Sterling Grows with Clients From B2B Deals
Smaller companies begin using payment processing.
By Margie Manning
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Businesses that buy and sell to other businesses comprise the growing sweet spot for Sterling Payment Technologies.
Sterling, a national provider of payment technology and services, expects B2B transactions to be a major focus for the next five years, said Paul Hunter, president and chief executive.
Sterling is one of only about 20 companies in the United States with merchant acquiring and processing services, moving money between a bank and a merchant when a credit or debit transaction occurs. The company expects to process about $5 billion in payments this year.
While much of the total volume is from smaller consumer transactions, a single B2B deal can account for as much as $1 million — and those types of deals increasingly are popular.
“Oftentimes today, a business will find it’s cheaper to receive a card for payment than to issue an invoice and wait for the money,” Hunter said.
Keeping customer service local
Hunter founded Sterling in January 2001 after his interest in the payments industry was sparked by a failed investment a few years earlier. He knew how payments worked from the merchant side because he previously was managing partner for Grand Prix Car Wash, a Bay area chain with a heavy volume of card transactions, and he wanted to start a company that would bring high-paying jobs to the area.
Sterling now employs 150 people, including 120 in Tampa.
While there are larger card processors such as First Data Corp., which handled $1.4 trillion of payment transaction dollar volume last year, and Chase Paymentech, which processed nearly $470 billion in dollar volume in 2010, Sterling’s niche is technology that helps its customers run their businesses more effectively and increase sales, as well as customer service. Sterling’s customer service group is based in Tampa, and the company does not outsource management of the customer experience, Hunter said.
The company’s technology is particularly appealing to small to mid-size businesses that don’t have access to the expensive and proprietary systems developed by bigger businesses.
Sterling recently introduced BRIDGE, an online management product that lets smaller companies such as retailers and restaurants swipe cards through their cash registers then send the sales data to the company’s back office operation for accounting purposes. Previously, small companies re-entered sales data into back-office systems manually, increasing the opportunity for errors.
– Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Business JournalBack To News