Founded in Palm Springs, Calif., in 1990, First American Payment Systems LP landed in Fort Worth, Texas, three years later. This is when ISO venture veteran Neil Randel joined the executive team. Since then, the company has grown to more than 400 partners and now serves roughly 140,000 merchants in the United States and Canada, the company noted.
But starting a payment processing business nearly 25 years ago was not without challenge. One hurdle early on was the splintering effect of bundled merchant services. Typically, when payment processors established multiple third-party contracts, each had separate service centers, making it difficult to establish a consistent merchant experience. Randel's vision was to develop First American into a single-source provider through internal development and acquisition.
"His vision is exemplified today with an in-house product and service suite, proprietary back-end settlement platform and a full-service support center," said John Newton, Vice President of Sales, Strategic Partner Channel for First American. "Understanding that the needs of today's businesses will continue to change, First American continues to bring new payment solutions to market."
Recent examples include First American's expanded relationship with Discover Financial Services to enable PayPal Inc. acceptance at brick-and-mortar locations. It also launched a cloud-based tablet POS system, 1stPayPOS, with advanced features for automated sales tax calculation, sales analytics and reporting. In addition, its M+Terminal mobile app serves multiple locations, Newton noted.
Randel, who is now Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at First American, said at the time of the tablet launch, "Our merchants are enthusiastic about 1stPayPOS as a way to track cash and credit sales and provide their customers with more payment options such as PayPal retail cards."
The company also continues to enhance its traditional offerings, including credit and debit card, check, gift card, automated clearing house (ACH), ATM and online processing, as well as POS equipment programs. Its e-commerce gateway enables merchants to process recurring credit and ACH transactions, and build full-service websites with customized payment pages.
First American offers comprehensive tools and support to help ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) operate their businesses, whether large or small. According to Newton, the company assigns high-level business strategy consultants to work with sales partners, its daily support team assists agents in the field and its merchant support center offers around the clock service.
All processes connected with merchant boarding and support are managed in-house, including merchant underwriting, ongoing risk assessment, chargeback facilitation, product development and customer service. Partners also have some latitude with merchant pricing through First American's proprietary merchant settlement platform, which permits ISOs to customize pricing based on any number of scenarios, the company stated.
Digital tools help speed the application process and manage MLS activity. "FirstonBoard empowers sales representatives to digitally sign merchant applications through a secure email verification process, as well as in-person via a phone, tablet or laptop," Newton noted. "Partners of all sizes can utilize reporting hierarchy to manage sales representatives and partners within the Daily Dashboard and within exportable residual commission files."
Daily Dashboard, First American's web portal, provides such tools as digital merchant on-boarding, instant email and text alerts, portfolio analysis and marketing. It also offers real-time access to pricing models, insight into the boarding process, merchant statements and residual reporting.
First American is flexible in other ways, too. "Through strategic relationships with multiple authorization networks, First American enables sales representatives to board virtually any point-of-sale equipment on the market," Newton said. "This flexibility carries over into First American's ability to offer customized ISO, Agent and Affiliate programs."
With a same-day credit decision and 24-hour deployment policy, turnaround time for merchant activation is speedy. And in 2014, First American plans to offer instant underwriting. Newton noted that a partner application programming interface will become available in 2014 as well.
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