TSYS is one of the largest credit card processors in the United States. The company has two primary areas of business. The first, which will be the focus of this review, is its direct sales channel called “TSYS Merchant Solutions.” The second is its processing platform, “TSYS Acquiring Solutions.” It’s important to understand the difference between these two entities because your relationship with the company will be different depending on which channel you’re dealing with. First we’ll cover the acquiring side.
TSYS Acquiring Solutions (tsys.com/solutions-services/acquiring-services/index.html) is a merchant acquirer located in Tempe, Arizona. The company specializes in acting as a backend credit card processor for non-acquiring banks, Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs), and companies that create and sell credit card processing technology. In other words, it supplies the credit card processing for other companies that sell merchant services. As a merchant in this scenario, you would have a third party company between you and TSYS that would be setting up and managing your merchant account.
On the direct sales side, TSYS has its own sales offices with dedicated sales staff that can set up a merchant directly with credit card processing services. This channel is called “TSYS Merchant Solutions” (tsysmerchantsolutions.com). In this scenario, there is no third party company between you and TSYS, and you will be dealing with TSYS directly for account setup and management.
TSYS has been processing credit card payments since the 1970s and is one of one of the few processors listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TSS). TSYS has acquired several other processors in its history, including First National Merchant Solutions (FNMS), Clarity Payment Solutions, Card Tech Ltd., TermNet Merchant Services, and, most recently, ProPay. Some of these companies have remained independently branded while others have been absorbed into the TSYS brand name. The president of TSYS is Thomas Boyer.
It is important to understand that a very large part of TSYS’s business is supplying backend credit card processing services for other sales organizations that resell services to small businesses seeking merchant accounts. In many cases, TSYS does not supply merchant accounts directly to merchants although the TSYS brand name may appear on the merchant account agreement. The banks, subsidiaries, and partners that resell TSYS credit card processing can often set the terms of their own contracts and mark up the processing rates and fees as they please. This practice can cause confusion with merchants as TSYS may have had nothing to do with the terms and pricing of the account. To add to the confusion, some partners manage the customer service of their accounts in-house while others outsource it to TSYS’s Back Office Support program. Depending on the partner, a merchant may either deal with the partner’s customer service or TSYS’s customer service. For the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on TSYS’s back office support and direct sales channel.