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ISOs Advised to Start Looking Beyond Profits

The independent sales organization (ISO) business has grown into a multimillion-dollar venture. But merchant-acquiring executives advised that it’s time for the sector to start seeing beyond profits.

The managers sat in a roundtable branded “Payments Doing Good” at the Midwest Acquirers Association annual forum in Chicago. Team supervisor Mark Dunn, a co-founder and treasurer at MWAA, said the panel’s board of directors has agreed to give the charities supported by the three panelists $2,000 each.

Robert O. Carr, the founder of payments provider Beyond (2017), is one of the panelists. He served as CEO of the Heartland Payment Systems Inc., which was later acquired by Global Payments Inc in 2016. Back in 2003, Carr had launched Give Something Back Foundation Inc., famous as Give Back, an aid organization that supports low-income learners through four years of college. The charity is now the beneficiary of Carr’s holdings in Beyond.

According to Dunn, Since Give Back foundation got underway; it has collected up to $35 million for students. The program features 27 universities and assists would-be scholars from the vulnerable youth group (ninth grade) by ensuring they enroll in a high school college-prep course. Give Back covers every cost but for travel and books by adding state grants to its own tuition funding. And the founder is a happy man as the graduation rate for students stands at 91 percent.

“We all believe in something,” Carr said. “To me, the best thing you offer someone otherwise thinks they have no opportunity is to enable them to get a college education.”

Elsewhere Jeff Marcous, co-founder at Vancouver, and CEO of Washington-based ISO Dharma Merchant Services. The company consists of 2,500 competent benefit corporations that agree to work within the non-profit B Lab regulations. These standards cover all aspects including employee treatment, transparency, environmental stewardship and many more. Last year alone, Dharma contributed around $250,000 to non-profits, said Marcous.

The final panelist, Mr. Andy Kinnecom is CEO of Wickford, and Swipe for a Cause, an ISO that offers 5 percent of its revenues to a Rhode Island hospital. Swipe for a Cause was founded eight years ago purposely to better healthcare after following several deaths that claimed his friends and family, including his 30-year-old wife.

“When she passed, I was totally shell-shocked,” he said.

It’s challenging for individuals alone to cause social change, and “authorities won’t get together” to uphold it, Marcous said. “Nevertheless, private enterprise can be organized for good causes. If the business is the backbone of the idea, then that’s a good driving force, perhaps we’ll have a chance.”

In a nutshell

ISOs should now look forward to supporting students and any ISO agent they work with rather than concentrating on profits.