The organizers of a brand new Dallas-based acquiring and processing company called Anovia Payments plan to operate in 23 countries by the end of next year.
Kevin G. Jones and Andy Meadows, formerly president and vice president of sales respectively at SignaPay, launched Anovia last week.
They plan to focus on business in both North America and Europe, but they won't be pounding the cobblestones of quaint Medieval streets on the other side of the Atlantic to seek out clients.
Instead, they're crossing the ocean in partnership with clients and tech partners, says Jones, who's CEO of the new company.
Their investors double as referral partners because they're in businesses like energy and telecommunications, says Jones, who's president and CEO.
The distribution strategy calls for working with value-added resellers, software providers and professional associations – like the trade groups for chiropractors, attorneys and retailers, says Meadows, executive vice president of sales. Those entities are already operating internationally and don't have payments-processing partners that work in multiple countries.
"These guys are going out and having to form 15 or 16 partnerships with electronic payments providers [in different countries]," says Jones. "We could be a single-source solution for those players."
Anovia will perform its own processing, and Jones and Meadows are taking advantage of having a technological "blank canvas." Without legacy platforms and systems that are time-consuming to change, they can build a simpler, more efficient processing infrastructure.
They expect to be processing by July 1 with 20 to 25 mostly operations employees. They're recruiting a chief operating officer for Europe, and Meadows will manage U.S. sales. They want to establish an office in Europe but haven't picked the country.
Could their European ambitions be part of a trend? Jones, who's active in the U.S.-based Electronic Transactions Association, says the trade group is expanding its focus to Europe for a several reasons.
First, the association has grown beyond its traditional membership – it's no longer just for acquirers. New members, including such companies as Facebook and Intuit, are already international, he says.
Second, American ISOs are ready to join their technology partners that are already operating abroad, and the ISO business model is beginning to emerge in countries where banks have handled their own acquiring.
Third, the association's move into Europe fills a vacuum, according to Jones.
"There's not really a solid international association that handles payments. It's by country," he says. "The ETA is going to try to utilize that opportunity to fill in that gap."
To that end, the association is planning its first strategic leadership forum for London in September, Jones notes.
"From a global perspective, payments has changed," he says. "What worked 10 years ago flounders today."
But expansion into Europe won't necessarily work for acquirers and processors without connections to clients and tech partners, Jones says.
"If you don't have a distribution channel there, then you're wasting your time," he contends. "But if you have a great distribution channel and you're only serving the U.S. piece of it, then you have the opportunity to stretch geographically."
Besides that, companies expanding to Europe should have a brick-and-mortar office and a corporate structure there, Jones advises.
Smaller U.S. ISOs can write business in Europe through Anovia without setting up shop abroad — but they should work on the basis of referrals, not door-to-door, he says.
Anovia's real attraction for U.S. ISOs and agents resides in the company's infrastructure, which eases the burden of dealing with Payment Card Industry data security standards and federal regulation, Jones contends.
He also emphasizes that Anovia's interest in international business does not mean that the company is taking on high-risk accounts, such as gaming, travel, continuity or adult.
"We're not interested in high-risk at all," Jones says.