Mace Horowitz, vice president of operations for Alternative Merchant Processing (AMP), likes to keep things simple and straightforward.
"We provide direct merchant accounts, both domestically and internationally, for hard to place, unconventional or high volume merchants."
That may sound like a very serious gig, but for Horowitz the company's actual function is even more basic. "We are a service provider; a true service provider."
Established circa 2001, AMP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boca Raton-based Charge Card Systems, offering merchant services to other high risk industries, such as travel, loan modification and health benefit companies, but retaining a definite soft spot for the businesses and people in adult.
"It's a great space," Horowitz said. "The people in it are far different from any other, more like real people than the stuffy suits in other industries that you have to set up a specific time and day just to go hang out with."
Hanging out is especially enjoyable when in the service of products and services that also are in great demand.
"We offer a direct MID (merchant identification number; a unique number that identifies merchants for reference and billing purposes), no aggregation, no third-party, no ewallet. We give merchants their own MID, with their own descriptor and customer service phone number, which nobody else shares and nobody else is in."
Still, the bottom line remains providing hands-on service. "We will supply a prospect or merchant with whatever solution they want and can qualify for," Horowitz said. "If someone comes to me, and, for whatever reason, wants an account internationally, or specifically, a non U.S.-based account, if I can support that based on what the merchant's needs are, I will."
He added quickly, "We are not here to reinvent the wheel or force anybody to do anything they don't want to do, or give them something they're not already looking for, but as a service provider, we also are not going to convince somebody that they don't want something if they tell me they want it. I'll give them an education, and then I'll ask them the question again, but if their answer is the same, 'Yes, I want to be offshore," then, by all means, that's what I will get them."
That said, Horowitz does not recommend moving funds offshore. Indeed, he warns those who do that they run the very real risk of not being able to get their funds back.
"It happens," he said. "Keep in mind; I'm talking about more than just adult companies. We would get phone calls all the time. 'My money hasn't been released; they're not taking my calls.'"
While Horowitz readily admits that some companies have legitimate reasons for wanting to move funds and processing offshore, his advice — indeed, his pitch — is to keep one's treasure at home, where it belongs.
"Doing transactions internationally gives you a little bit more leniency with respect to chargeback ratios, but there are domestic banks that are willing to exceed the Association thresholds on ratios, because they are able to manage the accounts," Horowitz said. "So, if somebody tells me they want to go offshore because they can get a higher chargeback rate, first, that raises a red flag, because they know they're going to be a high chargeback merchant, but also, I know I can get them a competitive rate domestically once we overcome whatever hurdles there are getting their ratios down."
AMP claims it actually can do much more than that. "We now represent a bank that will do high risk coded accounts that we can assure the reader was not there before," Horowitz said. "We are introducing a solution to the industry that is going to supplement the solutions that they currently have for merchant services, domestically.
"It's a bank the majority of the adult space does not have, and probably doesn't even know about," Horowitz continued. "I'm offering something to the industry that they are in desperate need of, a new bank that will register 5967 (high-risk registration). No matter where they are processing or how much, we are talking here about adding redundancy, the ability to cascade even further, and another way to hedge your bets, so to speak."
Horowitz noted that a few factors set AMP apart from its competitors.
"We provide full reporting from the bank side, which differs greatly from the reporting you see from gateway companies, which are basically just conduits between the card holder and the acquiring bank," Horowitz said. "But I'm providing you with reporting on what's happening on the bank side, and there's nothing more exact or precise than that report.
"But the thing that separates us the most is that we care. We care about the long-term success of our merchants and I'm sure that's a cliché; we really are there for them. They know us on a first name basis, they have cellphones and work numbers for us, and they know that we are looking out for their best interests. We ensure that banks stay open and compliant, that there are no issues with the account, we are fair and don't take advantage of any situations as far as rates and fees, and we're respectful. I guess my point would be, try us. Let me show you what makes us different. Talk is cheap."
Horowitz said that he has seen a lot of consolidation in the business, and the economy had got a lot of people stressed out, but he thinks that the global reach and resiliency inherent in the adult industry will see many of its players through, as long as they keep their noses clean and remain in touch, literally.
"As far as advice to merchants," Horowitz said, "all I can suggest to people, besides doing legal business that doesn't push the envelope too far, is to be available, because it is all about communication. If there's a problem with their account and we pro-actively give them a call and can't find them, it could easily become a problem. Proactive banking, after all, is safe banking."
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High Risk Merchant Account, Offshore Merchant Account, Adult Merchant Accounts.
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