Payment Plus: Hotter than Hell's Kitchen

by David Penn

Red Hat's recent acquisition of Hell's Kitchen Systems, makers of credit processing software geared specifically for Linux, means a boost in e-commerce offerings for servers running Red Hat's upcoming Professional Edition. Touted here and elsewhere as the credit payment-processing system for Linux, Hell's Kitchen Systems' CCVS software will provide "point-of-sale"-like credit card reading, enabling businesses to complete their own payment processing.

Not bad, at all. For a start.

But consider your server running LiveProcessor 2.1 software from Payment Plus, an e-commerce software provider which takes more than a little exception at being left out of the payment processing on Linux conversation.

"Our software is designed to run on a Linux server," noted Jeff Foster, vice president for business development at Payment Plus, in an e-mail. "Over 90% of our customers have a 'Linux box,' no matter what system they are running internally."

LiveProcessor is the "payment processor" from Payment Plus, a company that has been processing payments for companies including Prudential, AT&T Labs, AAA, Tupperware, Quote.com and many others. According to Mr. Foster, Payment Plus processes payments for just shy of 60 companies, and averages over 500,000 such transactions a day. Oddly enough, considering the recognition Hell's Kitchen received, Payment Plus is by far the more complete payment processing "solution," offering both frame relay connections and real time authorization for high volume clients.

The Payment Plus e-commerce "package" consists of LiveProcessor 2.1; "Assist," the company's open source browser interface; and an embedded, searchable database product which stores all transactions, authorizations, declines and deposits.

"Our clients can immediately determine average methods of payment, peaks and valleys in transaction volume, check versus credit ratios, average transaction size, etc. at any time with up to the minute data," wrote Mr. Foster.

Payment Plus also has the advantage of working with Paymentech, which handles more call center and Web transactions than any other single payment processor (its clients include AOL Time Warner, 'nuff said). As the sole software vendor supporting all of Paymentech's features--which include electronic check processing, state-of-the-art address verification, nine international currencies (including both Yen and Euro), as well as debit and private issue cards--Payment Plus offers a wider array of e-commerce options for both larger and smaller businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs than most competitors--including Red Hat acquisition, Hell's Kitchen.

"Our base product can handle five concurrent transactions per second and tens of thousands (every day)," adds Mr. Foster, "with every transaction averaging four seconds." This is ten to twenty seconds faster than what is offered by Hell's Kitchen's CCVS-- according to the company's literature--without even taking into account the dial-up connection CCVS uses for their authorization process, which can add as much as half a minute to the transaction time.

So, with all this, how did a company like Payment Plus get overlooked?

Good question. "(There is) a general frustration when you are competing with a phenomenally funded (yet) inferior product, as CCVS has just become. With the dot com, IPO and merger mania of these times, it seems that no one is interested in the commercial viability of products anymore, but only who is funding them."

N.B. Payment Plus will have a trade booth at the upcoming Linux World conference this February in New York City. Booth #119, as of this writing.

email: david@ssc.com

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