For a smaller bank, finding resources to expand a line of business is a challenge in the best of times. In rough times, going outside the organization to get help is almost a necessity. That’s one reason BankAtlantic has partnered with TransFirst to integrate and expand the bank’s merchant services program as the $6 billion Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.-based institution looks to grow its relationships with corporate customers. “If I had to build this platform myself, I couldn’t cost justify it,” says Douglas Freeman, chief corporate banking executive for BankAtlantic. “It’s a pretty mammoth undertaking to build out all of the electronic capabilities necessary to do this.”

So instead of building out those capabilities internally, the bank will leverage TransFirst’s web enabled centralized payments processing system to provide business, corporate and municipal customers with local and national processing at all times, a reporting system, a management system providing access to merchant services and bankcard products. The partnership also includes collaboration with TransFirst’s sales and support teams.

“Banks have so many products and services that take up time and energy that merchant services takes a back burner,” says Marla Knutson, president of the national financial institutions division at TransFirst in Louisville, Co, addressing what she sees as TransFirst’s opportunity to partner with banks to offer merchant services. “Merchant services take a back burner. It’s a fee-based ancillary product in a bank’s mind.”

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