Across the U.S., merchant payments is an area that’s experiencing rapid growth and transformation. And when it comes to delivering solutions for the space, Neil Randel, CEO of First American Payment Systems, says merchants want to do a lot more with a lot less – one platform that includes analytical programs, loyalty programs, business management tools and more. PYMNTS caught up with Randel to find out how First American is coming up with clever ways to deliver on merchants’ business and payment needs, and how the company will play an important role in driving merchant payment innovation in the next five years.
This is a period of rapid growth across the U.S. merchants’ payments landscape. There is a clear demand for providers that can support not only multichannel commerce, but also big data analytics and targeted loyalty programs. What are you hearing from the merchants you support, and how does First American Payment Systems differentiate itself in this highly competitive market?
NR: We hear all of the time from our merchants that running a business is hard and keeps them very busy. They want solutions that are easy and allow them to do more with less. We are constantly looking for better, more valuable ways to support our merchants, including analytical programs, loyalty programs, business management tools, an easy to use POS platform and more. We have to find ways to differentiate ourselves outside of rates, and that is where we have spent the majority of our time. If you ask a business owner, they want more time in their day to spend with their family instead of running their business. We will continue to offer solutions that allow them to do that.
What do you believe will drive innovation in merchant payments in the next five years, and what role is First American Payment Systems prepared to play in the evolution of merchant payments?
NR: Merchants will look for business management solutions and tools. They want one provider to supply them with multiple ways to support their business objectives and growth. As First American continues to develop more solutions, we will consistently look to bolster our tools to help a merchant run their business. For example, we have a great platform for our 1stPayPOS product. We are going to leverage that platform, along with others, to bring more functionality and business tools to our merchants’ fingertips.
What do you believe will be the primary challenge for ISOs, acquirers and processors in the next few years?
NR: We see the primary challenge in the next five years to be the constantly changing payments and technology environment, and the process of adapting those changes to produce positive results for cardholders, merchants and processors. Technology is rapidly changing the way payments are made and processed. Processors, acquirers and ISOs need to be prepared to take advantage of the technology that enriches the customer and merchant relationship.
While the environment changes rapidly, the successful processor will be able to continue to add value to all parties by leveraging secure transactions within valuable software and other products to be used at the point of transaction.
With new developments such as EMV, contactless payments like Apple Pay, more dependence on mobile and the increasing importance of data security, many companies in our industry can be overwhelmed. Companies that can provide valuable solutions or tools that support each of these as well as look forward and plan for the next big changes in payments will be successful.
We have a leadership team that is constantly staying in touch with the market, whether it’s related to products, the needs of a merchant, and the payment preferences of consumers or industry thought leadership in order to keep us in front of the curve and not behind it. It’s our duty to our merchants to provide them valuable payments solutions that enable successful and secure commerce during these changing times in payments.
In light of all these market changes, how has your relationship with ISOs and acquirers evolved over the years?
NR: We have always strived to support ISOs with the right products and solutions to meet market needs. We dedicate energy and resources to creating tools for ISOs to support their business, gain insights into their portfolios and meet the market with merchant solutions. As the industry evolves, we will continue to provide education and training to our partners to assist them in achieving their goals and enriching their relationships with merchants.
This year we are proactively consulting with our partners and merchants to educate them on security, specifically around NFC and the EMV liability shift in October. We provide guidance on EMV solutions, best practices and acceptance options. We will help them plan for new merchant acquisition as well as hardware conversion for existing customers. We have a responsibility to educate our partners and to arm them with valuable solutions that meet the market, and we will continue to deliver on these in 2015 and beyond.
Finally, what is next for First American Payment Systems? What innovative solutions are you working on that you can disclose?
NR: First American is in a growth period. We see growth in our merchant and partner portfolio of 140,000 merchants along with new products, future acquisitions and innovative technology solutions that will allow us to meet the needs of the merchant or consumer each and every time. We are celebrating 25 years this year and we will continue building a highly successful business focused on merchant and partner success.
CEO, First American Payment Systems
With over 25 years’ experience in the payments industry, Neil Randel currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of First American Payment Systems. In August 2014, Neil, along with members of the First American management team, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan acquired the company from private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg.
Neil joined First American in 1993 as Vice President and was named President & CEO in 1998 eventually holding the title of Chairman of the Board & CEO. Under Neil’s leadership, First American Payment Systems has become one of the fastest growing payment processors in the United States. Today, the company serves over 140,000 merchants and ranked as one of the top privately owned merchant acquirers in the United States. Prior to joining First American, he founded National Merchant Services (1987) and FirstNet Corporation (1990), both focused on providing merchant services.
Neil currently is a Board Member for First American Payment Systems, Discover’s Merchant Acquirer Advisory Council and K-Life Ministries. He previously served as a Board Member for the American Heart Association – Tarrant County. In 2004, Neil was named the southwest area Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Business Services.