Editor’s note: The following article is a part of disRUPT, a special series on Silicon Prairie News. This series is a partnership between The Reader, Scott Technology Center and us, Silicon Prairie News. To learn more, see our post: Special Series: disRUPT II.
(Left: Financial Transmission Network Inc. CEO Kurt Matis. Photo by Marlon Wright.)
Merchants offer customers many ways to pay, including checks, credit cards and online transactions.
This creates customer convenience, according to Kurt Matis, but it also leads to back-office complexity for merchants and higher costs for everyone.
“If a business wants to scan checks, they usually need one piece of equipment,” Matis says. “If they want ACH (automated clearing house), they have to log into a different part of the bank or use a different company. They have a different technology for web payments. They have to train on three or four systems.”
Matis is the CEO of Financial Transmission Network Inc. (FTNI). He believes his small west Omaha company has a solution to this big problem.
Before founding FTNI, Matis co-founded L&M Energy Partners in Omaha, and was chief financial officer of R.J. Thompson Holdings, a company that was acquired by TD Waterhouse. He is a Certified Public Accountant, and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Business Administration from Creighton University.
FTNI creates software platforms allowing merchants to accept all types of customer payments. Matis says his company works directly with a few large merchants such as Mutual of Omaha and West Corporation. In most cases, however, FTNI’s platforms are sold through banks to merchants in many industries.
Matis says FTNI’s ETran platform offers remote deposit capture, ACH transactions, credit card payments and ID validation in one package.
In addition to the benefits of a single system, Matis says ETran lets merchants work with multiple banks.
“We are agnostic (about vendors),” Matis says. “If the merchant wants to deal with four different banks, their main bank obviously doesn’t want that. We provide them the technology to have multiple relationships.”
ETran is offered in a “software as service” model. Since it is accessed online, merchant customers do not purchase hardware and are not responsible for software updates.
“In the past, sometimes you had to spend $40,000 on a new software system, train your people, and buy new hardware,” Matis says. “It could cost you $70,000 to $100,000. Now for less than $20,000, you can have a customized solution with web payments and everything else.”
FTNI was founded in 2007 by a group of payments industry executives, including several from ACI Worldwide.
The company has 10 employees, but recently moved to a new location near 132nd and Maple with room to grow. Matis says it is not a typical entrepreneurial venture.
“This is our third or fourth startup for this group,” he says. “I have been with this group of guys for 10-12 years. I’d like to think we are unique because of the experience, and not just a bunch of guys right out of college trying to do something with technology.”
The company is focused on strengthening its presence in different verticals. For example, FTNI currently serves over 250 property management firms, along with some nonprofit organizations and insurance companies.
“Now we have Physicians Mutual and Mutual of Omaha,” Matis says. “We also have two other insurance companies right behind them. We are going to get very deep into that vertical and become an expert.”
Matis recently returned from an industry conference convinced that FTNI’s approach is the right one.
“Everyone there was saying merchants don’t want siloed solutions,” he says. “They want a single platform. We’ve taken what’s historically been an a la carte service and made it a single source, because that’s where the market is moving. We were one of the first to offer this.”
The payments industry has played a large role in the Omaha economy for years, according to Matis, including companies such as ACI Worldwide, First Data Resources, First National Merchant Services and PayPal.
“Kurt Strawhecker from the Strawhecker Group once estimated at a Chamber meeting that over 11,000 people in Omaha deal with electronic payments,” he says. “This is a growth industry and we want to grow with it.”
Matis says this growth will be accomplished by serving a wider range of merchant companies. Within five years, he predicts FTNI’s platforms will be used by everyone from multinational corporations to mom-and-pop retailers.
“As we gain more knowledge, we’ll get much deeper in certain verticals,” he says. “Our business should be a lot bigger in five years.”
Read more about FTNI and see a video interview with Matis in our previous article: Kurt Matis co-founds company focused on simplifying e-payments.