Entertainment

Louis Xifaras: Payments Consultant by Day, Basketball Hero by Night

By Ilija Sekulovski

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A life-long native of Astoria, Louis Xifaras is one of the guys behind the scenes – he helps dozens of businesses in the neighborhood be successful. He also has a passion for changing lives – and we were excited to learn all about it.

 

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What exactly does your job entail?

 

Well, I’m a Payments Processing Consultant. That means I help businesses with their payment transactions – specifically credit/debit card processing. So many businesses are paying much higher fees on their merchant processing statements without even knowing it!!

 

What does that involve?

 

The industry most targeted is restaurants – because they’re the businesses that really benefit from offering their customers the option to pay with a credit/debit card. Businesses that are cash only aren’t succeeding – everyone has a credit/debit card, and everyone is getting paid these days via direct deposits. My job is to consult with businesses and overview their entire payment processing scope from credit/debit card processing, payroll processing, gift/loyalty services, POS Solutions, mobile payments and website e-commerce solutions.

 

How did you get started in this industry?

 

I started out of college in retail banking and noticed that alot of business clients would come in to ask questions about their banking activity in relation to their card processing transactions. It struck an interest with me because I realized it was such a huge obstacle for businesses to manage their daily payments transactions – so I took an opportunity and I ended up sticking around for ten years.

 

What’s one thing you think all business owners should know?

 

They can do more themselves! (laughs). But really, they don’t realize how reliant they are on third party apps – companies like Seamless or Grubhub for example. They charge huge overheads – sometimes 12-20% – and restaurants could just as well have their own website and do their own online ordering.

I think it’s really important for businesses to engage with their customers more. With a third party app like that, there’s no interaction left.

 

You’re also really passionate about basketball, can you tell us about that?

 

Yes! I’ve been involved in the basketball community for many years. I started off coaching at a very young age – when I was still in high school myself. I traveled all over the country coaching teams. Now, I’m a basketball consultant for professional players, and also help high school players reach the collegiate ranks.

 

Can you tell us more about how you help children?

 

I help kids who progress from grammar school to high school to college, and then to the professional ranks. The thing you have to understand is that not every great basketball player will make it to the NBA – but there’s so many opportunities elsewhere. I connect these kids to international agents – and they get signed to teams oversees.

 

Is there a competitive basketball scene overseas?

 

Absolutely! Places like Asia and Europe are wild about basketball. Basketball is a global sport, it’s not just America!

 

You’re also a board member of the DomHeart21 Foundation, can you tell us about that?

 

I was lucky enough to know and coach Dominic for many years. He was one of my players – he went to the high school I used to coach at. He was an amazing player, and a great person, and it really changed my life when he passed away. His mother started the Dominic A. Murray 21 Memorial Foundation in his memory to create CPR/AED awareness and the prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), which Dominic died from on the basketball court in college.

 

What other charities do you work with?

 

I’m on the board for the HHS Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic. We send over books and baseball supplies, and do so much more down in the country, including building schools and hospitals.

 

What makes you want to be so involved with helping children and teens?

 

I love making a difference. I turned down offers of being a college coach to pursue my business career, but it was something that I never wanted to give up. If I have the chance to make even the smallest different in someone’s life, I’ll take that chance. I want to give back as much as I can.

 

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