Electronic Payments CEO Michael Nardy was named to the Forty Under 40 class by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) in 2020. Forty Under 40 is an annual honor given to gamechangers at the crossroads of payments and technology who are propelling the industry forward. Class members are chosen based on their impact to the industry, professional character, and leadership.
As part of this honor, Michael answered ETA’s interview questions on his history in the payments industry, how he started Electronic Payments, and how he sees the future of payments technology.
Q: How did you get your start in payments? What was your first job in the business?
A: I started at the age of 19, while I was a student at Boston College. I was doing web programming, which required that I interface through an application I wrote into a payment gateway. Choices were limited early on in 1999, but I integrated this software into Authorize.net and a merchant account provided by Wells Fargo. From there, I became an independent sales agent (ISO) for Harris Bank and Moneris’ merchant services program, and later a full liability ISO boarding my own accounts onto Cardsystems and Paymentech. Through the years, the company continued to grow organically and now processes over $13 Billion annually and partners with more than 900 sales agents across the country. To me, the best part of this business is sales. I still get to work with local customers selling and installing point of sale (POS) systems, our gateway, and other services, which enable me to keep my skill set relevant and understand what our feet-on-the-street merchant level salespeople (MLS), agents, and ISO partners are looking for to remain competitive. It’s exciting that a company started in college is still going strong today, 20 years later, and it’s the only job I’ve ever had!
Q: What is your primary responsibility in your current position?
A: As CEO, I am extremely hands on. From directing our efforts in growing our platform and POS initiatives, to managing strategy and day-to-day operations, I have a lot of interaction with our amazing team of nearly 150 staff members. We have great leadership and competence in payments, and it’s wonderful to see these awesome people work hard every day towards our common goal.
Q: What is your favorite part about working in payments?
A: The people are absolutely dynamic! Some of my best relationships, including my marriage, have come from the payments industry. I have lifelong friends, business colleagues, and customers as a result of this industry.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you have received?
A: I received a few key pieces of advice—the first, from my grandfather: “Make sure you call people back. If you don’t know the answer to something, find out. If someone calls you, call them back in a timely manner. You’d be surprised how few companies actually call their customers back.” The second piece of advice was from an industry mentor: “Think of this business at the macro level. Portfolios are not one account—they are many. If you drive your business forward at the portfolio level, you will focus on the bigger picture and won’t get lost in the weeds.”
Q: What traits are most necessary for a young person to succeed in this field?
A: Many young people seem to have trouble trusting their own judgment. Just because there are older people or many who have come before who may discourage you based on their experiences, if you think you can do something, chances are, you can! I thought we could build something that ran better than our much larger competition, and we did!
Q: How do you foresee the payments space changing over the next 5-10 years?
A: More consolidation and faster payments with seamless onboarding. Payments are ubiquitous and they will continue to become a more seamless and embedded part of our lives. To the extent we don’t really think about ordering a movie from Amazon and having it play on our TVs, we will continue that trend in all aspects of our lives, from local food ordering to eCommerce and entertainment. The world is moving more and more towards on-demand and real-time.
Q: What other passions do you have outside of your career?
A: Aside from being fanatical about payments and this company, I enjoy participating in triathlons, road races, playing tennis, and skiing. I also enjoy being the dad of two girls who amaze me every day.
For more information, please see our press release on ETA’s Forty Under 40 class.