The CEO of SignaPay, an Irving, Texas-based acquirer with 14,000 merchants, says he's again taking an active role in the day-to-day business of moving the company forward.

"I had taken a couple of years out for personal reasons," John Martillo says of his involvement in the six-year-old company he founded. "I'm back."

Martillo, who also helped start Cynergy Data 18 years ago, says these days he wants to take SignaPay "to the next level."

"The ISO space is still a very, very good space to be in," he says. "I feel that is my old stomping grounds, my roots, where I come from."

Martillo's plans for servicing the ISO and agent community call for a renewed emphasis on technology to streamline the business for ISOs.

He foresees connections with a lot of software integration companies and new boarding tools. The company is well-capitalized to pursue new technology because of Martillo's success at Cynergy Data as well as at SignaPay, observers say.

The company offers three platforms ISOs can use to board merchants. Besides the Paymentech platform, the company now offers First Data and TSYS, with the acquisition of Equity Commerce at the end of last year.

"The ISO can pick and choose which network they want to do the deal with," Martillo says.

ISOs or agents enter the information and point it toward one of the three processors. If a processor rejects a merchant, the information is still there and he or she simply points to another processor.

SignaPay also has a fourth relationship, with Elavon in Canada, that began in the middle of last year and is progressing well, Martillo says.

Boarding merchants in Canada differs from the way it's done in the United States, but SignaPay is adjusting, he says.

"Sometimes, it's a matter of doing a little different paperwork," he says of operating in Canada.

Jeff Brown, who was president of Equity Commerce, came to work at SignaPay in October and now serves as interim president.

Overall, Martillo sees SignaPay as a company that offers all of the services of the industry's biggest players but delivers them through an intimate, flexible "boutique" approach.

Martillo, who grew up in Ecuador before moving to New York to seek his fortune, also operates a Spanish-language SignaPay division called Senor Pay.

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