A third of the veteran-owned businesses certified with the Veterans Administration are already First Data clients, and the processor is working to win over the other two-thirds.
Veterans become entrepreneurs more often than their civilian counterparts, according to Meg O'Grady, vice president of veteran business strategy and engagement at First Data. There are at least 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. with total sales of $1.2 trillion annually, she said.
Veterans are also more likely than civilians to own more than one business, O'Grady said. And while First Data has veteran clients in many different verticals, anecdotally many veterans are starting companies in cybersecurity and tech because they've received extensive training in these areas, she said.
First Data is trying to capture that market by offering veterans (including its existing clients) up to 40% off its small business solutions for clients who sign up by Oct. 30. The discounts apply to the Clover Station point of sale system, Insightics big data management solution and the Perka loyalty program. This is the first year First Data is offering the special pricing. Veteran business owners will receive free processing all day on November 11 (Veteran's Day).
First Data has also announced First Data Salutes, a company-wide strategy for engaging the military and veteran community.
"The veteran talent pool is a very strong one; we know what they bring to the workplace," O'Grady said. Eight percent of First Data's U.S.-based employees are veterans and 10% of new hires are veterans or military spouses, she said. First Data has 15,000 employees in the U.S.
First Data would also like to create a supportive alliance that provides products, services, lending and awareness to veteran-owned small businesses.
"We believe as we strengthen one sector of the small business community it only helps to strengthen the whole small business community," she said.
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Corrected October 21, 2014 at 10:31AM: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the discount First Data is offering to veterans on their small business products.