July 21, 2014 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
End to End Payment Processing Solutions for the Credit Collection Space
a biller-direct, PCI-compliant, electronic payment gateway provider.
PaymentVision offers clients the unified ability to accept ACH, check, and
credit or debit card payments, by phone, or through Internet channels.
PaymentVision solutions handle billions of dollars for thousands of
financial institutions, large and small nationwide including, credit unions,
banks, consumer finance and collection agencies. For more information,
please visit http://www.paymentvision.com; follow PaymentVision on Twitter @PaymentVision
or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/paymentvision; or call
800-345-7243 or 301-987-0700
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July 21, 2014
CEOCFO: Mr. Pollin, what is the basic concept at PaymentVision®?
Mr. Pollin: PaymentVision provides soup to nuts, end to end payment processing solutions. We focus on five different markets. These are markets where we found a particular niche where customers were looking to offer a way to provide payments that can happen 24/7 and make payments happen conveniently, however their respective clients choose to pay. It seems simple, but one of the things that we do is we integrate with core systems. That has been our primary method of distribution. For example, one of the markets that we work in is the buy here, pay here space. These are used car dealers. They earn a living and they are providing the financing for customers that buy the car there on the spot. What we do is we integrate with the back end of a number of dealer management software systems. By doing that, the dealer management system is then able to provide full back end payment processing services to all of their respective customers, once they are integrated with us.
CEOCFO: What are some of the other industries that you focus on?
Mr. Pollin: We are strong in the credit collection space. There are many collection agencies and credit departments. We are also in healthcare. Utilities and municipalities are a large market for us as well. For example, the public utilities are regulated industries and many times they do not want to allocate money for payment processing. For very little capital or investment, they can go ahead and hire our firm to connect an emergency payment vehicle so that their customers can make payments however they want, on a mobile phone, going to the website or calling to their call center. It makes it very, very easy for them. Some of our clients who come to us want the full charge borne by the paying customer and we are able to accommodate that as well.
CEOCFO: Are you working directly with the client, such as with a municipality, and other times working with the dealer who is behind the pay as you go?
Mr. Pollin: Correct! We will work with the municipality and we will work with the dealer. The beauty of it is that we put a tremendous focus on integrating with the systems that they use in those industries. In healthcare, there a number of core systems that are used. In collections it is the same thing. When integration is done, we essentially have a socket established, so it benefits four parties. It certainly benefits the organization that we are serving. It benefits their customers, because if someone is serious about paying and they want to make a payment such as they pay to stop their electricity or their gas or water from being shut off, we are able to accommodate that so that the payment is handled. It is what the core system is aware of. Therefore, there is technology in being able to retrieve the customers balance data for the minimum acceptable payment amounts. With a utility for example, someone might have a three month old balance, but the utilities preference or policy is that as long as they are not more than two months overdue then they can keep the power going. Then we have to be able to know if a full balance is six hundred dollars, but if they just pay two hundred dollars, it prevents the utilities from being shut off. Therefore, we work with that and we are able to display the full balance and the minimum acceptable balance to keep the payments going. As a result, we are able to also notify the core system right away, so it stops collection activity in its tracks. In that regard, it is certainly benefiting the utility and the consumer and it also benefits the utility that makes the core system. That is because they are able to offer a competitive advantage that if they do not work with a company that is not quite as good as us, then they are not really able to get some of the benefits that we are able to provide.
CEOCFO: What are some of the challenges in working with older systems where the technology may not be as up to date and on the other end working with newer systems that not everyone can coordinate with? How do you coordinate with everyone?
Mr. Pollin: The systems part is not really the challenge. We are able to reach old systems and new systems. Much of the challenge is really having the partner and the customer as well focus on doing the things that we need them to do to get it to work correctly. Therefore, we have teams of project managers that, depending on the complexity of the set up, have a very organized approach to it that will work with them. However, it requires getting their attention and keeping the meetings going. Normally, it does not take that long--typically thirty days at a minimum. Sometimes it can take sixty days or more for more complicated installations. What we have found though, is that one of the unique selling propositions of our firm is that we have the ability to drive transactions through to the merchant’s primary bank. There are many advantages to that. However, in doing so, it requires the cooperation of their bank and that can take a little bit longer. Normally, we can handle things in thirty days. However, if their bank drags their feet or it is December where it seems that everyone is on vacation, it can take longer. That is the one thing that we sometimes have to deal with.
CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape?
Mr. Pollin: The biggest competitor is really clients doing nothing; in other words, clients keeping their legacy systems in place. By in large, once we get in front of a customer and once they are able to see firsthand what is possible, they usually choose to get involved with our services. Therefore, we have a very high rate of people wanting to get involved. About fifty percent of people that we talk to that are qualified customers move forward with us. Therefore, in that respect it is very good. There are other players in the space. However, they have taken a different approach. The other competitors view themselves as a credit card service sales agency. They build just enough techno competencies to be barely proficient to connect the core systems. Our approach has been fundamentally different from the outset. We started out as a financial technology shop with the goal of serving customers with whatever the need is, as long as there is some way scale it. Therefore, prospects and customers come to us because we are sort of known as a Green Beret gateway. We get some of the most complicated cases. We love solving complicated problems and technical puzzles, if you will. We have found that by doing that and not focusing so much on just building ISO or Independent Sales Organization as a credit card reseller, we have garnered an incredible amount of technical prowess over the years that people come to us for. I remind our company or team that we are not innovating for innovation's sake in and of itself. We are innovating, though, to be able to provide outstanding service to our customer, whatever form that takes, from the actual products and services we develop to the way in which we support our customers. If there is a problem, they get an answer right away. We build that internally to make sure that we are able to provide them ready answers and handle any kind of concern, such as a settlement concern. We even handle support for core systems to a degree, because we know them so well. I think customers really appreciate that difference.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us how you ensure ease of use for the customer?
Mr. Pollin: There are a number of ways that we do that. First of all, we have a great deal of experience. Our teams have been doing this for years. This is what they do and they make payments too. I think many of the times where you see systems that have workflows that you are trying to find out what the designer had in mind, often times were not designed here or where payments are done here. Many years ago, we outsourced a very small part of our development and what we found is that they way payments are done in other countries; there is actually a good bit of difference behind that. Therefore, if things are outsourced, it has to be very, very well communicated to the development team how the work flow and how the presentation is to happen. If not, they will not get it right. Therefore, we took all of our development back. It is all done in the United States and I think that makes a very big difference. The team writing the requirements, the team doing the developments and the team doing the quality assurance are all making payments every day. This is their job. This is their profession. They come to work for us because they really enjoy the intellectual puzzles of making something really easy to use for customers, something that works well and something that they will be proud of. The other thing too is that because we have full integration with many core systems, although not all, some integrations are a little tighter than others, but where they are fully tight, we are able to provide services. They are almost a seamless extension of the experience of dealing directly with the core systems. For example, if you are logging on to a utility website that is completely connected with us, we are able to offer an experience that a customer does not have to re-authenticate again. The information is already there. They are able to process the payment because the system is already aware of who they are. Therefore, we are able to provide that and it makes it very easy for the customer without having to figure complicated workflows.
CEOCFO: How are you able to facilitate secure transactions?
Mr. Pollin: At the heart of it, we view security as absolute table stakes in this business. There are some companies that have different levels of mindset on security. However, we like to think of security of one that takes on a layered approach. First of all, we are a certified PCI Level 1 payment services provider. We were one of the very first companies in our space to do that. Getting that certification was no small effort. It took years and a ton of money to make that happen. However, it was a determined effort. It affects things that you can see and things that you cannot see. It also involves our hiring. Under MasterCard Visa guidelines we have strict hiring criteria. We have turned down many, many applicants just because they do not meet the strict background and credit check that we have to enforce. All of our services are provided in a locked and bunkered data center in Virginia. We do not have any production servers that are in our environment. Therefore, physically we are extremely sound. We are in the same data centers that Google is in, for example. It is extremely locked down and you would never be able to get in there. Even I have a hard time getting in there without showing fifteen forms of ID and going through all of these gates! Beyond that though, we have intrusion detection systems in our solution. We have strict change control process. All the people that we connect to upstream to process payment instructions and execute further process of anything that comes in and out of our gateway also has to be PCI Level 1 provided. Another thing that we do that I believe is highly unique to us is that we take card security this seriously. We actually do not store any credit card information that comes to us that has to be stored, for example, for recurring payments, for managing a recurrent payments schedule or for archival purposes. We actually contract with an electronic vault service, where that is their core competency--storing that data in a way that you cannot get access to the data. Therefore, any data that we have, we only have just for seconds, to execute a transaction and then it is gone. We do not have access to it until such time as we might need it again for a recurring transaction, which we pull securely. Even then, the data that is set in the communications between us and the vault is highly encrypted, so that is protected as well. Therefore, security is very important to us and we know that at any moment that is certainly probably the biggest threat that we have, so we take that very, very seriously. I would venture to say that when I look at the time that we spend in development and production, it is probably forty percent of our technology time that is going into security related items such as PCI compliance. We spend months every year recertifying for our annual PCI audit. It is not small effort but we think it is worth it. We have not had any compromise and we certainly do not expect to with keeping the efforts that we are doing.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to PaymentVision?
We do not vow
to be the biggest company, but we vow to provide outstanding service when
customers come to us. Most of our customers come to us by way of referral.
Our customers will come to us sometimes with the most complex needs and
sometimes with very simple and straightforward needs. The customers that
come to us with very simple and straightforward needs come to us because
they know we are going to get it done right. They know that if there is ever
a problem they can pick up the phone and they will get an answer directly
and quickly. Our partners trust us because of that. Therefore, they
recommend us with confidence. With larger customers, we are certainly known
for our capability and with smaller customers, when you provide good
service, word gets around, but not as fast as if you provide bad service;
word gets around much faster! However, we do not have that problem. We are
also gradually adding on the number of core systems that we think make a
good match for us to work with. We have turned down core systems that do not
share the philosophies that we do. The other thing too is that we are
extremely innovative on the payment capture side. For example, when there
are new ways to make payments, we are there. As mobile systems evolve, we
are there. We have invested heavily in our platforms to make sure, for
example, that clients get an upstanding mobile experience. That is because
part of it is that we want to make it easy for our customers to collect
payments from their customers however they want to pay, whatever device they
want to use. If they want to pay by credit card, by debit card, by their
checking account, we handle it all and we do it well. That is our niche.
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