It's a new era here at The Green Sheet Inc., as Paul H. Green steps down from the company he founded, and Kate Gillespie assumes ownership, along with the titles of President and Chief Executive Officer. Gillespie is an industry pro who has been the face of The Green Sheet at conferences and other industry events since becoming Chief Operating Officer and General Manager in 2005.
The company will continue to operate under The Green Sheet moniker, and the print edition of its twice-monthly magazine will retain its distinctive green hue. Green will support the company in an advisory role, and has assumed the title of Publisher Emeritus.
"When I began The Green Sheet back in 1983, merchant acquiring was a nascent industry. And as the industry grew both in size and importance, so did The Green Sheet. Today we are the most read publication in this industry," Green said. "Kate has played critical roles at The Green Sheet for over a decade, and I feel she is uniquely qualified to uphold and advance The Green Sheet tradition."
Green is largely credited with being the godfather of merchant acquiring, launching the first ISO for selling card services (known as AMCOR) in 1979. The Green Sheet publication, titled the same as the company, began essentially as a newsletter Green wrote and photocopied (on the signature green paper still used today) for merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who worked with him, as well as other interested colleagues. Over time, the readership grew throughout the industry and the publication grew, too.
In 1999, The Green Sheet published Good SellingSM. The book, authored by Green, quickly became a must read for ISOs and MLSs. That was followed four years later by Good SellingSM 2: Thirteen Weeks to Personal Success, also authored by Green.
Quarterly reports addressing topical industry issues and known as GSQs were added to the mix in 1998. "It was a heady time," Green said. "Merchant acquiring was charting phenomenal growth. One of our first undertakings was to track that growth. At the time, $1 billion was a large book of business, and one of our first GSQs featured a handful of acquirers with portfolios of $1 billion, or more. These days, the largest companies are acquiring 100 times that or more in Visa- and MasterCard-branded credit and debit card transactions. And a growing share of that comes from e-commerce."
"This is an exciting time to be involved in payments and the merchant acquiring space," Gillespie said. "Things are changing at an incredible pace in all areas of this business. But one thing that will never change is The Green Sheet's commitment to being the definitive source for informing and educating the feet on the street. Paul Green has been an inspiration to thousands of sales professionals, myself included. I look forward to his guidance and support as we continue to grow the company and our product set to meet the evolving needs of this important business sector."
Members of the staff at The Green Sheet said they are excited, too, about the change. "Kate is one of the most capable people I know, and I'm honored to be on her team as she takes ownership of The Green Sheet," said Laura McHale Holland, Assistant Vice President for Editorial.
"Kate really has a feel for where the industry is going," added IT Director Wolf Dean Stiles. "Her position at The Green Sheet gives her both an excellent information gathering apparatus, as well as a strong voice for advocating on behalf of the industry."
"Under Kate's guidance, we have been at the forefront of emerging technology and explored uncharted territory in the payments industry," said Staff Writer Ann Train. "As professional writers, we are all fortunate for her guidance and professionalism."
"I have worked closely with Kate for many years; I consider her not only my boss, but a dear friend," added Danielle Thorpe, Assistant Vice President, Media Partnerships. "Her style, class and business savvy make her a triple threat. I am excited to see what the future holds for The Green Sheet with her leading the way."
As she assumes ownership of The Green Sheet, Gillespie joins a growing army of women business owners. The most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau (which covers 2007) indicates women owned 7.8 million nonfarm businesses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that year.
By 2013, that number had grown to 8.6 million businesses that, combined, employed 7.8 million people and generated nearly $1.3 trillion in annual revenues, according to a report by American Express Co. titled 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Between 1997 and 2013 the total of women-owned startups grew at a rate 1.5 times faster than the national average, AmEx noted.
Gillespie first met Green in 1999 after answering a classified ad placed by CrossCheck Inc., a check company that he co-owned at the time. The Green Sheet magazine was produced at CrossCheck then, and although she was hired as an administrative assistant, not an editorial staffer, Gillespie was soon enlisted to help get the publication out.
"I've always enjoyed research and writing and thought someday I'd like to try my hand at publishing, so when I saw they needed help with The Green Sheet I jumped right in," Gillespie said. One of her first journalistic assignments was to research and write a GSQ on the use of biometrics in payments.
It didn't take long for Green to recognize Gillespie's journalistic talents. She quickly moved up through the ranks, serving stints as Assistant Managing Editor, Circulation Manager, Assistant Vice President for Production and Circulation, and Vice President of Production and Circulation. She was named General Manager and Chief Operating Officer in 2005, assuming responsibilities for day-to-day operations of the company as Green entered semi-retirement.
The Green Sheet has continued to grow under Gillespie's management, adding Selling Prepaid in 2007 and expanding the company's online presence to become the most visited site on the web for news, information, sales leads and professional dialogues related to merchant acquiring and payments.
The Green Sheet has also been recognized for excellence in journalism every year since Gillespie became General Manager, continuing a tradition begun 13 years ago. The APEX Awards, given out yearly by Communications Concepts Inc. to honor excellence in publishing and writing, attract thousands of entries every year. Since its entries were first submitted for consideration in 2001, The Green Sheet and its staff have received a total of 50 APEX Awards. This year, Gillespie received an APEX Award for "GS Remembers," an article she penned for the Aug. 26, 2013, issue that paid tribute to late Jim McCaffrey, former Staff Writer for The Green Sheet. "The article she was honored for speaks volumes about Kate as a writer, a boss and a friend," said Senior Editor Patti Murphy. "Kate hired Jim for his knowledge and experience, which served The Green Sheet well. They soon became friends, too. Her tribute was an eloquent expression of the loss she felt, both from a business and personal standpoint. I, like many others at The Green Sheet and among our readers, consider Kate a dear friend and the most apt person to guide the company going forward."
"One of the things I admire most about Kate is her judgment," added Holland. "As a manager she has a keen sense of when to advise, when to console, when to cajole, when to intervene and when to just leave things alone."
Gillespie said she has no plans for changing the company's winning formula for providing information and inspiration to the ISO and MLS communities. She added, however, that the company will continue to grow and advance the types of educational and other resources that can help ISOs and MLSs improve business and advance their careers.
"Like ISOs and other payments businesses, media companies have had to adapt to survive these past several years," Gillespie noted. "I am proud of how we've been able to adapt and grow here at The Green Sheet, and I'm equally excited to have this opportunity to build on our accomplishments. The Green Sheet will continue providing education and other valuable tools that support and encourage development of the ISO and MLS communities."
"Kate has been a valuable asset from the earliest days," Green said. "She has never been afraid to just jump in and manage the task at hand, from the most mundane administrative routines to launching new ventures. She's done a magnificent job of guiding and growing the company these past nine years, amid some of the most trying of economic times. That's why I'm confident she is the right person to take The Green Sheet into the future."
"This is a new chapter in my life and for The Green Sheet," Gillespie said. "This industry is going through sea changes. The digital world is changing the ways we socialize, communicate, learn and conduct business. Some people look at these and other changes that are brewing and fear catastrophic consequences for merchant services providers and other traditional payments businesses."
But Gillespie does not count herself among that crowd. "Our industry's ability to adapt to changing market conditions has proven itself again and again," Gillespie said. "That's one of the exciting things about this business. It's what keeps drawing people into the business. So, if you don't like the way things are changing today, just wait around because it will change again. Or better yet, be the one to make the change." And, of course, The Green Sheet will be there to report the story.
When The Green Sheet was first published in 1983, the newsletter business was entering a period of rapid growth, not unlike merchant acquiring. The Green Sheet rode that growth curve, and kept on growing for three decades while thousands of other publications came and went. Here's a quick overview of events in payments and merchant acquiring over the past 31 years.
October 1986: Transactions on general purpose credit cards total 3.64 billion, most done on imprinters (knucklebusters).
April 1994: The National Automated Clearing House Association pilots check truncation.
July 1995: First Financial Management Corp., owners of Nabanco and TeleCheck (the biggest check guarantee company at the time), plan to merge with First Data Corp., which recently purchased Card Establishment Services Inc., the CitiCorp Bankcard spinoff. It's expected the combined organization will control 53.8 percent of all bankcard acceptance in the United States.
September 1996: The Bankcard Services Association changes its name to the Electronic Transactions Association.
March 1997: The National Retail Federation joins Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co., and The Limited Inc. in a multibillion dollar antitrust lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard challenging the companies' "honor all cards" rules.
December 1997: The Green Sheet unveils its third annual check study, indicating that Americans still love writing checks.
October 1998: The U.S. Department of Justice files suit against Visa and MasterCard challenging "exclusionary" rules that have prohibited Visa and MasterCard banks from also issuing American Express or Discover cards. The DOJ won the case in 2001, and the verdict was upheld on appeal.
January – December 1999: Fears of massive computer glitches from the calendar change to a new century (Y2K) preoccupy much of the industry. Thousands of IT experts stand watch over card networks as the New Year dawns. No glitches were reported.
August 2000: E-sign legislation is approved; e-signatures are given the same legal status as signatures on paper contracts.
December 2000: GSQ estimates the top six merchant acquirers will have handled over $845 billion in Visa and MasterCard credit and debit card transactions this year.
March 2001: First Data reveals plans to acquire TASQ Technology Inc.
February 2002: The Green Sheet reports that PayPal Inc. debuted on Nasdaq, becoming the first Internet stock offering of the year, as well as the first successful stock offering in many months from a profitless Internet company.
May 2002: The Australian government plans to cap EFTPOS interchange fees.
February 2003: A group calling itself the National Association of Payment Professionals (created for the feet on the street) schedules its first conference; NAPP eventually folds. April 2003: First Data agrees to purchase Concord EFS Inc. for about $7 billion.
September 2003: Intuit Inc., the company behind QuickBooks accounting software, acquires Innovative Merchant Solutions.
October 2004: The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21) takes effect, setting into motion the final steps needed for a mass transition from paper to electronic check clearing.
December 2004: Discover Network buys the Pulse debit network for $311 million. United Bank Card becomes the first ISO to offer free card terminals.
October 2005: First Data and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announce Chase Paymentech LP, a merchant services joint venture. The venture is terminated after three years; JPMorgan Chase takes Paymentech in house. MasterCard begins trading on the NYSE; its IPO raises $2.4 billion.
July 2006: MasterCard International changes its name to MasterCard Worldwide.
October 2006: Heartland Payment Systems Inc. publishes its Merchant Bill of Rights.
January 2007: Morgan Stanley states it will spin off Discover Financial Services, with a planned IPO in the third quarter.
February 2007: A computer intrusion at mega-retailer TJX Co. Inc. exposes millions of consumers' credit and debit card information.
April 2007: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. announces purchase of First Data for $29 billion.
June 2007: Arkansas caps early termination fees for merchant contracts in that state at $50, or one month's minimum charge.
September 2007: AdvanceMe Inc. loses patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court, paving the way for widespread sales of merchant cash advances by ISOs and their partners.
April 2008: Visa goes public with the biggest IPO in U.S. history to date. Discover purchases Diners Club International Ltd. from Citigroup Inc. for $165 million.
July 2008: Visa caps interchange rates for debit and prepaid fuel transactions to help lower costs for oil companies and service stations.
January 2009: Heartland reveals it has suffered a breach that rivals any breach of card data to date, anywhere.
July 2009: Bank of America and First Data, form Bank America Merchant Services.
October 2010: Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., tacks an amendment onto the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, instructing the Federal Reserve to cap debit card interchange rates, effective October 2011. A coalition of merchants, led by the NRF, subsequently takes the Fed to court over its implementation of the Durbin Amendment; a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the retailers' arguments and rules in favor of the Fed in March 2014.
December 2010: The Fed releases results of its third triennial survey of noncash payments, covering 2009. At 37.5 billion debit cards outstrip all other forms of noncash payments that year. The Fed reported 19.5 billion credit card payments in 2009, 1.3 billion prepaid card transactions, and 24.5 billion checks paid.
January 2011: Total System Services Inc. acquires First National Merchant Services, the merchant acquiring arm of First National Bank of Omaha.
August 2011: VeriFone completes its acquisition of terminal manufacturer Hypercom Corp. following a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice under which Hypercom divests its U.S. payment systems business to The Gores Group LLC.
March 2012: Leading acquirer Global Payments Inc. reveals it has been victimized by a data breach that may have compromised as many as 1.5 million North American bankcard accounts.
August 2012: A consortium of some of the nation's largest retailers forms the Merchant Customer Exchange to create a comprehensive, retailer-friendly mobile payment solution.
November 2012: A federal judge in New York grants preliminary approval of a $7.25 billion out-of-court settlement of a class action alleging Visa and MasterCard had overcharged retailers on interchange.
April 2013: All U.S. acquirers must now be able to support EMV chip card acceptance; most merchants have until October 2015 to install compliant terminals.
December 2013: The Fed reports debit card payments grew 13 percent between 2003 and 2012; credit cards grew 5.1 percent and the total number of checks paid fell 7.6 percent during that same period. Prepaid debit cards posted huge gains, increasing from 1.3 billion transactions in 2009 to 3.1 billion in 2012.
March 2014: Legislation mandating EMV adoption by retailers and acquirers operating in California is introduced in the California state senate.
April 2014: The European Union votes to cap credit card interchange.
May 2014: Leading acquirer Vantiv Inc. purchases Mercury Payment Systems LLC, a relatively new ISO, for $1.65 billion.
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