Magazine article American Banker

New Payment Methods Create Processing Challenges

Magazine article American Banker

New Payment Methods Create Processing Challenges

Article excerpt

WAIKOLOA, Hawaii -

The growing popularity of Internet shopping, merchant loyalty programs, and commercial cards is adding new complexity to the merchant acquiring business, according to the head of Vital Processing Services.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Electronic Transactions Association last week, Jonathan J. Palmer, president and chief executive officer of the merchant processing firm, said these factors create "so much opportunity in the acquiring business."

Mr. Palmer, a veteran banker who took the helm of Vital last month, said acquirers must be "reliable, responsive, efficient, and strong" to survive in changing circumstances.

Merchant acquirers are a mix of banks and independent sales organizations that facilitate point-of-sale transactions for merchants. As retailers have begun to accept debit cards, on-line payments, and other payment instruments, the companies that serve them have had to widen their scope.

Vital, of Tempe, Ariz., processes transactions for this community. "We want to be able to serve acquirers in order to help them grow faster than the industry," Mr. Palmer said.

Despite recent leadership changes, Vital is poised to capitalize on changes in the payments industry, he said. It is "business as usual" at the company, which will continue to design programs that help clients build volume "better, faster, and cheaper" than competing processors, he said.

Vital, a 50-50 venture of San Francisco-based Visa U.S.A. and Columbus, Ga.-based Total System Services Inc., was formed in 1996. Fred O. Gumbel, its first chief executive, resigned last year; Philip Tomlinson, president of Total and a Vital board member, served as Vital's interim leader until Mr. Palmer was hired.

The former chief technologist and head of retail banking at Barnett Banks Inc. …

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