Marketing company Firespring wanted to offer its nonprofit customers a handy way to process payments.
Student loan and finance company Nelnet wanted its internal divisions to transfer payments conveniently.
Now the companies, both with operations in Lincoln and Omaha, are combining their payments operations and widening the scope to include all businesses with payment management needs and software developers in the payments industry.
Tuesday, Nelnet Inc. announced that it acquired Firespring’s payment system, called PaymentSpring, for an undisclosed amount of money. The combined business, under the PaymentSpring brand, is launching a new combined website.
“We can really work with any type of business that has a need for payments,” said Cory Mann, senior vice president for PaymentSpring. “Our goal is to make it a national leader in the payment space.”
With the acquisition, one employee came to Nelnet from Firespring. Seven people have been added since the purchase, Mann said. Others who worked on the PaymentSpring project were retained by Firespring.
In all, the combined operation has 60 people, about 15 in Lincoln and 45 at a Nelnet office at 120th Street and West Center Road in Omaha.
Firespring CEO Jay Wilkinson said the objective in 2014 was to create the first payment technology that would work through mobile devices, personal computers, point-of-sale computers and any other method.
“We wanted to radically change the broken payment industry,” he said, which “ripped off” clients by requiring different software for different payment methods.
PaymentSpring’s system handles all such methods, Wilkinson said, and Nelnet, through its decade-old Nelnet Transaction Solutions division, has the financial resources and the broad client base to expand PaymentSpring’s reach nationally and internationally.
Besides having a website that lets businesses sign up for payment services, PaymentSpring offers consulting services for businesses on how to incorporate payments into their growth strategies, Mann said, while continuing its work with nonprofit organizations.
PaymentSpring and Nelnet Transaction Solutions have been integrating over the past few months, leading up to the launch of the new website and announcement of the acquisition, Mann said.
PaymentSpring President Mike Phelan said in a press release that Nelnet and Firespring have similar values, making the acquisition “a perfect fit. Both companies have a passion for serving nonprofit organizations and for supporting the startup ecosystem.”
Correction: A headline on a previous version of this story incorrectly listed where Nelnet Transaction Solutions is based.