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Why Priority Your Business Is Our Priority

Our People

Priority is large enough to provide the processing, products and services that merchants need to effectively manage payments and grow their businesses. But we're small enough to get to know our clients and care about their success. Our size means we can also be agile in responding to customer requests or concerns - for example, our 4 Rings and Resolve service standard that calls will be answered by a qualified individual within four rings.

Every member of Priority's management team has a long history in bank card processing, averaging 20+ years each. Together, we have knowledge of every aspect of the industry, and definite ideas about how service and efficiency can be improved. We have taken that inside knowledge of the industry and expanded our reach to provide exciting technological innovations that resonate with today's merchants and reflect the way they want to do business. Merchants want next generation solutions that are easy to use, effective, and economical. Priority delivers all that with style.

We care about the broader community as well. In addition to making contributions ourselves, we also developed Project Give Back, to help organizations establish new sources for fundraising.

 

Priority Payment Systems CA Leadership

Richard A. Cruz - President, Priority Payment Systems CA

Richard Cruz has been instrumental in the credit card industry since 1996. Prior to becoming the President and founder of Priority Payment Systems CA, Cruz built a distinguished career at CardCenter Payment Systems in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Serving as Chief Executive, Mr. Cruz was responsible for the leadership and growth of CardCenter. He moved to CardCenter Payment Systems after 11 years at Lynk Systems (now known as RBS Worldpay). While at Lynk Systems, Mr. Cruz was recognized as Sales Manager of the year six times. He was promoted to Western Regional Manager and was the recipient of the distinguished Presidents Award.

At Priority Payment Systems CA, Mr. Cruz is responsible for all aspects of the company and provides leadership and strategic planning for the company.

 

Priority Payment Systems Corporate Management Team

The heart of our business is our elite team of executives, each individual dedicated to the same high standard of integrity, responsiveness and professionalism. Every member of our management team has a long history in the bank card processing business, averaging 20+ years each. We're using that knowledge to provide innovative, next generation solutions, and we stand behind every transaction with world-class service and support.

 

 

John V. Priore

President/Chief Executive Officer

John V. Priore is President and CEO of Priority Payment Systems. Founded in 2005 by Priore and five others, the company is headquartered in Alpharetta, GA with over 280 employees. Priority is a third party payment processor with divisions dedicated to merchant acquiring and business services that include institutional partnerships, B2B and supplier enablement, community banking and merger and acquisition. Priore is responsible for driving the strategic vision of the company in addition to the operational leadership he provides to the C-Level and senior management team.

Priore has been dedicated to the bank card industry since 1992. He began his career as a territory manager with American Express/Travel Related Services, before moving to First Data Corp./Card Establishment Services as a district manager from 1993-1994, and then served as a Divisional Vice President for Card Service International from 1995-1999.

In 1999, Priore joined NOVA Information Systems (now known as Elavon), one of the largest processors in the U.S., to spend five years as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Indirect Sales. While at NOVA, he developed and supported the company's national ISO/MSP program and community bank program as well as the Association Marketing and Costco Merchant Services business units.

After five years with NOVA, Priore moved to Ingenico, an international developer of credit and debit card point of sale equipment, where he was the Executive Vice President of Financial Systems until 2005.

In the past, Priore served on the Ethics Committee for the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and currently serves on Priority's Board, is an active member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and is a legacy member of the Alpharetta Technology Commission.

Priore has a BA from the University of Rhode Island's School of Communications. He and his wife, Shiela, reside in Alpharetta, GA with their three children.

 

Richard J. Harris, Jr.

Chief Operating Officer

Richard Harris began his career in the merchant acquiring industry in 1991, serving in such roles as general management, product management, financial analysis and operations.

Prior to the founding of Priority Payment Systems, he was Chief Operating Officer for Cornerstone Payments Systems, a subsidiary of Verus Financial, now operating as Sage Payment Systems. He has served in lead roles within First Data Corporation including Unified Merchant Services and Wachovia Merchant Services. He started in the industry after he was selected in a nation-wide search for an executive internship by National Bancard (NaBANCO) in 1991. Mr. Harris is a native of Savannah, Georgia and a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

One of the founders of Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Harris oversees all aspects of the operations, including client services, fraud prevention, credit underwriting, account implementation, commissions, vendor relationships and settlement. Additionally, he manages merger and acquisition activity.

 

Sean M. Kiewiet

Chief Information Officer

Sean Kiewiet is a computer and technology scientist specializing in financial data systems design and corporate security. Since 1995, Mr. Kiewiet has been employed by top technology firms delivering products and services directly to the finance and banking markets.

He was Director of Technology for Cornerstone Payment Systems prior to the founding of Priority Payment Systems. During his career he has traveled extensively, deploying a variety of advanced technologies for banks and lending institutions across the U.S. and in Mexico, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. He is an expert on financial data security and "Common Body of Knowledge" security practices.

One of the founders of Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Kiewiet is responsible for all facets of Priority Payment System's technology development and corporate security, including the development of Priority MX, PCI certification and the management of all hardware and software needs.

 

Bruce E. Mattox

Chief Financial Officer

Bruce Mattox entered the merchant acquiring industry in 1996. Prior to joining Priority, he was a Senior Finance Manager for GE Capital's card issuing and retail finance business.

Mr. Mattox moved to GE from his position as Controller and Director for the First Data Merchant Services and Wachovia Bank Alliance. Prior to that, he was Vice President and Divisional Controller for Wachovia Bank of Georgia's card issuing program. During his career, Mr. Mattox has been responsible for controllership of commercial loan portfolios, regulatory reporting, treasury and bank funding operations, business mergers and acquisitions and new product initiatives.

Mr. Mattox is a licensed CPA in the state of Georgia, a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix and is certified in Six Sigma process management.

At Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Mattox is responsible for all financial aspects of the company and provides fiscal guidance as part of the executive management team.

 

David M. McMiller

President of Business Services

David McMiller began his career in retail management in 1980. Prior to joining Priority, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at USBank's NOVA Information Systems (now known as Elavon) operating unit. There he oversaw all project management and portfolio conversion activities related to company mergers. He was also responsible for NOVA's human resources, training and facilities departments. He joined NOVA in 1996 as Vice President of Human Resources and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 1998. He assumed responsibility for NOVA's program management office in 2001 and managed the integration of the USBank and NOVA operating businesses. He was named Executive Vice President in 2004.

At Priority Payment Systems, Mr. McMiller is responsible for strategic sales and services. This includes the recruitment and development of partners, building business solutions to meet their needs and managing the ongoing relationships.

 

Afshin Yazdian

President of Core Acquiring

Afshin Yazdian is currently the Executive Director of Priority Payment Systems. Previously, Mr. Yazdian served as the President and CEO of Cynergy Data prior to the merger between Cynergy and PPS in 2014. Prior to that, Mr. Yazdian was the President of TouchSuite, a Financial Technology Software and Payment Solutions company and currently also serves on the Board of Directors of Cleveland, Ohio based Sparkbase, a gift card and loyalty program software platform. From 2001 until 2011, Mr. Yazdian served as EVP and General Counsel at iPayment, Inc., a payment processing company. From the Company’s founding, Mr. Yazdian was a key member of management that elevated the Company from startup to a Top Ten independent payment processor in the United States. Mr. Yazdian’s responsibilities also included overseeing M&A activities, business development, vendor management and industry relations. Mr. Yazdian was previously EVP and General Counsel at eConception Venture Capital, with a focus on early stage investments in technology based businesses, and prior to that was an Associate with the Nashville based law firm of Waller Lansden. Mr. Yazdian received a BBA from Emory University, and a JD from the University of Miami School of Law. Mr. Yazdian also serves on the board of the Nashville Jewish Federation.

 

Anthony Bonventre

Chief Credit Officer

Anthony Bonventre is Chief Credit Officer of Priority Payment Systems, previously serving in the same positions for Pipeline Cynergy Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries from 2005 to 2014. Mr. Bonventre has over 20 years of Operational & Sales experience within the bankcard industry working for some of the largest service providers in the country, including Chemical Bank, First Data Corporation, Concord EFS & EVO Merchant Services. Mr. Bonventre holds a B.A. in Politics, Economics & Society from SUNY Old Westbury and is an active member of the MAC, IAFCI and ACAMS.

 

Duayne L. Haskett

Senior Vice President, Sales Channel Development

Duayne Haskett entered the merchant acquiring industry in 2001. Prior to the founding of Priority, he was the Director of Credit Underwriting for Verus Financial, now operating as Sage Payment Solutions. Mr. Haskett's responsibilities included underwriting and new account boarding for the combined Sage/Verus owned companies including Network 1, Cornerstone Payment Systems, Bankcard USA and Community Merchant Services. Mr. Haskett was instrumental in developing and managing their underwriting processes.

Prior to 2001, Mr. Haskett worked in card issuing and consumer banking at both Providian Bancorp and Wells Fargo Bank.

One of the founders of Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Haskett manages third party sales relationships at Priority Payment Systems and has focused his efforts on recruiting and developing high quality third party sales channels.

 

Tom Della Badia

Senior Vice President, Indirect Sales

Tom Della Badia started in the bankcard industry in 1995 as a merchant-level salesman, progressing to roles at Lynk Systems (now known as RBS WorldPay) as sales manager for the state of New Jersey, and then moving to Nova Information Systems (now known as Elavon) as Regional Vice President, ISO Sales, for the New York region. Della Badia then managed ISO sales for Long Island based IRN Payment Systems before joining Cynergy Data (now known as Priority Payment Systems) in 2008, where he served as Senior Vice President for Indirect Sales and also Marketing.

As Senior Vice President for Priority Payment Systems, Tom is responsible for the Indirect Sales channel, overseeing a national sales team in the recruitment of wholesale and retail ISO’s and Agents.

 

Robert E. Black

Senior Vice President, Financial Services

Robert (Bob) Black began his career in 1986 with PMT Services as a sales manager, developing and directing the internal and external sales division. He then moved to Digital Merchant Systems, later acquired by First Data, where he held senior management positions in Sales and Operations, managing Risk, Underwriting, Purchasing and Deployment. Mr. Black then served as Senior Vice President to one the largest processors in the credit card industry, Concord EFS, also later acquired by First Data.

In 2003, Mr. Black founded Payment Express Systems, a community bank focused ISO headquartered in Nashville, TN. Under his management, Payment Express grew to over 9,000 merchants and almost $2 billion in processing volume.

In June of 2012, Priority Payment Systems purchased the assets of Payment Express, utilizing Mr. Black and the 45-employee Payment Express team. Mr. Black now serves as Senior Vice President of Financial Services for the community bank division of Priority, still under the Payment Express name.

 

Sheila W. Hernandez

Senior Vice President, Merchant Operations

Sheila Hernandez has been in the bank card industry since 1985. Prior to the founding of Priority Payment Systems, she was Vice President of MSP Relationship Management for NOVA Information Systems (now known as Elavon). She began her tenure at NOVA in corporate training, coming to the company as a result of the acquisition of PMT Services in Nashville, Tennessee. Ms. Hernandez has also served as Vice President of Operations at TermNet Merchant Services and as a sales representative for SouthTrust Bank.

One of the founders of Priority Payment Systems, Ms. Hernandez is responsible for sales training, account implementation, special services and retention.

 

Thomas J. Liney

Senior Vice President, Client Development

Tom Liney began his career in the payment industry in 1985 with National Bancard (NaBANCO). Prior to joining Priority, he held an executive level position within RBS WorldPay (Lynk Systems) where he oversaw nine departments. Mr. Liney was responsible for all customer facing operations including customer boarding, customer and technical support, service quality and industry relations and has served on numerous association committees. Mr. Liney holds an MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

At Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Liney is responsible for providing exceptional development and support for our sales agents and merchant customers.

 

Paul Oswald

Vice President, Enterprise Solutions

Paul Oswald began his career in the bank card industry as a Client Executive with American Express. Prior to joining Priority Payment Systems, he served as the Vice President of Business Development for Cynergy Data, as well as Vice President Third Party Acquiring, where he managed the Client Executive Group and oversaw the Launch Pad Division. He also has held positions with Brown-Foreman Enterprises, First Data, Elavon (formerly known as NOVA Information Systems) and TransFirst.

At Priority Payment Systems, Mr. Oswald is responsible for developing the Priority Enterprise Solutions Team working on VAR integration, new product opportunities and ISO/Agent relationship support.