Heartland Goes To School With An Acquisition

By Jeffrey Green (@epaymentsguy)

Payments processor Heartland Payment Systems Inc., which over the past few years has acquired various companies to help build its School Solutions and Campus Solutions businesses, on April 10 continued on that track with the acquisition of MCS Software.

The Madisonville, La.-based company provides school food-service point-of-sale (POS), back office and online payment solutions for more than 4,000 K-12 elementary schools nationwide, Heartland said in its acquisition announcement.

“MCS Software is an important addition to our School Solutions business,” said Michael Lawler, president of Heartland’s Strategic Markets Group. “Our latest acquisition in this growing industry further enhances our market-leading position, adding both an outstanding software product to our current platforms and a substantial nationwide customer base. We also have a significant opportunity to expand and improve upon the school payments solutions offered to parents and children in current MCS school districts.”

Among Heartland’s earlier acquisitions that helped build the School Solutions business include the December 2011 deal to acquire School-Link Technologies, a privately held provider of comprehensive K-12 school nutrition and point-of-sale (POS) solutions. Heartland earlier acquired three other providers in the K-12 space, including Lunchbox, an integrated school nutrition and POS management application; Comalex Inc., software for school nutrition programs and POS systems; and, a website and online service for parents to pay for their child’s school meals and student activity fees using a credit or debit card or via electronic check.

In 2012, it acquired Lunchbyte Systems Inc., which provides back-office management and point-of-sale systems for the food-service operations of about 10,000 elementary and high schools.

In June last year, Heartland School Solutions launched the MyLunchMoney mobile app, which helps parents of school-aged children to manage school meal expenses from smart phones and tablets. A few months later it launched a more-robust app called mySchoolBucks, which enables parents of school-aged children to manage school-related fees such as meals, tuition, lab or library, athletic or club, sporting events, and other activities from smart phones and tablets. More than 2,000 schools nationally use the app.

Heartland School Solutions, which provides child nutrition and payment-management solutions, now serves over 34,000 K-12 schools nationwide, representing a 35% share of the public schools in the U.S., according to Heartland. The solutions include POS terminals, a secure online payment portal, mobile-payment capabilities and integrated vending solutions. Back-office management features supported include online free- and reduced-meal application processing, meal tracking, inventory management and menu planning.

Heartland also operates a Campus Solutions unit that specializes in higher-education schools. To help support that initiative, Heartland in December 2012 acquired ESCI. The Pittsburgh-based company supports student loan payment processing, default solutions, refund services, tuition payment plans, electronic billing and payment, tax document services, and business outsourcing to more than 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide.



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