GoCardless Simplifies Online Payments with PayLinks
Based on the conversation being had at GoCardless, you’d think the payments industry was completely broken. “For many merchants, setting up online payments is a hassle,” their website says. “We believe that it is too hard and too expensive to take money online, and it is our goal to fix that.”
Their solution is called PayLinks. Merchants who go to gocardless.com can create clickable links that prompt consumers for debit payments. Those consumers then load in their bank account information to fund the transaction, and the merchant is charged a 1% fee that’s capped at £2.
In February the company raised $1.5 million in a venture round led by Accel Partners.
Co-founder Matt Robinson spoke to us for a Q&A on how the business came to be, why he feels the company is uniquely competitive, and what growth he hopes to see over the balance of 2012.
PYMNTS.com: Let's start at the beginning. How did GoCardless come to be?
Matt Robinson, GoCardless Co-Founder: We had all experienced problems trying to collect money for groups or events that we were running, and couldn't work out why there were no simple payment solutions for that particular problem. As we dug deeper into what we should be using we realised that there really wasn't anything to solve that problem or to help you collect money full-stop. It's way too complicated, way too expensive and generally a really painful experience.
PY: As I understand it you have two products, and the latest bit of news out of your firm revolves around a feature called PayLinks. Tell us about PayLinks' evolution, what it does, and how you're hoping to grow its use.
MR: We built an API wrapper for bank transfer that gives Merchant access to super simple, super cheap online payments. The problem was that only developers could use it as they had to integrate with our API. We had loads and loads of non-technical businesses signing up who were desperate to use our product but just couldn't. As a result we built a simple web interface for the API which lets anyone start collecting money in 60 seconds, that's PayLinks.
PY: You've called the process of accepting payments online a "painful" one on your site. What's so painful about the way things are now?
MR: As a Merchant you can either use cash, cheque, online banking or card payments. The first two only really work for in-person transactions. Online banking is not built for anything more than billing a handful of customers. Card payments require you getting a Merchant bank account, a card processor, etc., which each have long, complicated sign-up processes. I know of businesses where the only thing that's stopping them from operating is that they have no way of taking payments from their customers, that's a crazy situation to be in.
PY: Do you think PayLinks is such a vastly superior solution that consumers will flock to it, or do you have some growth strategies in mind as well to take share from Google Checkout and PayPal?
MR: The best thing about PayLinks is that anyone can use it - whether it's for B2B, B2C or P2P - and they can start collecting money in seconds. In some situations they're flocking to it already, in others we'll need to work hard to get the word out and we've got some great strategies in mind for that.
PY: I find it interesting that you accept bank account numbers instead of credit card numbers. I can see the benefit to your business, but do consumers take any issue with paying with a bank account instead of, say, a credit card?
It's a great question and one of the fundamental proof points of the business will be if we can get people to pay with their bank details. So far conversion rates we've seen have been at least on par with those you would expect for card payments. As a result of online banking most people already know their bank details, and have historically been comfortable sharing them with friends and payment companies. We've had a lot of uptake in B2B where this has actually been seen as an advantage.
PY: You cite 2,000 signups as your existing customer base. What's the growth target for the end of 2012?
MR: So far we've grown 50%+ every month since launch. If we can sustain growth anywhere near that level that would be absolutely phenomenal.
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