Larry A. Henry, L.H. Enterprises

"I find The Green Sheet very fascinating, interesting and well done. I think it's wonderful and can see no way to improve upon it."

- Mark Dickerson, National Financial Payment Solutions

"I am amazed that you can continue to put out so much good information, issue after issue.

"I have written for a newsletter much like The Green Sheet, and I know that it is damn hard work."

- Jerry Karley,

"As far as industry literature is concerned, no one delivers it to a larger audience than The Green Sheet. If you are involved in the payment-processing industry, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you do not subscribe to this magazine. To many of us, it is the Industry Bible, the beat that we march to."

- Benjamin Whittemore, IRN

"As a member of the original advisory board of CCM (Credit Card Management magazine) back in 1988, I was excited to see a publication focusing on the credit card industry. In the last 14 years, the two sides of the industry have changed dramatically. The number of card issuers has shrunk to a handful, while the number of merchant service providers has mushroomed into the thousands.

Now, as then, CCM still puts most of the focus on the issuing side. CCM should wake up or it will end up like the ABA Bank Card Convention. The Green Sheet does a great job and is much more than a direct competitor to CCM - it's the winner!"

- David Meyer, APEX, Inc.

Through the years I have loved all the wonderful comments that have helped confirm that we were staying on the right track, but, truth is, the comments we receive are as diverse as our readers.

Some Readers Do Not

"I have never found your newsletter to be informative. Therefore, I suggest you save your postage and remove me from the mailing list immediately. Also, I would like to request that when you refer to my company in your rag that you correctly spell the name of my company. To save you research time, let me spell it for you: 'Cardservice International' (please refer to the top 10 list in your December 23, 1996 issue)."

- Chuck Burtzloff

And Other Readers Like That Some Do Not

"Congratulations, Paul. You've done it again. Anytime you can piss off someone ... [like] Chuck Burtzloff, you must be doing something right. ... Unlike Mr. Burtzloff, I do find your 'rag' to be very informative in a timely manner. You very often have your finger right on the pulse of many of the changes and happenings transpiring in our industry. I also want to make note for everyone out there of the very high level of integrity I have found in all my dealings with you and your Green Sheet.

"You refuse to be backed down By threats of legal action By very large companies when you know the person that presented information to you was correct. I again want to thank you for the way you stood behind me in our tiff against the Zon Jr. XL. They finally did make the necessary corrections with a new chip, but how are they going to update all of the thousands of XLs that are still 'ticking time-bombs' in thousands of merchant locations? Keep up the good work. I look forward to receiving The Green Sheet and send copies to all of my sales reps."

- Bob Miller, California Bancard Systems

The Green Sheet Has Been an Ongoing Critic in the Market

Through the years, we have taken on many issues and some players. We regularly lambasted the earlier stages of the Bankcard Services Association (BSA), charging that its focus was too narrow and that the direction was too exclusionary. We never let up until the BSA became the ETA, and we still have been outspoken about things we thought the association should address.

We didn't like that the ETA never discussed the changes in equipment distribution from ISO and bank to retail locations such as Costco, and we thought that the ETA should be the advocate for the industry when the Federal Trade Commission went after CMS.

We made no friends when we first published bankcard interchange and later received very hostile comments from the equipment manufacturers when we first published equipment pricing.

Our ongoing efforts to share the results of salespeople losing bankcard business to Discover reps they were working with eventually led to the Discover ISO program and to American Express finding interest in ISOs.

From the changes in check processing to the opportunities in ATM and private-label cards, we have used The Green Sheet to educate, inform and lobby.

"I have been a participant in The Green Sheet's growth for about six years. In 1996, when I had my first exposure to The Green Sheet and Paul as well, I was very impressed and liked the fact that someone was trying to streamline communication in this industry. Since then, I have seen numerous articles. Some I agreed with, others I did not. Regardless, you never have shied away from taking a stand or blowing the whistle when you have deemed it necessary. That is a respectable trait to have, and your distribution list has grown as a result of that. I currently recommend it to everyone I talk to who does not receive the publication."

- Scott Rutledge, The Phoenix Group.

"I am concerned that BSA seems to get negative reviews in your newsletter. This is somewhat confusing since your company has been a member and has supported BSA through attendance at our meetings. In fact, I don't know what your 'beef' is with BSA and would welcome talking with you to perhaps understand your position better. ...As for a category of membership that is less costly, BSA does have a category of membership for salespeople whose company they represent. In fact, this is a very inexpensive membership. As for BSA giving some people the feeling that 'we don't belong here,' I find that very troubling because during the past year of Jack Martin's presidency, BSA has made every effort to get our members involved. ... I would love to be on your mailing list of The Green Sheet. That way, I wouldn't have to rely on members to fax it to me."

- Ken Bowman, BSA (May 1996)

"I want to take a moment to tell you that I have appreciated your comments in recent Green Sheets concerning our name change and other issues of mutual concern. Even though we may not have broadened our mission as quickly as some would have liked, I believe that ETA is now on a very inclusive path. Of course, we will have many issues to discuss and figure out, but over time I think we will see an association that will truly represent all in our industry. I would hope, however, that you will not stop providing suggestions on how we should proceed!"

- Ken Bowman, ETA (November 1996)

"We enjoy reading The Green Sheet regularly. Even on the periodic occasions when there were differences of opinion between The Green Sheet and ETA, it seemed that these were amicably reconciled through your sense of fairness and Ken Bowman's incomparable skills of diplomacy."

- Nick Ferrante, American Heritage Bankcard

Battles Have Been Both Public and Private

We have also fought hundreds of private battles along the way. Some helped us explain what we meant by something we had said or published, and many were to help sales reps work out their differences with the organizations through whom they sold.

"Card Payment Systems is an independent ISO/MSP headquartered in New York. For the past couple months, I have been discussing advertising rates with your ad department for The Green Sheet and your new quarterly publication (as well as listings in the Resource Guide).

"I am currently waiting for an invoice to begin advertising immediately in the Resource Guide with my long term commitment to The Green Sheet. However, I must admit my extreme disappointment in the Dec. 15 issue (Letters to the Editor) in which you personally recommend American National Bank to a prospective agent looking for an ISO relationship.

"In my opinion, journalistic integrity was seriously breached by your publication in this matter. I would imagine your other advertisers were not particularly pleased as well. As a 'small' industry, there are very few avenues for medium advertising. I hope in the future you will exercise better journalistic professionalism."

- Ryan O'Connor, Card Payment Systems Ryan:

Thank you for your letter, and I will have Suzanne Cagnassola contact you. I must admit that I continue to be amazed that my view of things seems so much at times to be at odds with very capable and successful people like you.

While I understand your view and I will publish your letter, I will tell you that I see things in the exact opposite way from your expressed view. The Green Sheet, right or wrong, is an expression of my thoughts and views on things, and it has been for 14 years. I am well aware that people often do not agree with me and some, like you, say so.

While I have provided advertising space, beginning in early 1997, to further my goals for The Green Sheet, I believe that the day that an advertising dollar keeps me from saying what I think or reporting on what I believe, then that will be the day that I am being unprofessional. I will also say that I have made it clear to Green Sheet readers that advertising is not an endorsement of any company or product; however, that does not eliminate my ability to express my view on a program that I know, have experience with and have reason to recommend.

Perhaps if I knew more about your program, I would feel the same about it. I must close by telling you that The Green Sheet has always been controversial, and it is likely that as many people disagree with me as those who agree. You should consider this point as a potential advertiser.

We Have Had Lots of Fun Along the Way

While I will say that I have enjoyed many years of letters from readers, many which have been published and many that have asked us not to publish them, the movement from snail mail to e-mail has truly sped up the frequency and directness of your comments:

"Your Web site sucks - not very intuitive!! Still can't figure out where classifieds are."

-Vincent, 12-Year Computer Guru Dear Vincent (aka 12-Year Computer Guru):

A response for the computer-impaired: Type thegreensheet.com, take the left side bar and choose FREE Classified ad. Good hunting!

"I just want to express my appreciation to you for putting out a fine online publication specifically addressing the ISO segment of the Payment Processing Industry. Better education benefits all concerned."

- Sonny McKinney, First Data Merchant Services, Inc.

"Paul, from the very first time I logged onto www.greensheet.com, I was impressed by what a wonderful tool this was for the newbie and the 'guy on the street.' Obviously, there is significant cost and time invested by you in the Forum, and I just want to thank you for these efforts."

- Kent Dusing, tranzaxtions.com

"I've been in the bankcard industry for 10 years and am the hardest person to please, but you've managed to do it! Got your newsletter a couple months ago and hate the nasty jabs some of these bozos send you guys.

"Jealousy is an ugly thing. But am sending you an e-mail [because] viewing your Web site has really put a couple light bulbs in my head. Great place to find people to connect with ... just super. Keep up the good work and to hell with the naysayers."

- H. Beaton

Through the years The Green Sheet has been in a constant state of change, and we would like to believe that it has always changed for the better. This ongoing change has been reflected in various styles and approaches to addressing the information needs of the sales professional as well as continuing efforts to advance the quality and content of all of our publications.

While the vision for an ISO newsletter/magazine has been constant, it has unfolded on an ever changing business landscape, including business acquisitions, an explosion in the number of ISOs and Merchant Level Salespeople and continuing ownership changes in these businesses.

During the last 20 years I have been fortunate enough to have some really terrific people provide support for the growth and improvement of The Green Sheet.

I wish to thank the following contributors:

  • Michelle Schmitz, who singlehandedly wrote sales stories during half of 1991 and '92.
  • Suzanne (Cagnassola) Luse for her fine research and writing efforts over a four-year span.
  • Michele Duane, Christina Shelton, and Janice Wohlert for proofing and proofing and proofing.
  • Dee Rodriguez's team for labeling and stuffing Green Sheets until we could finally afford to have it done professionally.
  • Brad Hargrave for our early Legal Factoid column.
  • Guest writer Tom Hopkins for providing that extra inspiration during 1996, when I really wasn't sure it was all worth it.
  • Patti Murphy and Bob Carr for their longstanding friendship to this publication and for stellar writing and research.
  • Troy Vera, our go-to guy, for anything from layout to graphics (he has well earned his multiple APEX awards for his design work).
  • Kyle Rankin for managing all of our Web assets and for being a well respected "Forum" host.
  • Brandee Cummins for helping to make all the finances work for the betterment of the readership.
  • Danielle Thorpe and Kelly Stewart for making sales and customer service best-in-class departments.
  • Juliette Campeau and Karen Converse, two of the brightest writers in our industry today.
  • Kate Gillespie, the most accurate database administrator anyone could hope for. She manages our circulation database, which changes on an hourly basis.

  • All of our contributing writers (10 currently) as well as our hard-working Advisory Board, 50 outstanding individuals who have been willing to work selflessly for the benefit of the Merchant level Salespeople in our industry.

And, finally, Julie O'Ryan-Dempsey who writes, edits and answers hundreds and hundreds of calls from the readership, and without whom the publications would exude but a fraction of their current professionalism. The Green Sheet has been much better for your combined efforts.

As those of us who work on The Green Sheet pull together each issue, we have a single focus, and that is to tell it as we see it. Our efforts are intended to support the individual Sales Professional and ISO who is trying to make a living in the financial services marketplace and be a voice for those individuals.

If you don't read every word we write, we understand, but keep an eye on us because we never stop changing. As long as I continue to hear from our readers that our efforts are helping their lives, we will be here for you. Thanks for your readership through the years!

Good Selling!SM

Paul H. Green

P.S. I hope you like my anniversary gift to you, our newest book, "Good Selling!SM 2." While you may not find my advice in this book everything you need to improve your life, I have added the method that Ben Franklin used to put his life on track.


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