This article appears in the February 26, 2009, edition of ISO&Agent Weekly.
ISO: What changes in payments have most affected ISOs and why?
LP: The mainstreaming of debit and the opportunities it created to sign merchants in categories once off limits, like fast food, utilities, grocery and insurance. In addition, PCI security standards and risk are top-of-mind now and will be for many years to come.
ISO: How do you think the ISO industry will evolve through 2010?
LP: It's difficult to predict how the industry will fare given the economy and potential regulatory changes.
ISO: Will ISOs always have a role in the payments industry?
LP: I think sales are the lifeblood of acquiring. ISOs provide much needed support for millions of merchants in the country.
ISO: Which trends do you think ISOs should monitor?
LP: Security, security, security. Also, keep watching consumer trends and spending habits, and try to determine what the growth segments will be when the economy picks up again.
ISO: Which best practice, or practices, do you think every ISO should incorporate into their business plans?
LP: Read the research, watch consumer trends and incorporate PCI standards into your security programs. I am also a big proponent of back-office and service quality. Now is a good time to make sure that you are using all the best practices for charge-back processing and interchange qualification and finding all the ways to save money in your back office. It might not be fun, but it could be a way to find revenue in tough times.
ISO: What have you most enjoyed about working with ISOs?
LP: Their entrepreneurial spirit, the way they organize and manage a sales force, and the personalities. I have met some of the smartest people in this business and have formed great and, I hope, lasting relationships.
Biography, Linda S. Perry
I joined Visa USA in 1992 to manage the company's Midwest sales territory and group. We offered both issuing and acquiring products to banks in the region, such as Norwest Corp. and Wells Fargo. We offered credit cards and Interlink (Visa's PIN-debit and ATM network) as well as signature debit, which was just beginning to grow.
In 1995, I was asked to lead a new function at the company focused on managing Visa's relationships with processors like First Data Corp. Over the next few years my team added Total System Services Inc., as well as some of the acquiring banks. This was successful, so we were given additional responsibility for managing relationships with the key acquirers and issuer and acquirer processors, and we started to talk to ISOs.
We tried to have a center of expertise around acquiring and processing and founded and managed Visa Directions, a newsletter for acquirers; an acquirer council; and the annual Acquirer Educational Forums. It was during this time that I also started my 13-year affiliation with the Electronic Transactions Association's board of directors, which I joined as an advisor and have since served as an ex-officio member. [The ETA is a Washington, D.C.-based trade group for the merchant acquiring industry.]
Before joining Visa, I spent two years as a vice president at Citibank's merchant acquiring services unit, where I managed its acquisition of First Chicago Bank & Trust's acquiring business.
Before that, I worked for 11 years at the former Michigan National Bank, where I did everything from product management of retail and commercial products to serving as vice president of national accounts in their Michigan Bankcard division. I feel like a banker that fell into cards and never went back.