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First Data Corp.'s TeleCheck Services, Inc.

MLS contact:

Strategic Distribution

Company address:

5251 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77056

MLS benefits:

  • As a subsidiary of First Data Corp., provides merchants with comprehensive POS solutions, including check guarantee and verification, electronic check authorization and access to the largest database of check writer information
  • Designated infrastructure to support sales channels, including channel marketing materials and training
  • Field reps available for merchant visits and on-site support
  • Provides comprehensive training and marketing support materials

A Personal Approach To Agent Relationships From An Industry Giant

You see this company's name on decals near cash registers and on front windows in businesses everywhere. More than likely, when you write a check at the grocery store, the auto repair shop, or the doctor's office, those businesses subscribe to its verification and guarantee services. Even businesses that accept checks by mail and phone or over the Internet depend on this company's experience and the comprehensive list of options it offers to merchants.

First Data's TeleCheck Services, Inc. is the hands-down industry leader in paper and electronic check guarantee, verification, conversion and collection. The company helps its subscribing merchants reduce the risk of bad checks and recoup lost revenues when customers don't make good on them.

TeleCheck has been in the business of guaranteeing checks that customers write to merchants for 40 years. The company has grown from a small regional operation with an original idea into the ubiquitous name in check verification.

In 2002, TeleCheck authorized over $183 billion worth of checks, representing 3.6 billion transactions at 375,000 merchant locations. TeleCheck also settled more than $6.1 billion in electronic transactions and electronically processed over 124 million transactions for its merchant base that year.

NACHA-The Electronic Payments Association awarded TeleCheck the 2003 Kevin O'Brien ACH Quality Award in recognition of its successes in implementing quality Automated Clearing House (ACH) processes. And the company maintains the industry's largest database of check writer information.

The check guarantee industry got its start in an unlikely setting-in Honolulu, in 1964. A group of merchants discovered they had all taken bad checks from the same person. They decided to pool all the information they had on other check writers and make a business of selling it.

They came up with the idea of offering a $15 guarantee limit associated with that information on bad check writers. Within the first year, hundreds of Hawaiian merchants were participating in the service.

By 1970, TeleCheck was expanding and selling franchises throughout the United States; the company later added franchises in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Since its founding, the company has pursued innovative technologies to make the process of check guarantee more accurate-TeleCheck introduced the industry's first check reader and check database, check imaging capabilities and the first online predictive risk model in the checking industry.

In 1995, TeleCheck became the check acceptance arm and a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Data Corp; it currently has sales and service network offices in 90 U.S. cities. Thanks to that affiliation, TeleCheck is also able to provide subscribing retailers with access to the rest of First Data's extensive merchant services.

As part of First Data, TeleCheck contributes to one of the most comprehensive set of POS services available in the marketplace. The marriage of check guarantee and processing within the First Data entity is seamless and provides plenty of flexible options for Merchant Level Salespeople (MLSs) to offer their merchants.

Thanks also to its relationships with large national retailers, thousands of small businesses and financial institutions, the TeleCheck database of check writer information is the industry's largest, which it uses to compare and analyze the likelihood of a check's authenticity.

Each transaction contributes to the quality of information and the value of the database; the company says it has more accurate records than any other. The database is online so that merchants get information in real time.

Like other check guarantee and verification services, the TeleCheck system compares information about a check to information in its proprietary database and helps businesses make decisions whether to accept a check or not.

Unlike other check guarantee and verification services, though, TeleCheck offers merchants the advantages of its history and tenure as the industry leader, the scope of its relationship with First Data and the ability to create a customized overall payment solution based on the needs of a particular business.

For MLSs, this means being able to create specific packages for any type of merchant they would approach, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. The company's goal is to provide a one-stop-shop by offering solutions from First Data's processing product lines as well as check verification. This contributes to good merchant retention and increases profit centers for sales reps.

TeleCheck covers everything to do with accepting checks and provides solutions that touch every aspect of check verification and all facets of the check itself. Their services are flexible and can work in virtually any retail location.

It offers programs for merchants and businesses of all sizes and types and provides equipment and back-end systems that reduce the risk of taking checks from customers for transactions at the point of sale, for recurring billing and accounts receivable, e-commerce and business-to-business.

TeleCheck's overall administrative return rate for point-of-purchase transactions is below the industry average; in fact, it has contributed to the improvement in the overall industry rate reduction to 0.25% in Q4 2002, down from 0.54% in Q1 2001.

First Data's TeleCheck Eclipse proprietary terminal is designed specifically to run the variety of features incorporated into its programs. The standard check guarantee program is certified on 90 - 95% of the POS terminals through which First Data can process.

The Eclipse is not the only terminal enabled to run electronic check conversion, though.

TeleCheck solutions benefit a wide variety of markets; the company has created check programs to suit the special needs of each business and niche segment; these programs are designed to minimize the risk of accepting bad checks and to help all its subscribing merchants successfully collect on returned checks.

First Data's industry-specific solutions work for all sorts of businesses, whether at the point of sale, over the phone or electronically. National retail chains as well as independent merchants; grocery stores; gaming establishments; and accounts receivable markets all benefit from subscribing to First Data and TeleCheck services.

Direct marketers can take checks over the phone; e-commerce merchants can accept them over the Internet.

Financial institutions can also utilize TeleCheck's services to help them run their own programs; they can take advantage of features such as new account screening, lost and stolen check reporting and protection and collection on DDA account overdrafts before they are charged off.

TeleCheck's presence in the market means it receives and stores a lot of information, which it can then pass along to subscribers.

For instance, two services, TeleCheck's Multiple Inquiry Alert and Red Alert, provide early warnings on potentially troublesome accounts so that financial institutions can monitor those accounts and their activity in order to make sound business decisions.

There are some areas where TeleCheck's services do not extend, however. For example, the company authorizes and approves checks written for goods and services only.

Because there are no existing rules or regulations covering the premise of cash back and no recourse for collection, it won't verify for check cashing at ATMs; there is no recourse for collection.

Working with TeleCheck, as the premier check guarantee and verification provider, gives MLSs a competitive advantage in the market. Its full array of check authorization services adds another dimension to the solutions it already provides for all non-cash products, including EBT, for the vast majority of its subscribing merchants.

It's easy for MLSs to come on board with TeleCheck. Every MLS gets a dedicated team assigned to them, which is essentially a four-member staff to handle client business, management and marketing.

Along with that proactive support, there is a revenue sharing component built into the sales agreements, and residuals are paid monthly.

The ISO/MLS community is important to the growth and success of TeleCheck and First Data overall. Each division has departments within them with the sole purpose of supporting and promoting this channel.

When MLSs sign on with TeleCheck, they go through extensive training so that they gain a full understanding of the process.

Operations training covers the entire framework and process flow, from sales and accounts to contracts-everything from signing to implementation. TeleCheck also supports its sales channels with field and merchant on-site visits.

Working aggressively with its existing partners is a priority for the company; the strategy is to enable those First Data ISO partners (First Data Merchant Services, Paymentech, Chase Merchant Services) with another First Data product-TeleCheck Services.

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