Four years ago, RBC Financial Group (Toronto, $432 billion CAN) and BMO Financial Group (Toronto, $265 billion CAN) concluded that it was inefficient for each of them to support separate merchant processing subsidiaries. So they started Moneris Solutions (Toronto), a joint investment, which now processes payments for approximately 350,000 merchants in Canada and the United States.
Using Moneris as a processor, merchants can bank with anyone - not just with RBC or BMO. But those merchants don't need any other processors. "In Canada, we were the first organization to process all card types effectively," says Al Tinney, CIO of Moneris Solutions. "In the past, a merchant would have to have an ongoing relationship with multiple companies for multiple card types."
Moneris' online reporting tool, Merchant Direct, presents merchants with rapid access to both current and historical sales information across all payment types. "We're providing information about how they're doing compared to last year, last month and last week," says Tinney, and it's all in a paperless environment.
The access to data can be revelatory. "A lot of merchants have their own CRM [customer relationship management] systems and point-of-sale systems - but a lot don't," says Michael Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer, Information Builders (New York), which provides Moneris with business intelligence and data warehouse capabilities. "This is the first time they're getting this kind of information."
As the leading card processor in Canada, Moneris generates economic statistics across the country and down to the industry-specific level. "It allows businesses to compare their volumes with industry numbers," says Moneris' Tinney.
By becoming a de facto data service as well as a processor, Moneris can differentiate its service from what might otherwise be considered a commodity business of clearing transactions. "Our objective is to offer new products and to broaden and deepen relationships," says Tinney. Merchant Direct "helps us to get [our customers] to want and need our services," he adds.
Moneris has taken strides to bring its merchants online, and it has launched a managed private network dedicated to payments. "If you're on the public Internet, if you have a question [about your connection], you're going to call your public Internet service provider," says Tinney. But that's not good enough for payments applications, he adds, which call for a higher level of responsiveness and availability. By partnering with telecom firms, Moneris can make sure that any service outages are restored as quickly as possible, by technicians who already know the merchants and their configurations.
Other reporting tools in Merchant Direct help its users to combat card fraud, including reports that highlight unmatched refunds. "Usually, with a refund, there's an initial purchase," says Morgan. "If there's no matching credit or initial purchase, that could be an indicator of fraud.