How a university ad launched a worldwide business

How a university ad launched a worldwide business

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by the ATM Industry Association

In the mid-nineties ATM operator North American Cash Systems realized that their cash situation was completely out of control.

Their ATMs were full, yet their armored carrier in Florida had some half a million dollars lying around idle at their facility. The company clearly needed a to get control of its vault cash — and fast.

Software seemed the obvious answer, but where to get programmers?

In a stroke of genius, Gary Faulkner and his business partner at NACS posted a sign in the computer center at the local university. It read: "Wanted: Smart People to Replace the Dumb Ones We Just Fired." 

The ad went on to describe NACS' vision for a Microsoft Access-based system to control ATM cash.

This plea for help was spotted by Alif Rahman, a down-on-his-luck computer science major. "I had a job delivering pizzas at the time, but my car had just broken down leaving me essentially unemployed," he said. "I was broke and needed to pay my rent so I jumped on this opportunity."

Rahman recruited his roommate, Mahmud Hossain, to partner with him on the project and contacted NACS.

"Alif and Mahmud knew how to program a system but they didn't know anything about Access, which is what we wanted," said Faulkner. "But they also said, 'Buy us the book and we will rock your world,' so we bought them the book."

The roommates read the Microsoft Access technical manual from cover-to-cover and produced an Access-based system just one week later.

NACS dubbed the system North American Cash Systems Total Reconciliation and Control, and created a sister company, North American Cash Services, that used Nacstrac to provide vault cash to several ATM ISOs.

After NACS was sold in November 1998, Gary went to work for Diebold. Meanwhile, Rahman finished his master's degree in computer science and Hossain completed his doctorate in computer science and engineering.

But the intrepid roomates were not finished with the Nacstrac program. They continued to mull over the ATM management program they had built for NACS and what they could do to make it better.

The simple answer was, "Do it in SQL and make it industrial strength."

In 1999, armed with their new cash management software program, the pair incorporated their business as Morphis and set up shop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

In 2000, they closed their first sale — to Diebold — competing against Icomm (now owned by Fiserv) and Transoft (now part of NCR) to win the business. Now a fully fledged company, Morphis continued to engage in research and improve its technology.

In 2001, the company received a commission from an armored carrier to create software capable of managing the complex logistics required for fulfillment — i.e., loading, balancing and reconciling — of the ATM cash loading process.

This was followed quickly by an opportunity to help a well-known central bank with an even more complex problem — managing coins. The system Morphis developed facilitated a complete process overhaul by the bank.

Soon, the Morphis team, which Faulkner officially joined in April 2004, realized they had software that not only enabled ATM management, but also allowed end-to-end management of the entire currency supply chain for both notes and coins.

As Morphis has grown, its software has evolved to better fit all aspects of the currency supply chain the company now supports. This software is delivered in customizable modules to allow companies to use only the systems and support they need, adding modules as their business grows.

The change in development has created a reliable, convenient and robust system that is not only affordable, but also fully capable of supporting any currency supply chain business — from an independent ATM operator to a global corporation.

"In the future," Rahman said, "we see Morphis as the engine that drives the interactions throughout the currency supply chain."

Topics: Software, Vault Cash / Cash Management

Companies: Morphis Inc.

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