EMC2: Full of Solutions

John Stuart

Anyone who wants to start a business should know that online payment processing probably is not the optimum arena for a newcomer.

The competition is fierce among the almost numberless companies in this crowded field. And yet, since EMC2 Billing launched in 2005 this firm not only has survived but has thrived. What’s their secret?

We try to learn about their business and know their payment space very well. This allows us to head off some of the dangerous things that might happen.

“There is a lot of competition in this business,” says EMC2 BillingCEO Greg Berard, “so to stand apart we consider ourselves not just a sales organization or a billing partner, but a consulting company. We don’t just say, ‘Here’s a solution. Here’s our commission. Have a nice day.’ We really work with our partners and we’re very selective of who we choose to work with, because we want long-term partnerships. We help manage and monitor their billing solutions so they can continue growing their business.

‘The hands-on approach that we take is a bit different from other processing companies. Most of the other billing companies in this space have risk and underwriting people that look at things almost from a compliance standpoint. We look at it like we’re business partners with our merchants, because the better they do, the better we do. We try to learn about their business and know their payment space very well. This allows us to head off some of the dangerous things that might happen. We’ll notify the merchant of any problems before the bank does. We have merchants who have been on our books for more than 10 years.”

The longevity of merchant relationships with EMC2 is proof that their approach to online payment processing works. According to Berard, who has been involved in online processing for 14 years, this has as much to do with his company’s overall philosophy as it does with the details of its business model.

“EMC has always been focused on consulting for and assisting good merchants,” says Berard. “Sometimes they may be misunderstood merchants, but always it’s a good merchant, someone who’s in business trying to make a living. They may be considered high risk, but we assist them with their processing and billing needs worldwide.

“We use all different kinds of billing services. We consult for our clients. What we try to do is help them maximize their revenue opportunities and minimize risk. We help them also to find solutions that they can stay in and manage for a very long time. At the same time we help monitor all the processing that they do, help them reduce their chargebacks and reduce fraud. We refer them to all different kinds of solutions.

‘We have credit card processing solutions domestically here in the States and internationally in Europe, South America and Asia. We have ACH Check 21 processing solutions, global solutions and multiple currency solutions in dozens of countries, as well as a few other interesting alternative solutions. We try to be on the forefront and find the best solutions that can help maximize revenue for all of our clients.”

One of the keys to the success of EMC2 is the enormous menu of payment offerings from which their merchant partners can choose. Berard firmly believes that this kind of variety benefits his firm just as much as it helps the merchants.

‘We like to have a very wide array of solutions available,” he says, “and we’re constantly searching for new solutions. Some of our clients don’t want to bother with all of these solutions, and some use every single one of them. We feel that the more solutions you have, the more money you’re going to make, so it’s worth it to have as many solutions as possible. We offer our merchants check processing solutions, credit card solutions, alternative billing, local payment solutions, and we’re creating a new website that should be available by June that will give merchants yet another choice.”

Among its clients, EMC2 boasts of astounding success stories with merchants who may not have had the best of track records before they partnered with Berard’s company. The reason for this lies in how EMC2 analyzes these merchants and helps them to change their business practices.

“We love the merchants who might not have the best track records but want to change their business practices,” says Berard. “Sometimes they just had poor processing or had a couple of rogue affiliates that caused bad traffic. Sometimes they were processing with a bank that went through an audit and terminated them because they felt the account was too risky. We like these kinds of merchants, but we look at it in a case-by-case basis. If we feel a merchant is a turnaround story who is really trying to do something better, we’ll usually sit down face-to-face and get a better understanding and we’ll take them on.”

Adds EMC2 President Jason Clements: “We have a track record of being able to turn those merchants around, so our banks are willing to work with us on those merchants that they might not do with other partners.”

The fine relationships EMC2 has maintained with its banking partners is another key ingredient in the company’s continued growth. “We have a lot of different banking relationships,” Berard says, “and we believe we’re more honest than most processors with our banking partners. We tell them the good, the bad and the ugly about our merchants.

“If there is a bad history or some attention from lawmakers or a record of charge-backs where the merchant is turning it around and changing business practices, we tell the entire story to our banking partners before our merchants ever process a dime with them. The bank knows everything, so there are no surprises.

“We’re proud of the fact that we are so above board with our clients and our banking partners. We communicate with both on a daily basis. Banks just want to know what they’re getting themselves into, and as long as they know that up front there won’t be any problems. To be safe, we look at merchant transactions from a moment-to-moment basis to make sure nothing crazy is happening.”

Among the possible “crazy” problems any online processor must face is fraud, but Berard has armed EMC2 for just about every contingency in this potential minefield.

‘The nice part about working on a consulting basis as opposed to being just a processing partner,” Berard says, “is that we have a lot more flexibility in terms of gateway solutions, fraud prevention tools, and banking partners. We take a look at how we can fix some of the problems. Sometimes it’s just a case of giving the merchant some fraud tools. We have solutions available which we refer to our clients. We’ll refer a client to a specific gateway based on what we feel their needs are. We can suggest a large number of excellent gateway tools that can help to increase their revenues and lower their fraud risk. And if we feel that they can do things on their own, we can refer them to the cheapest and most robust gateway solutions for that.

“In this day and age, there are so many great tools available, so we just try to be flexible and give our clients the best fit for their businesses. The best way to reduce fraud is literally just to look at the transactions. When you have our years of experience, you’re able to see trends and problems and you can suggest solutions specific to those problems.”

Clearly, it is the 14 years of experience that Berard brings to EMC2 which has been the main reason why the firm does so well in the incredibly competitive field of payment processing.