Independent sales organizations can expect business to continue as usual with First Data Corp. despite new faces in top management at the Atlanta-based transaction processor.

"There's been no change, to date, in our strategy with ISOs," says O.B. Rawls, First Data's senior vice president and general manager for its national and ISO portfolio. "Our strategy is still to support and grow the ISO channel."

That policy remains in effect under the First Data's new CEO, Frank Bisignano, who joined the company in April, and its new president, Guy Chiarello, who arrived this month. Both came from JPMorgan Chase.

The expected continuity should reassure First Data's hundreds of ISOs. More ISOs work with First Data than with all other processors combined, Rawls says.

ISOs that sign on with First Data receive training in the company's systems, support structure and the self-service aspects of its tools, often at the company's Omaha, Neb., facility, he notes. Training continues with monthly seminars online and off.

"We spend a lot of time with our ISOs," Rawls says.

First Data also connects with ISOs at the Electronic Transactions Association's annual trade show and the regional acquiring shows, he says.

"We like retail ISOs, we like wholesale ISOs and we like the full-service processing accounts," Rawls says.

Many of the people in those roles are coming from the ranks of investment bankers and stock brokers who lost their jobs in the recession, he notes.

"The ISOs today are different than they were when I started in this business," Rawls maintains. "It used to be all feet on the street."   

The new ISOs are using the skills they learned elsewhere in financial services, such as database marketing, and they're building referral partnerships and focusing on vertical markets like dentists or petroleum, he says.

"It's proven for a lot of people to be an enriching career," Rawls says.

Whether they're new or established, ISOs have plenty of new products to sell merchants, including contactless payments, mobile payments, electronic wallets, alternative payments and remote deposit capture, he notes. 

"It's refreshing to see the market revitalized now," Rawls says. "Competition is important to keep the market fresh. There are lots of opportunities out there."

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