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NAOPP's New President Embraces New Position

On March 10, 2005, the National Association of Payment Professionals (NAOPP), a not-for-profit membership-based trade association for merchant level salespeople (MLSs), elected new officers to the Board of Directors ("NAOPP Announces New Leadership," The Green Sheet, April 11, 2005, issue 05:04:01).

Matthew Swinnerton, an MLS based in Austin, Texas and working with POS Card Systems, will serve as President of the organization for the 2005 - 2006 term. The Green Sheet recently had the opportunity to interview Swinnerton.

The Green Sheet: How did you get started in this industry?

Matthew Swinnerton: About eight years ago, I worked for Time Warner Cable as a salesperson. My former manager started selling credit card processing services and asked me if I wanted to work with him.

At the time I wasn't interested, but when my wife and I planned to move from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz, Calif., I was looking for a job ... I began my career with Lynk, and then worked with companies including Cardservice International, Executive Bankcard Services, Imperial Bank (which later became Comerica).

For the last two years, I've worked with POS Card Systems.

In the beginning, I was a rep for an agent, and I just kept [eliminating] the middleman. Now I'm basically my own agent, and it's worked out well for me.

GS: Why did you get involved with NAOPP?

MS: In the last few years, I've realized that the more I get involved in the industry, the better. I get to know more people and have access to more information.

About two years ago, I started to go to all the regional shows I could, and I met many people from NAOPP. It's really the only organization out there for the MLS, the feet-on-the-street salesperson.

I wanted to get more involved. Whatever industry you're in, the more involved you are, the better you'll become at what you do. I began participating in NAOPP's conference calls, and then I became the Communications Chairperson before being elected President.

GS: As an MLS, how has NAOPP helped you?

MS: By being involved in this organization, I get to talk to people that I might never have talked to before. And in turn, I receive a lot of great information, have more contacts and have developed new vendor relationships.

GS: Why did you want to be President of the organization, and what do you hope to accomplish?

MS: There was a need for a real MLS to fill the position. NAOPP will be a good vehicle to help MLSs, and as an MLS I have a lot of ideas for helping the feet on the street. I also want to help change any negative perception of NAOPP. NAOPP has a lot to offer MLSs.

GS: What will your duties be?

MS: I run the Board meetings, and I serve as the voice for the NAOPP Board. The time I spent with the organization before becoming President was about two hours a day. Now I spend about three and a half hours of my day working on NAOPP issues and making calls. It's very time consuming.

It probably requires more time now than in the future, because we're trying to get all our ducks in a row for things to run smoothly. Right now we're really working hard to create an organization that has structure, a formula to move forward.

GS: What is your relationship like with the other board members?

MS: I've known about 75% of the Board, whether personally or professionally, before we came together. I really like and respect all of them. This group has so much energy, it's amazing. It spreads to all of us, and I'm glad to be a part of this group.

GS: In April, NAOPP announced the hiring of an Executive Director, a newly created position (see "Trade Association News: 2005 Association Mid-year Activities in Full Swing," The Green Sheet, April 25, 2005, issue 05:04:02). How will this benefit the organization?

MS: By hiring an Executive Director, things are now working like clockwork. It's probably one of the biggest things we've done so far in helping our organization. All of us on the Board also have to run our day-to-day businesses. It's really hard to get everything accomplished. But with help from an Executive Director, we can focus on and complete one task at a time.

GS: What are NAOPP's goals for 2005 - 2006?

MS: We're focused on improving ongoing communication with members as well as education and benefits for them.

In the past, e-mail blasts to let members know what's going on have not always worked. We've hired a company to do that for us. And we're working on a welcome package for members. Members need to know what the Board is working on and all the benefits available to them. For instance, NAOPP helps its members save $180 dollars to attend ETA's Annual Meeting and Expo.

We're also working to implement educational programs with the regional acquirers' associations this year. We're really excited about it. The first will be at the Northeast Acquirers' Association where we'll go deep into interchange and registration and compliance issues for MLSs. Currently, there's a lot of confusion among MLSs about these topics.

Right now we have about 225 members, and our goal is to get to 1,000 members in the next year. One way we hope to do this is by talking to all the different ISOs to see if they will work with us to bring their agents on board.MLSs who are NAOPP members will be better agents. They'll be better informed, educated and in turn, ISOs will have a better salesperson selling for them.

E-mail Matthew Swinnerton at matt@msdirect.net or call him at 512-255-9791.

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