From Check to Tech
When Atlanta executive Barry McCarthy left First Data late last year to take on the role of CEO at Deluxe Corp., many in the Atlanta Fintech community admired his willingness to take on the transformation of the publicly traded check printing company. But few realized that the company had already been on the road to tech for some time.
“A material amount of our revenue today is from fintech,” says Kevin McInturff, Vice President of Product Development at Deluxe, “and we’ve been working at it for a while.” Under Kevin’s leadership for the past six years, tremendous progress has already been made by the $1.9 billion revenue company. “Deluxe has been around since 1915. No company lasts that long without adapting to change. Deluxe has a long history of innovation in the check industry,” he said. With Deluxe since 2013, Kevin has built the engineering organization from two engineers to a team comprised of hundreds of software, quality, user experience, and development operations engineers and scrum masters in multiple locations.
Kevin McInturff was born in Johnson City, Tennessee and grew up just outside of Nashville. He came to Atlanta in 1987 to attend Georgia Tech where he worked his way through college on a co-op program with IBM. “Tech was extremely challenging but it prepared me very well,” he says. After graduation, Kevin worked for Atlanta-based industrial controls company Factory Automation Systems, where his work focused on plant information and quality control systems for the automotive industry.
Joining Global Payments in 1998, Kevin worked first in cash management systems and then in payments. “My first major leadership opportunity was in modernizing merchant onboarding,” he says. “Our team took a manual process and transformed it to an online and largely automated one.” Acquisition time was reduced from 30 days to 2. “The Merchant Enrollment project taught me that the best solutions are discovered through collaboration with your customers. It also provided me the opportunity to build relationships across the company on an accelerated timeline.” Global Payments also sent him to Georgia Tech to get a Masters of Management of Technology, which is now an MBA program at the school.
In 2006, Kevin joined PrimeRevenue, an Atlanta-based provider of Supply Chain Finance solutions. “This was my first real opportunity to be a part of what was still at the time a start-up story. They had a great product and concept that they were gaining traction with on a global scale. I’m grateful for what I learned there about how to learn from and adapt to a market, as well as how to build greater efficiency into an engineering practice. These lessons proved invaluable later in my career.” Prime Revenue received $80 million in funding in 2015 and continues to refine its business model.
In 2013, Kevin was brought in as the first employee after the two co-founders of BitPay. “The world of alternative payments is fascinating,” he said of his time with the cryptocurrency payment provider, “and few understand that business better than Tony and Stephen. It was an incredible learning opportunity. During his time there, Kevin managed the partner program, built out a product roadmap and helped to establish the KYC program.
Kevin soon found himself being recruited by Deluxe Corp. “They said, ‘Just come up to Minnesota to meet with us,’” he says, “so I took a chance and made the trip.” What he found was not what he expected. He found a company where 35- to 40-year tenure or three generations of one family working together at the same company was not uncommon. The opportunity he was offered was to help transform the business.
“I took the offer very seriously,” he says. “I was incredibly impressed with the caliber of leaders I would soon find myself working with. I was also being presented with the chance to be a part of something that looked like an HBR study in the making. My job would be to help transform the financial services business unit into a technology company, including designing and building out the engineering team that would be part of the new chapter,” he says. “and I was reporting to the President of Financial Services.” He accepted the offer and started right away.
Kevin started with just two employees on one project and an outside vendor that was working on a second. “My first job was to assess the situation and build a blueprint for the talent and infrastructure we would need to become a fintech company. The next was to find some allies within Deluxe to help fulfill that vision.”
He built key relationships quickly. “Mike Mathews, our CIO, was an immediate ally,” he says, “who helped remove obstacles and provide support and infrastructure I needed early on.”
He started recruiting staff right away. “We needed to eliminate our dependency on external resources and instead scale our internal delivery.”
He found the entire company to be extremely supportive of what he was trying to achieve. “I was able to set up shop and operate almost like a startup inside of a larger company. If you are building a product development shop, Atlanta is a great place to get seasoned fintech talent,” he says.
A product that Kevin and his team has been working on is data driven marketing solutions for financial institutions and small businesses that allow for much higher rates of customer engagement and profitability. “Data driven, omni channel marketing has been a big winner for us,” Kevin says. “These tools also allow for better retention, cross selling of additional products, and the acquisition of new customers.”
Kevin still has a great feeling of support about all that he is doing at Deluxe. “The board continues to be very supportive of all that we do.” Kevin says, “They held the August 2018 board meeting here in Atlanta and, of course, by hiring Barry McCarthy as CEO, they are signaling an even stronger commitment to innovation.”
Speaking of Barry McCarthy, the new CEO has been spending time in the Atlanta office. “Barry has already spent quality time with us, taking questions and personally speaking to each and every person on site,” he says. “His obvious experience with and enthusiasm for innovation was exciting for the team.”
It also makes Kevin even more excited about the future. “Bringing together the momentum we’ve been building with Barry’s leadership and experience are a potent combination. It’s a new day for Deluxe.”