Moneris adds Web services to Merchant Direct

BALTIMORE – To John Morgan, the one billion transactions his company processes each year have a value that goes well beyond simple money-making fees.

The senior manager of information technology for Moneris Solutions Corp. says

there’s an opportunity to turn the tremendous amount of information the company handles into value-added services. In February, the Toronto-based merchant processing company launched Merchant Direct, an application powered by Information Builders Inc. software that allows Moneris’ merchant customers to view their debit, Visa and Mastercard transaction data online in real time.

For the implementation, Moneris was honoured here at Information Builders 2002 Summit Sunday with the Most Scalable Application award. But Moneris also has its sights on layering additional services like copy-request charge-backs and peer reporting onto Merchant Direct.

“Managing information is where we want to add value,” Morgan says. “I can’t think of an organization that has more consumer spending information than we do.”

On Monday, Information Builders introduced its WebFocus Information Delivery Platform, which includes, among other features, user administration services designed to make the kind of user-tailored information delivery Moneris envisions possible within a secure Information Builders interface.

Merchant Direct allows merchants to view their sales data by the day and month, for individual stores and their operations as a whole. But Moneris hopes to enable its merchants to recreate their receipts – the aforementioned copy request charge-backs – online sometime next quarter, about the same time it begins mass enrollment of merchants to the Merchant Direct through the company’s Web site.

Two thousand merchants, about two per cent of the eligible Moneris client base, have signed up to the service the old-fashioned way. About half of Moneris’ 330,000 merchants, those already on the RBC Financial Group’s BASE24 processing platform, can currently use Merchant Direct. Moneris was formed in Dec. 2000 as a joint venture between RBC and the Bank of Montreal and is in the process of migrating BMO’s merchant customers over the RBC’s platform, the most pressing issue facing the company, according to Morgan.

But Morgan says Moneris is also focused on bringing value-add services to Merchant Direct, including a peer reporting feature that will by the end of the year allow its merchants to see not only sales data and trend information from their own operations, but from their direct competitors as well. To a degree.

“We’ll have rules in place that you couldn’t figure out who that competition was,” Morgan said. “If there’s only a Home Depot and a Home Hardware in town, we wouldn’t do it.”

Moneris also plans to provide its merchants with detailed demographic data of their customers – as much as privacy laws allow – and to facilitate direct marketing between businesses, for example, when an office supplies wholesaler wants to alert other businesses about its sales.

“I think it’s very important when you consider how much they spend on advertising, how they can target their advertising much, much better.”

Information Builders founder and president Gerald Cohen praised Moneris, along with the New York City Department of Health, as being among the leaders when it comes to sharing information with customers and suppliers. He said 20 per cent of new sales of WebFOCUS servers are for applications that extend beyond enterprise walls, up from between five and 10 per cent last year.

“It’s a cultural thing. Not everybody is ready to share all their information,” Cohen said. “Businesses have to visualize what they can do by sharing information.”

But Frank Buytendijk, Gartner’s research director for The Netherlands, said it is imperative that companies share information with partners and suppliers, and devise plans to share their data now so that they will be fully engaged five years from now, when sharing information will be commonplace amongst enterprises.

“Enterprises that sit on information will not survive,” Buytendijk said. “We’ll see enterprises coming to the conclusion that the information they have will become more valuable than their products or services.”

He said companies need not let security concerns impede the sharing of information , since companies are already exposed to regulators and shareholders.

“The point is enterprises are living in a glass house: everything they do will be seen. In managing your enterprise, the mindset should be, ‘Everything I do is public,’” he said. “The more you are able to put the information out and sleep at night, the better able you are to survive.”

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