Managing Partner

Managing Partner

      Robert R Hills serves as the Managing Partner for AmerAssist Gulf Coast.  He possesses an extensive professional career which has been predominantly focused to areas including capital strategies, finance, and the electronic payment processing sectors. Following his graduation from Denison University, Robert R Hills became an active participant in investment securities and shortly thereafter a principal to a corporation specializing in capitalizing oil and natural gas development. He developed several unique investment structures to maximize investment deductibility while minimizing risk exposure.

Later, Mr. Hills formed Shepherd Consultants principally oriented to conceptual design and early-phase development for various incubator undertakings. Mr. Hills ultimately accepted a principal's position in one of these managed concepts, the Rustic America Club. He guided its early-phase development, implementing a membership strategy for capitalizing the purchase and limited development of properties under a shared-use concept that would result in the deed-restricted conservation of wilderness and wildlife habitats under private-shared access for the exclusive use and enjoyment of its members.

Mr. Hills' brief tenure with the Rustic Americana Club brought him to Florida where, following the completion of his efforts, he became associated with Citicorp Card Acceptance in the late 1990's as bankcard automated ("Credit Card") processing was superseding local bank reliance upon administering paper-draft credit card receipts and presentment procedures. The technologically advanced EDC ("Electronic Draft Capture") swiftly overtook its paper-based predecessor, draft processing.

Drawing upon his unique expertise for conceptual design and product development, Mr. Hills resigned his position with CitiCorp pursuing what would become a revolutionary new undertaking. In an era where credit cards were still in the throws of conversion to automated EDC procedures and where bank-issued ATM ("Automated Teller Machine") cards were limited to "online" access for use, thereby having nominal application other than for cash withdrawals at a bank's "Money Machine", Mr. Hills initiated extensive research and testing to develop a new system capable, for the first time, of performing essentially an identical automated conversion process for commercial bank drafts (physical or "paper" checks) that had been ongoing for credit cards.

Mr. Hills' unique invention would convert paper checks presented for payment at the POS ("point-of-sale") into an automated, bankcard-like environment facilitating consumer purchases. POS equipment interfaced telephonically to a remote, centralized HOST System enabled the electronic reading of MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) information from a consumer-checkwriter's "specimen" check, transmitting relevant bank, consumer, and payment request information in packet form to the HOST for a response. Upon issuing an "Approved" notice to the POS, a consumer-checkwriter's purchase details would thereupon be "captured" electronically and "settled" via submission as an ACH ("Automated Clearing House") debit of the consumer's preauthorized account with subsequent credit to the HOST-recognized depository account for an affected merchant. The consumer would execute a POS receipt much in the manner of an automated credit card receipt. The underlying proceeds for a consumer's "Electronic Checking" purchase were settled in a fully automated and electronic manner, absent further reliance upon or use of the consumer's physical check to be issued, deposited, or presented for payment.

By design, the HOST system created a permanent database record for each consumer and all consumer initiated purchase inquiries, including the capture of the consumer's source payment account data.  Consumer-executed POS media ("sales receipts"), once received by the HOST, provided additional information pertinent to the consumer-checkwriter whereupon, at the discretion of the HOST administrator, an encoded "Check Card" (a magnetically encoded card identifying to the HOST a specific consumer and, thereby, an associated source payment account) could be issued to the "known" checkwriter. Thereafter, there would be no further reliance upon a specimen check to initiate subsequent Electronic Checking transactions. It is noteworthy to mention that this later aspect caught the attention of VISA at the AMP II Medical Convention in San Francisco ultimately resulting in their swift transition from an "online" ATM card to "off-line" processing (ACH settlement) via their newly created VISA "Check Card".

The process developed by Robert Hills and reviewed above was awarded a series of patents. As the inventor and co-patent holder, Mr. Hills was first issued U.S. Patent No. 5,484,988 ("988 Patent"), a "Checkwriting Point-of-Sales System", published January 16, 1996. In succession, this unique system and process was further refined and expanded by Patent Numbers 6,164,528, published December 26, 2000; No. 6,283,366 , published September 4, 2001; No. 6,354,491, published January 16, 2002; No. 6,527,129 ("129 Patent"), published April 15, 2003; and No. RE40220, published April 8, 2008, which was a re-issue of  the "129 Patent".

To commercialize the 988 Patent in practice, Robert Hills founded ChequeMARK Systems, Inc. in 1992, and ChequeMARK Technologies Corporation in 1994. Prior to selling his interest in these businesses and his patents between 1998-2000, Mr. Hills personally designed and overviewed all development for the central HOST System, the Terminal Functionality requirements, and Help Desk interface. Moreover, Mr. Hills served as the Chief Executive Officer for the ChequeMARK companies until his disposition of ownership and resignation. Mr. Hills invention of "Electronic Checking" served as the foundation from which modern evolutions in Check Truncation, Electronic Check Representment, Image Processing, and other manners for the electronic submission and settlement for checks is now collectively referred to under the evolved classification and regulatory guidelines as "Check21" processing.

During his tenure with the ChequeMARK companies and associated patents, Robert Hills was exposed to and developed a new array of professional experiences that have subsequently bolstered his current credentials. Preceding publication of the "988 Patent", Mr. Hills created a strategic alliance and development agreement with Deluxe Corporation (NYSE-"DLX") through its subsidiary Electronic Transaction Corporations, sponsor of "SCAN", (the "Shared Check Authorization Network"). The SCAN derogatory ("negative" database housing outstanding returned check information) checkwriter database was contributed to by a majority of major merchants across the country, including WalMart, K-Mart, JC Penny's, Toys-R-Us, to name a few. By contractual agreement, a current version of the SCAN database was maintained on the ChequeMARK HOST to measure the impact of access to these records in consort with other proprietary routines and security/risk/fraud procedures unique to "The ChequeMARK  System".

A contractual "veil of secrecy" persisted under the terms of the Deluxe alliance but ended abruptly with the patent's publication in January of 1996. Shortly thereafter, Patricia Murphy, writing for Bank Technology News, announced to the banking community the existence of the "988 Patent" and the ChequeMARK HOST System. Following this article, Robert Hills became an invited guest speaker before the ECC ("Electronic Check Counsel") at its quarterly meeting held that year in Dallas, Texas. The ECC had been organized by NACHA (the "National Automated Clearing House Association") to explore the means under which Electronic Checking might evolve. As a result of the "988 Patent's" heightened exposure, other industry-specific articles, including a series written by "The Greensheet", brought considerable attention to the "ChequeMARK System" and the "988 Patent". In consort with this heightened attention to the "988 Patent", Mr. Hills received frequent requests for affiliations under the patented process and to conduct product acclimation/indoctrination seminars. SCAN contributors for whom Mr. Hills conducted such seminars included major merchants, the likes of WalMart, K-Mart, and JC Penny's among others. In the two years following publication of the "988 Patent", Robert Hills established the framework for numerous industry affiliations within the payment processing industry. These strategic alliances were assigned to his successor in ownership consecutively with his divestiture of his the patents and ChequeMARK companies.

Following the sale of the ChequeMARK companies and his patents, Robert Hills retired for a period of years in the Florida Keys. Retirement proved to be an unsuccessful distraction for Mr. Hills. He soon began exploring new possibilities and directions. In recent years, he has renewed his focus towards financial platforms, payment systems, and general developmental consulting services. Portions of his productive energies have been directed to corporate and consumer finance strategies and solutions. Currently, Robert Hills holds several positions but has predominantly targeted areas of capital management and related initiatives. He has "returned to his roots", specializing in various conceptual development activities and is actively participating in such diverse fields as business/commercial financing, consumer installment offerings, and accounts receivable services.

On July 22, 2014, Mr. Hills became listed as the "Inventor" for US Patent Number 8.788,352 B2, entitled "A System and Method for Presenting a Financing Instrument at a Point of Sale".  He is currently involved with this patent and actively contributing to its commercialization.  If successfully pursued, application of the technologies associated with this patent could significantly alter the manner under which financed consumer purchases will in the not too distant future be transacted from the point-of-sale.

To review the issued patent, Click Here.

Robert R Hills

Managing Partner
AmerAssist Gulf Coast