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Paradata Systems Inc.

MLS contact:

Shannon Byrne, President and CEO
Walter Nirenberg, Vice President, Sales

Company address:

201-1002 Lynham Road
Whistler, BC VON1B1
Web site:

MLS benefits:

  • Established partnerships in place with wide range of technology providers for complete, innovative business solutions
  • Agents supported across entire sales process, both pre- and post sale, on a 24/7/365 live
  • support line
  • For agents, solutions save time, let them meet and exceed merchant expectations and increase revenues through competitive buy rates
  • Private label reseller activation and
  • support pages

They Answer the Phone, and Agents Close More Merchant Deals

Ten years is a long time. In the course of a decade, people age, businesses come and go, technologies advance, industries and markets shift. Ten years is also a long time over which to grow a business, providing plenty of opportunities to adapt, learn and expand.

In payments, where the landscape is altered on a regular basis, successful companies live by a philosophy of flexibility and readiness to try new ways of doing things.

Paradata Systems Inc. has learned many things over the course of the decade it has been doing business. The company provides a wide range of innovative business solutions, based on Internet payment services, for enterprises of all types and sizes.

Since its founding in 1995, Paradata has expanded its offerings and markets through the years by not only incorporating state-of-the-art systems and solutions, but in sticking with a few tried and true business axioms.

One of those is to make complex technology as easy as possible for customers to understand. Another is to support resellers and end-user merchants throughout the life of the relationships, and never compete with them. Another is taking enough time to thoroughly study new ventures to develop effective strategies before jumping in with both feet.

And yet another, so basic that it sounds impossibly too simple, is that whenever the telephone rings, make sure that someone is there to answer each and every call live and in person.

Paradata has placed great importance on this small, but key, element. It's unusual enough among businesses today that the company makes it a point of letting its partners and customers know that when they call Paradata, someone will answer the phone, said Shannon Byrne, the company's co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer.

In fact, Byrne credits her company's strong growth in the United States over the past several years to an in-house staff who actually answers their phones in person. The real success of the company's philosophy is that each call answered translates into a merchant issue resolved.

"When our new partners call and hear a live person answering, they can't believe it," Byrne said. Paradata often receives e-mail from partners saying just that, and how pleasantly surprised and impressed they were by it.

"These kinds of testimonials really reinforce why we exist," she said. "We look at it from the basis that our resellers' and partners' revenues depend on us, and their merchants' revenues depend on us.

"I personally don't think I could sleep at night if we didn't answer the phone 24/7."

Providing such a high level of personal attention in business is rare today, but Paradata has hit on a way to provide highly technical and complex payment solutions while maintaining a down-to-earth approach to dealing with all the people involved in the process, from staff, to partners, clients and merchants.

Paradata, based in British Columbia, supports more than 6,500 merchants in Canada and the United States.

The company provides payment solutions, including gateways, virtual terminals and recurring billing programs and enterprise consulting.

While Paradata serves these merchants in a variety of market segments, its strengths lie in providing services for three areas in particular.

The company has designed solutions that suit the specific needs of government agencies, universities and not-for-profits while providing a wide range of services for any and all Internet-protocol (IP)-connected merchants in card-not-present or card-swipe environments.

"The Internet is now the critical backbone of the payment industry, and will continue to grow," Byrne said. "But Internet payment is not just e-commerce anymore.

"We started out thinking this business would be fully built on e-commerce-based businesses. That is how we got here and why we exist. As time progressed, Internet business also became supporting mail order/telephone order companies, recurring billing and payments companies, and we've now moved into the era of supporting any company who wants to process payments over the Internet.

"There are so many products and services that we promote because we work with so many different retailers within different niche markets," Byrne said.

It's all about supporting customers, Byrne said, and this notion of personal attention might reflect a more relaxed way of doing business that's not only based in Canada, but near a world-class ski resort.

It's no coincidence that Paradata is the only non-ski industry-related business operating in Whistler, BC. Byrne is an avid skier, and the slopes were the reason she chose the location for her company; the company's 30 in-house staff members get two mornings a week throughout the season to ski.

Don't let the ski goggles fool you: Byrne has two degrees in computer science and one in business. Her background in information technology delivery systems enabled her to build a solid foundation on which to grow her company.

The relaxed environment belies the experience and knowledge that Paradata's resellers and customers have come to rely on.

The company bases its services and solutions on the implementation of some very technical processes, but what really matters are its relationships with clients and the clients' customers.

One of the company's main goals is to make the technology involved in the complex transaction processes as simple to understand as possible.

"What we're doing is getting merchants comfortable with technology," said Walter Nirenberg, Paradata's Vice President of Sales.

"We're demystifying the technology aspect for two reasons: To enable the merchant level salesperson (MLS) to focus just on selling and then to allow the merchants themselves to focus on their core business, which is not Web site set-up or management."

In other words, as Nirenberg said, and in keeping with the company's preference to keep things simple, "We try to keep all the squirrels on the treadmill behind the curtain."

Byrne said the company has implemented unique tools to make this happen. Through partnerships and alliances with resellers and third party solution companies, Paradata has bundled packages to address the varying needs of a range of merchants.

These run the gamut from merchants requiring basic credit card processing services to those that want to establish a highly visible e-commerce presence. Paradata has made it as easy as possible for ISOs/MLSs to provide their merchant customers with information about the different options through a sophisticated communications strategy.

A comprehensive training packet for agents contains pre-formatted materials that each reseller can private-label for its sales team. The Reseller Portal and Merchant Integration Kit, which give pre-sale sneak preview demos of the solutions, are available on the company's Web site. ISOs/MLSs and merchants can download and test all of Paradata's products prior to making that commitment to purchase.

"The way we've set it up is to make it as easy as possible for our partners and their customers to use and buy an Internet payment service," Byrne said. "We put a whole merchant-facing portal together for our partners' merchants; all the information is there for them to try out before the sale. We actually support our partners' merchants before and after they've bought."

Paradata's Merchant Integration Kit allows merchants to try out various features of Internet payments and see how they fit with their individual situations. Importantly, though, the company follows through with support after the sale with 24/7 live human-being-in-person customer help-desk service.

Paradata has also come up with another strategy, developing partnerships with other payment solutions providers and then matching those services with individual businesses or industry segments; coordinating and providing third-party services for its partners contributes to a large portion of Paradata's growth.

"We've been creative in what we call our 'niche programs,' in pulling together certain niche market opportunities," Byrne said. "We bring together partners, like marketing companies and resellers, and bundle in a gateway service and anything else we need to make it a one-stop solution for that marketplace."

Byrne said they learn of niche market opportunities mainly by word of mouth, when people call to inquire if they're interested in a certain type of market; they also seek out and research different segmented markets as well.

She detailed a noteworthy program that Paradata implemented in conjunction with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). NFIB is an advocacy group representing 600,000 small businesses in the United States that look to the association for recommendations on products and services.

In the NFIB program, Solveras Payment Systems provides the merchant account processing; Paradata provides the gateway service and brought in a shopping cart solution and a Web hosting company.

Because Paradata takes a very serious stance on security issues, it certifies all of its integrated solutions with card Association compliance programs, sometimes going beyond what the rest of the industry is doing.

As the provider, it's critical for Paradata to ensure the security of all systems so agents can concentrate on selling, and merchants can concentrate on running their businesses.

"We fully support all marketplace initiatives," Nirenberg said. "We're on a constant mission to identify, evaluate and integrate different security protocols."

He cited payer authentication as an example. ""We did a pre-emptive integration and became the first fully integrated auth-bridge in the world for Visa's, MasterCard's and JCB's platforms. We embrace the protocols that are available, do a proactive integration and then promote them through our resellers to the merchant end users," he said.

For a company that provides complex technical solutions and processes, Paradata's low-key approach to offering the high quality products and services not only gives its clients secure, state-of-the-art customized solutions, it also gives people working at Paradata great satisfaction in what they do each and every day.

Three core values define the philosophy behind Paradata: You must be happy to come to work and happy to leave. You must be hungry to make a difference no matter who you are. You must want to learn every day.

The company might also consider adding a few more to that list: Give your customers the best solution possible for their particular situation. Hit the slopes. Answer the phone.

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