Mitch Farber: Dedication — The NETbilling Way

Stephen Yagielowicz

If there is one person that is synonymous with “adult merchant accounts,” it is the affable President of NETBilling, Mitch Farber, an experienced operator who has helped many top adult entertainment companies prosper amid ever-changing market conditions.

NETBilling offers credit card and ACH processing services to a broad range of adult and mainstream companies around the world. Its core focus is merchant account gateway processing, call center services and advanced fraud scrubbing. These services are tailored to the real-world needs of today’s webmasters that utilize affiliate marketing programs, cascading billing systems, visitor cross- and upsells and other website monetization tools, with customizable, in-depth reporting of all relevant statistics.

Building NETbilling from the ground up for the past many years has taught me that this industry is not as much about having the best software as it is about forging long-term relationships and providing a level of customer service not found elsewhere.

These real-time reporting features allow NETBilling merchants to closely monitor their sales conversion ratios; analyzing profits to enable better, timelier decisions, with full access to the customer database — including contact lists and comprehensive audit trails that log all of a user’s actions.

In addition to its advanced feature set, one key ingredient to the company’s perennial success is its fastidious focus on doing what it knows best — rather than being swayed by other opportunities — like so many other companies that have tried to impact this space.

“We decided years ago to develop and stick to our core competencies as to not spread ourselves too thinly and to let our development and referring partners be an integral part of our success,” Farber told XBIZ. “For example, we had many opportunities back in the late 1990’s to become an IPSP (a 3rd party payment processor).”

“However, because of the inherent risk to our company and to our merchants, we decided to stick to developing our gateway and call center and make them the best in the industry,” Farber explained. “To confirm we most likely made the right decision, in the past 10 years, we have seen at least 15 IPSPs come and go, often leaving many, many merchants unpaid.”

Celebrating 15 years in online adult, Farber’s roots in the industry date back to 1997 — when the lack of robust, real-time processing and affordable customer service options for his own websites prompted him to provide a better solution — and one that wouldn’t take 15 percent or more of his sales as a fee…

Farber obtained a merchant account and learned the ins-and-outs of using it to process adult website transactions — at the time, a groundbreaking challenge for the fast-growing Internet — and for the established banking system.

A year into it, their merchant account provider ceased processing for adult businesses, providing Farber and company with the opportunity of a lifetime.

After acquiring the rights to their former credit card processor’s software and signing up that company’s previous adult merchants, NETBilling was born.

Farber focused on serving the needs of his initial 100 or so accounts, determined to develop gateway software that delivered superior features and functionality for enhanced processing control and flexibility.

Its humble beginnings as a home-based business enabled Farber to devote the endless hours needed to grow NETBilling and to support the meteoric rise of its adult client base, which was fueled by the spread of broadband Internet access, and the resulting consumer demand for live and streaming video feeds.

The personal touch and high-quality care exhibited by the company in its early days has become a NETBilling hallmark. For example, its fully inhouse support staff is able to offer a higher level of customer service than an outsourced solution; with better staff training and quality control. Farber himself maintains a merciless pace, struggling to balance the demands of work and family life with a never-ending list of hands-on tasks.

“Building NETbilling from the ground up for the past many years has taught me that this industry is not as much about having the best software as it is about forging long-term relationships and providing a level of customer service not found elsewhere,” Farber stated.

Farber realizes that his continued dedication and involvement in NETbilling has helped motivate his staff to be the best they can be, both personally and in the business world.

“I often see businesses fail once the owner ‘steps back,’” Farber told XBIZ. “This has never been the way I operate in any projects or businesses that I am involved in.”

“Running NETbilling has been a tremendous opportunity and I have learned to value every client and employee, regardless of who they are,” Farber added. "Every individual and company has unique needs, and I have tried to focus on getting the most our of our staff and focusing on each of their strengths to be able to provide our merchants with a level of service and customer service that they will not receive with any other company.”

This means that for many new clients, some of whom may have no processing experience or have only used third-party processors in the past, a certain degree of hand-holding may be required — a task the NETBilling staff excels in.

This client training is ongoing, as new technology such as mobile billing applications, enters the scene. These tools provide enhanced mobile marketing opportunities for both on- and offline merchants, adult and mainstream.

The need for PCI compliance and to protect cardholder data and privacy also brings clients to NETBilling; a company that is renowned for having a realistic and responsible outlook on business growth, which has made it an expert at risk aversion — a subject that merchant’s more familiar with the “control” of thirdparty processors may need to study, but one opening the door to the best practices and technology for simultaneously making, and saving, money.

As for being optimistic about the future of online adult, while Farber concedes that the adult industry faces continued challenges, he notes that there is still plenty of room for adaptation and growth in this segment as Internet use in general continues to increase.

“With adult businesses continuing to collaborate and merchants looking for new ways to enhance the user experience, the industry will expand,” Farber told XBIZ, noting that live cams, dating, and mobile offers are where he sees the most growth in the near future.

“We see our clients coming out with new products and services almost daily,” Farber concluded, adding that “We are often surprised by what we see that sells well.”

This continuing market diversity is a promising omen for the industry’s health.

At the end of the day, much of NETBilling’s success is based upon this high level of trust in, and the warm smile and approachability of, its president, Mitch Farber, a man that knows the value of building relationships — and businesses — for the long haul; with the first 15 years behind, and the future ahead.