Fresh off two acquisitions in as many weeks, payments processor Payroc WorldAccess is poised to close on two more this month and doesn't plan to let up, the company's new president says.
Payroc acquired Select Merchant Services, also known as Retriever Merchant Solutions, this month, without disclosing the financial terms. That added $5 billion in additional payment flow from retail and restaurant merchants to a company that's now processing $33 billion annually. A company spokesman declined to disclose information about the other recent acquisition, other than to confirm it occurred.
Tinley Park, Illinois-based Payroc plans to keep buying both independent sales organizations which sell processing equipment to merchants, as well as technology companies, because Payroc is experienced at managing that kind of growth after a bevy of purchases over the past decade, said Adam Oberman, a founder of the business who was promoted to president this year.
"We'll always continue to acquire," Oberman said in an interview. "We're never going to get out of the acquiring game."
Payroc's aggressive acquisition strategy reflects an industry in flux, with smaller players and fintech upstarts jockeying to unseat the long dominant banks and processing stalwarts such as Fiserv, FIS and Global Payments. Even before the pandemic put e-commerce payments processing in high-gear, the incumbents were seeking to renew their merchant relationships in the face of new competition from rising rivals like Payroc.
While the biggest players in the industry still dwarf Payroc, it cracked a top 20 ranking of processing companies last year and is growing faster than most.
Payroc's annual earnings, before depreciation, taxes and amortization, is about $70 million, more than double what it was in October 2019 before a big merger which was backed by a new private equity sponsor, Parthenon Capital. Oberman, who was previously chief revenue officer, predicts that figure will keep growing with more acquisitions, to nearly $100 million by 2022.
The company has a solid source of capital from Parthenon Capital, which has invested in other payments companies as well. Parthenon beat out Boston rival TA Associates in 2019 to recapitalize Payroc and take a minority ownership stake as Payroc merged with Nxgen, Payscape and BluePay Canada.
Prior to that milestone merger, Payroc acquired Integrity Payment Systems in 2018 and iTransact Group in 2016.
Payroc is still small relative to the biggest players, said Oberman, and said the company has about a one percent share of the market. Still, it's growing rapidly, with a 15.6% jump in volume last year, according to payments industry research firm Nilson Report, which shared the report with Payments Dive.
In a ranking of the industry's processors, Payroc moved up to no. 19 last year, from no. 21 in 2019, according to Nilson Report's ranking of merchant acquirers in the U.S.
A unit of New York banking giant JPMorgan Chase was the largest by far last year, with $1.2 trillion of merchants' payment volume, followed by Jacksonville, Florida-based FIS and a unit of San Francisco bank Wells Fargo in third.
The banks moved away from their relationships with merchants in the late 20th century, but more recently they're rediscovering the benefits of those ties as a new breed of fintech companies challenge them on all fronts, said Nilson Report Publisher David Robertson. "Banks want to be in the payments business--they don't want to concede the payments business to non-banks," Robertson said.
Payroc's history is longer than some fintech upstarts. Oberman, 38, started a payments sales business with his brother Nick Oberman in 2003 and expanded it over nearly 20 years. With its big iTransact acquisition, they finally lured their father and industry veteran, James Oberman, 62, to join the growing company as its CEO.
The junior Oberman doesn't mind being a relatively smaller player in the industry. He believes it gives his company an edge because the bigger players easily lose sight of good customer service and keeping their sales contractors happy, he said. His 1,500 sales contractors service about 100,000 merchants.
"We are the company that is silently in the night taking over a lot of capital and a lot of market share," Oberman said.
Payroc may be all about acquisitions, but it's not interested in being the target of one. Oberman said overtures from buyers are becoming more frequent, including two recently, one from a larger processor peer and another from a private equity firm. "Some people are getting sick of us disturbing their marketplace," he said.
Oberman also predicted Payroc won't go public anytime soon, though it's likely at some point in the future, he said.