Rainey Stricklin
What's most striking about Internet payment service provider Epoch is that though it has just kicked off its second decade in the business, the company's innovation, attitude and drive are reminiscent of a startup company destined to succeed.

Activity flourishes in the halls of Epoch's Santa Monica offices, which were recently vacated by Google. There are giant-screen monitors showing customer service wait times, dry-erase boards with ideas scrawled in blue and red ink and a diverse group of people at work in their cubicles or offices. Employees stay caffeinated with free soda and Starbucks coffee and are served fresh vegetables and fruit each morning.

Fresh from its 10th anniversary party held in November, Epoch is kicking off year 11 with a new address, a host of new premium features and some new faces and departments that promise to make 2007 a year of positive changes for the award-winning processor.

"2007 is already shaping up to be a fantastic year for Epoch," Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Curran said. "We've assembled what I feel is one of the best teams in the industry, and that combined with our portfolio of technical innovations makes me confident that we'll meet and exceed the expectations of our current and potential clients and set new standards in third-party billing."

The hottest news to come from Epoch this year is the offering of EpochStats, the powerful cascading software and affiliate backend powered by MPA3. For the first time, clients have the ability to use cascading and affiliate software for free, without the need for hosting or software installation.

Inside the program, users find a variety of tools invaluable to any affiliate program owner, such as the ability to payout on revshare or pay-persignup, detailed statistics on everything from hosted galleries to referring URLS and individual affiliates, plus comprehensive retention and profitability reports.

Program owners also will be able to easily add secondary processors, execute mass mailings and effortlessly upload a variety of marketing tools, such as hosted galleries, banners, rotating pictures and movies of the day. Additionally, sponsors can implement a second-tier webmaster referral program.

"We are very excited to be the first billing company to offer a true cascading affiliate program for our clients absolutely free of charge," said Lange Palmer, director of affiliate relations for Epoch. "The amount of webmasters taking advantage of this offer has been incredible. Our goal is to increase every potential sign up.

"With offering a system that tracks sales from one processor to the next, not only will your sales increase 10 percent to 15 percent, your affiliate site ratios will improve," he said. "We even went as far as to put in the option that will allow Epoch to pay your affiliate sales processed by your secondary processor."

The advantage to affiliates is clear: They have direct access to the stats of each processor used, as well as the ability to get a Primary Affiliate Code, which allows them to combine multiple accounts from multiple processors into a single biweekly payment. Plus, EpochStats gives sponsors the ability to offer affiliates a wide variety of marketing tools to allow them to create more dynamic sites.

Many of Epoch's clients and customers say they would much rather communicate online than on the telephone. In response, Epoch recently launched its live chat support, both for the client and the end user. Epoch is the only processor to provide this service, and offers it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Epoch's call center, located in the company's main offices, offers more than just support. Rather than simply accepting a cancellation, agents are trained to retain the customer with parameters set by the client.

These new features compliment an already wellrounded set of premium features designed to make Epoch's clients more money, including EZClick cross sells and upsells on the join page, members' area and in email, as well as retention tools including special offers given at cancellation.

Rainey Stricklin is the director of business development for Epoch Systems and can be reached at