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ISOs: Adapt or Die?

A merchant starting a new business and needs to accept credit cards usually starts with their bank for guidance. The banks either directly offer the processing service or will guide the merchant to a regional or national ISO (Independent Sales Organization). ISOs have become the de-facto way for most small and medium sized businesses to gain the capability of accepting credit cards. ISOs generally offer better rates and greater personalized support than available from the larger banks. So the benefit of ISOs to the small or medium business owner was always clear and unambiguous. Over the past few years, though, that has been changing steadily, and ISOs should see the need to adapt to changing times or risk dying off completely.

It began with Square, Inc., a Silicon Valley startup that pledged it could provide credit card processing to anybody with a smartphone, whether it was for a business or just an individual. By plugging in the small white square-shaped reader to the headphone jack of a smartphone and installing a small app, a person could turn their cell phone into a mobile POS system. PayPal, Groupon and other technology companies also have a deep interest in disrupting the local payments business. The technology companies are able to add value to the merchants business beyond payment acceptance. Groupon for instance can help the business attract new customers through its daily discount marketing program. So where does all of this new competition mean for the ISO business?

It means ISOs must change their conversation with merchants from cost of credit card processing to one of driving greater business value. And there is significant new revenue opportunity to ISOs that are able to make this transition from selling cost to selling value.

We started BuyFi because we see a great opportunity to help the progressive ISOs make this transition. We made a conscious decided to design and build our systems to complement the ISO business. This means we had to work hard to ensure ISOs could easily integrate our analytics and customer engagement products and sell to businesses. BuyFi helps small-and-medium-sized businesses to grow sales by uniquely analyzing their credit card transactions and automating, streamlining and simplifying their customer acquisition and retention process. Digital marketing has become essential for SMBs but the available tools are generally too complex, too expensive, or mostly ineffective to leverage mobile, and social channels. So we enable small-and-medium sized retail business (restaurant, florist, pet shop, etc.) to easily engage customers on channels such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Google, and on their mobile phones. And we do all this in a white label bundle that an ISO can rapidly integrate under their brand to sell to their merchant customers.

Paleontologists believe the dinosaurs died out because they could not adapt to the changing physical climate of the world. ISOs, if they do not learn to adapt to a changing economic environment, could face the same fate as the dinosaurs, becoming extinct as newer and more valuable offerings come to market and out-compete them. Adapt or die is the new mantra for ISOs, and BuyFi is able to help them adapt to the changing economic and technological times.