Sterling Looks to Take Payments Technology to the Next Level

Sterling Payment Technologies is aiming to join the ranks of the premier merchant acquiring processors. Helping to lead this drive and the company’s pursuit of innovation in payments technology is Stephen Kane, Sterling’s new Senior Executive Officer, Business Development, Mergers and Acquisitions. Stephen sat down with to provide an overview of Sterling and to discuss successful business strategies for driving developments in payments technology. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into payments and what it means to be Senior Executive Officer, Business Development, Mergers and Acquisitions at Sterling Payment Technologies?

STEPHEN KANE: In 1987, I became General Counsel of First Financial Management Corporation (FFMC), which was at that time a financial institution data processing service bureau providing data processing services to community banks, credit unions and mortgage processing companies. We had been looking at the payments space for some time and had the opportunity to buy NABANCO, a merchant acquiring processor based in Ft. Lauderdale based that had been a spinout from Contel. As a result of this acquisition, we did an extensive amount of acquisitions of merchant acquiring divisions of financial institutions, including Bank of New York, Southeast Bank, Electro Data Corporation, Bank of Boston, Security Pacific, Citizens Fidelity, just to name a few and grew NABANCO into the largest merchant acquiring processor in the United States until FFMC was sold to First Data in November 1995.

I then became involved with PMT Services of Nashville, Tenn., until we sold PMT to NOVA and then I went on NOVA’s board of directors until we sold NOVA to U.S. Bank. I have subsequently been involved with First American Payment Systems, LP, from 2003 to 2008. I joined Sterling in October 2010 as the Senior Executive Officer in charge of Business Development. My job entails the development of our long-term payment strategy and originating and orchestrating all mergers and acquisitions as well as their associated financing.

PYMNTS: What was most attractive about Sterling Payment Technologies, and what was the driving factor to join the team?

KANE: Sterling has always had a great reputation for technology and technology development and the potential to become a premier merchant acquiring processor. Obviously, I have known and admired Paul Hunter and his senior management team for what they have built as well as their reputation in the payment industry for high integrity and superlative customer service. I view this opportunity as a way to assist them in taking Sterling to the next level.

PYMNTS: is all about “what’s next” in payments. How will you, in your role, help Sterling Payment Technologies define “what’s next”?

KANE: One of the greatest aspects to the payment industry is its rapid growth and development. It is heavily influenced by changing technology and the future looks even more interesting than the past. Part of my role and mission is to look at evolving technology and ensure that we are on the leading, not bleeding, edge of technology to service our merchant base with the latest and most appropriate form of technology commensurate with the requirements of their business and future growth of their business. Some of these requirements will be development efforts, and others will be an acquisition opportunity of new technology coupled with an existing infrastructure to deliver effectively and efficiently such technology.

PYMNTS: Who or what has been your biggest influence in your career?

KANE: Individuals for most of us are the single most important influences in our career and I would have to name two individuals who had the most influence, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the tremendous influence that I have received working with a significant number of CEO’s and other business leaders. I think we are truly influenced by everyone we work with and we pick up individual aspects and traits from every single person. In my case, the following had the most significant influence:

a. My father, Dr. Wendell Lockwood Kane, physician, surgeon, medical school professor, military figure, politician, farmer, outdoorsman, real estate developer and devoted family man. My father had and demonstrated that there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance and that anyone could excel if they were more committed and worked harder than the competition. Despite his spending 12 to 18 hours a day in the practice of medicine, with his father and later with my older brother, he always had time to support and encourage his children in a positive and constructive fashion.

b. Patrick H. Thomas, former Chairman, President and CEO of FFMC was unequivocally the best public company CEO that I have ever been around or been associated with. His ability to manage diverse management teams post acquisition allowed us to grow at exponential rates without total integration. His attention to details and anticipation and planning skills were superb. His track record speaks for itself, and the business skills that I learned will last me a lifetime.



Executive Bio: Stephen D. Kane, who has invested in Sterling, will be responsible for identifying and executing mergers, acquisitions, arranging financings and establishing a relationship with a major private equity partner for Sterling Payment, an area in which he has extensive experience. He has completed over 160 acquisitions in the last 25 years and has worked with a number of the leading private equity firms in the U.S. In addition, Mr. Kane has served on the boards of ENDATA Corporation (NASDAQ:NDATA), First Financial Management Corporation (NYSE:FFM), PMT Services (NASDAQ:PMT), NOVA Corporation (NYSE:NIS) and First American Payment Systems, LP.


Mr. Kane first developed his business management and acquiring skills during his 15-year tenure at American General Life Insurance Company, the fourth largest stock life insurance company in the U.S. In 1984, he joined a small group of executives who completed a leveraged buyout of an American General technology subsidiary, NLTCS, took it public (NASDAQ:NDATA) and grew it substantially through multiple acquisitions. In 1987 he sold Endata to FFMC, then one of the fastest growing public companies in the U.S. and focused on the transaction processing industry. FFMC became the largest U.S. merchant acquirer as the parent company of NaBanco, and also owned TeleCheck, Western Union, MicroBilt and several other major companies. While at FFMC, Kane served in positions of increasing responsibility and ultimately became Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer directing all business development and administrative activities of FFMC. In late 1995, FFMC was sold to First Data Corporation for $7.1 billion.

In 1997, Kane formed his own business-consulting firm, Stephen D. Kane Enterprises, L.L.C., where he has assisted in numerous public and private company mergers and acquisitions.

In April 1999, Kane founded International Payment Services, L.L.C. (“IPS”) with GTCR Golder Rauner L.L.C., a private equity firm, and acquired NPC’s Check Service Division to form International Check Services, which became, through acquisitions, the third largest check guarantee firm in the U.S. before being sold to TeleCheck. He then served as Chairman and CEO of iShopSecure, Inc. (now Verid, Inc.), an identity verification and authentication solutions company serving both the credit card and financial services industries. Mr. Kane sold iShopSecure to C/max Capital, a Florida based private equity firm, and then along with C/max sold Verid to EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC).

In June 2003, he joined First American Payment Systems, LP as Senior Executive Vice President, Business Development, Mergers and Acquisitions and became a Director of the company. First American then completed six strategic acquisitions and expanded from 30,000 merchants to approximately 115,000 merchants with 6 distinct sales/distribution channels composed of 24 company owned corporate sales offices, approximately 700 company employed direct sales agents, 60+ channel partners servicing the non-profit industry and over 700 ISO independent/agent relationships and is now the sixth largest privately held processor.

Mr. Kane holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama, and did graduate work at the University of Illinois and Alabama. He received a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. Mr. Kane currently serves on the University of Alabama Law School Foundation Board of Directors.