SAN FRANCISCO—As digital technology has reshaped the acquiring business, some of the industry's biggest names are making splashy investments in mobile payments and merchant marketing.

"I'll give you a very specific word we don't use: ISO," said Frank Bisignano, chairman and chief executive of First Data. "It's a word I heard when I came here. We're not in business with ISOs, we're in business with sales partners." 

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