OMAHA - First Data Merchant Services has signed a long-term contract with Certified Merchant Services, a Plano, Tex., independent sales organization that focuses on small and high-risk merchants.

The First Data Corp. merchant processing subsidiary, known for its big bank alliances, is trying to be more aggressive in promoting its services to the sales organizations, which also foster merchant relationships.

First Data was one of the first processors for independent sales organizations. Many of them have "grown up" on First Data and become among the most successful in the industry, a spokeswoman said.

Kurt Stawhecker, senior vice president of First Data Merchant Services, said the contract demonstrates its ability to develop products and services that independent sales organizations need "to continue growing at such a rapid pace."

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