Make way for the dynamic duo. Clover, a subsidiary of First Data, has teamed up with Ignite Payments to offer the Clover Station, a cloud-based open business operating system. The Station allows merchants to track inventory, manage employees, build lasting customer relationships, and accept payments. In a recent podcast interview with Noel Fundora, Senior VP of Ignite Payments, and Mark Schulze, co-founder of Clover, MPD CEO Karen Webster got the scoop on the companies’ partnership and how they believe they are revolutionizing the payments space.
KW: First of all, Noel, what makes Ignite different from other agent programs that exist in the acquiring space?
NF: What really sets us apart is, first of all, financial stability. Ignite Payments is wholly owned by First Data – that in itself gives a level of security to our agents. When agents build a portfolio, that revenue, or that residual, is going to be there for them next month, next year, and in five years.
We also have some very unique, sophisticated online tools that set us apart. These are things like true revenue share programs and a philosophy where our agents are true partners to us. Our systems are also capable of next-day funding, one of the hottest things out there. This provides us the ability to be extremely competitive in the marketplace.
KW: On the solution side, Clover is a very interesting solution that you’ve brought into Ignite Payments and is available through the agent network to merchants. I imagine that brings in a whole new set of merchant capabilities to those who have an interest in it. Mark, can you tell us a little more about Clover and what makes it different from other integrated tablet solutions?
MS: When we started Clover a couple years ago, we spent a good year of our time listening to merchants and agents, and really understanding their needs. What we found in the POS space is a market characterized by low-end payment terminals and high-end, expensive point-of-sale systems that were server-based and not connected to the cloud. Merchants looked at the low-end, wanting better computing systems at a reasonable cost. Then they looked at the high-end and said that technology has changed, especially as people experiment with tablets.
Clover is essentially three things. It’s a well-priced, elegant piece of hardware, an Android tablet with a custom stand and scope as well as Ethernet and wifi, and it’s also a POS software platform that offers all of the core things that merchants need like running secure transactions, to record keeping, to analytics, and more. We’ve also opened it up as a platform with an app store.
KW: So, Noel and Mark, this is a question that really relates to the type of merchant that Clover is suitable for and the economics of serving that category of merchant. There’s been a lot in the news lately about the difficulties of monetizing the very small micro merchants. What merchants are you guys targeting?
MS: We primarily target small to medium businesses. When we built Clover, our primary focus was on the merchants doing a bit more volume than the micro merchants. So, things like Ethernet connectivity becomes really important – so we built a system that’s been “hardened” if you will for those larger, small merchants.
NF: Ignite Payments has always been an entity that’s served the SMB market. Clover is what I call a game-changer – the app store, the capability to have a platform that can grow as your business needs change – that’s unheard of. These types of things are what I believe are what can make a difference addressing the changing landscape, especially as SMBs need more help than ever in servicing their clients.
KW: It is important for small and medium size merchants to have the same tools as the larger merchants do, I agree. I am curious with respect to the sales cycle, give us a sense of how easy or complicated this is to sell.
NF: From a sales perspective, just to have a product that you can put in front of a merchant and have the merchant essentially sell it to himself is amazing. We’ve also gotten great feedback from merchants on how this has really benefited them, and changed the way they do business completely.
MS: It’s very rewarding to hear that. I think the reason that it’s resonating with merchants is because the solution is merchant-driven. We didn’t just sit around in Silicon Valley and invent something. We actually engaged with merchants for a long time, and listened to them. They were looking for a better solution, but they weren’t sure what that was until we built Clover.
KW: So what are you hearing from agents who talk to merchants about Clover? What do they come back and tell you?
NF: The conversation with the merchant has changed. We have started re-teaching our agents to present Clover’s solutions and value to merchants. Now, you are offering a solution that can be used to help grow and execute their business, and it’s a different mindset. Again, it’s a game changer.
For more on the how Ignite Payments and Clover are helping merchants better manage their businesses and enable payment, listen to the full podcast here. Additional information can be found at www.ignitepayments.com/paypodcast. or (888) 335-2137