published Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Chattanooga companies Buy it Local, TransCard team up

Amy Walker, the president and chief executive officer of Buy it Local LLC, talks about their partnership with TransCard in a meeting at the TransCard office on Tuesday.
Amy Walker, the president and chief executive officer of Buy it Local LLC, talks about their partnership with TransCard in a meeting at the TransCard office on Tuesday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
  • photo
    Chris Fuller, vice president and general manager of the Red Square Division of TransCard, talks about the partnership with Buy it Local LLC in a meeting at the TransCard office.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

Looking to power up the growth of her prepaid gift card company, a Chattanooga business woman is teaming with another local venture to help merchants better process transactions.

"Buy it Downtown has experienced triple-digit growth in card sales, but technology has lagged behind demand," said Amy J. Walker, chief executive of Buy it Local LLC, the parent of Buy it Downtown.

Walker's company will leverage technology developed by Chattanooga prepaid card firm TransCard LLC. She said TransCard's state-of-the-art transaction platform will make it easier for merchants to redeem Buy it Local's prepaid employee incentive and gift cards.

The result will be growth opportunities for both companies, Walker said.

TransCard Vice President Chris Fuller said he expects that both businesses will add a total of about 15 people to meet expected demand. He said TransCard stands to benefit from receiving a fee for each transaction.

"We'll be doing business locally," Fuller added. "We're excited to be able to demonstrate our cutting-edge financial transaction technology in our hometown."

Walker said the new technology is expected to be up and running early next year. She said merchants who accept MasterCard will simply need to sign up with Buy it Local to be an accepting location.

"As our merchant network and card sales have grown larger, our initial transaction processing technology has become more labor intensive," Walker said, adding that has hurt the ability to scale up the company. "We've taken out the hassle factor for the merchants."

She said that with the new platform, dubbed Buy it *2.0, her company can expand further in Chattanooga and into other markets. Corporations which wish to reward or provide incentives to employees are among her key customers, Walker said.

Buy it Local, started about six year ago, is now in the Chattanooga and Knoxville markets and services about 200 merchants, Walker said. She has a license to serve Sarasota, Fla., and she's looking to rapidly grow into other markets. Walker said the business has less than a half dozen employees.

She declined to reveal revenues, but said her company has directed more than $3 million in consumer spending and economic impact to participating merchants and businesses in downtown Chattanooga.

TransCard earlier this year announced plans to fuel its growth by selling a part of the business to U.S. Bank. Fuller said that while the company was in 90 banks last year, that number is expected to grow to 290 by the end of 2013.

"We are seeing increased growth opportunities in the future for expansion of micro networks, such as Buy it Local's," he said.

TransCard's technology was originally developed by Chattanooga-based trucking company U.S. Xpress. TransCard recently moved most of its offices outside of the trucking company to space at Riverfront Parkway and Main Street. In May, TransCard unveiled plans to hire 69 new workers.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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