As payments technology went into warp speed the past four years, many banks, acquirers and independent sales organizations (ISOs) faced the difficult task of keeping up with all of the potential changes.

Avidia Bank is hoping to smooth that process by offering a white-label payments platform that will combine the Automated Clearing House network with payment card acceptance in one service. Payments technology provider linked2pay is powering Avidia Pay, a business-to-business or business-to-consumer payments platform available to other banks, associations, ISOs and small merchants.

"Trying to stay abreast of technology is really one of the weaknesses in the ISO industry," said Richard McShirley, Chief Marketing Officer at transmodus, which delivers linked2pay. "It is typical for an ISO to have as many as 12 different payment technologies they are working with and trying to stay on top of."

Avidia Pay will be most appealing to those ISOs that do not develop their own platforms, but generally offer various technologies from third parties, said acquiring industry analyst Paul Martaus.

It's also an important platform for smaller ISOs because it allows them to offer a payment service that matches the bigger operations that offer various options, Martaus added.

"I hate to say that it levels the playing field, because nothing ever really does that, but this is a good development to those guys who have not had access to an ACH network," Martaus said.

Avidia Bank has a buy rate for ISOs to obtain Avidia Pay, with linked2pay operating the technology behind the scenes. "It makes for a very clean operation for an ISO because they don't have to try to keep up with the technology," McShirley said.

Major acquirers and ISOs have generally had access to the ACH network through relationships with large banks, but smaller operations "have had to leave the discussion table" when clients seek an ACH option, McShirley added. "The bank was interested in doing this because it takes ACH, the bank's strength, and puts it side-by-side with credit cards and makes it just as easy to accept that type of payment."

Hudson, Mass.-based Avidia Bank is interested in working with the ISO network, allowing those partners to be an Avidia Pay reseller or to take the technology and brand it as their own solution.

"Technically, Avidia Pay is a payments gateway, but it goes further with the multi-user level and the white-label service," McShirley added. "Linked2pay is on the back end, but the bank is really in the forefront."

Merchants approved to begin using the Avidia Pay platform through their own brand  access the accounts through their own online banking account, with a PIN established to open the account.

Avidia Bank has 10 locations in Massachusetts, but customers in every state in the U.S., many through relationships developed with technology companies focused on the payments landscape.

Avidia Bank declined to provide specific details about its relationships with ISOs or resellers, but did say those engaging with the bank "collectively represent hundreds of thousands of businesses that could benefit from using Avidia Pay."

Those offering Avidia Pay are likely to target operations with many business-to-business payments, or business-to-consumer payments, such as other financial institutions, health care providers, service businesses, municipal agencies or schools.

Avidia Pay is not a consumer-facing mobile wallet app, though the system does deliver e-mail alerts to payees when a payment is due, instructing them to go to an online payment form. Those making payments to a business or agency using Avidia Pay do not need a separate app to communicate or send payments, McShirley said.

As an originating depository financial institution, or ODFI, Avidia Bank has the legal authority to deploy the platform to other banks and businesses, while monitoring the service and establishing conformity in the network.

Linked2pay's services, combining mobile payments, online payment forms, e-mail billing and virtual terminals, have aided acquirers and ISOs for more than a year.

Payments processor and technology provider Total System Services, or TSYS, has included linked2pay's single-point login for payment acceptance to its clients, with the platform enabling payment online, through a mobile device using a payment card, or through the ACH network.

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