DebitSuccess targets $1b turnover

ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2013
debit
Phil Doyle/Fairfax NZ

GROWING: DebitSuccess chief executive Craig Marshall. 

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DebitSuccess could be the most successful Kiwi company you've never heard of.

In a 2011 story on the company, it boasted turnover of $650 million. Now chief executive Craig Marshall is talking about turnover of $1 billion.

DebitSuccess's share of that is small - it is effectively clipping the ticket on payments made to its customers - but you can't deny the growth trend.

Founded in 1994 and based in Auckland, DebitSuccess is owned by Direct Capital Private Equity and companies associated with Murray Bolton, who made the news last month by investing in the Auckland Blues rugby franchise.

While DebitSuccess started offering services to the health and fitness sector, its services and payments platform now allows all sorts of organisations to shift from charging yearly fees for subscriptions, or lump sums for goods and services, which many struggle to afford, to allowing time payments.

That makes it easier for customers to buy goods and services, or to renew subscriptions such as gym or club memberships.

DebitSuccess also provides credit control services over those payments.

Marshall, who took on the CEO role a year ago, after serving on the company's board since 2007, describes the company's growth as "meteoric". In percentage terms, he said that amounts to 14 per cent to 16 per cent growth annually.

The company's 80-seat contact centre is being expanded to house 153.

Previously the CEO of Labtests and currently chairman of Corporate Cabs, Marshall said DebitSuccess initiates 20 million transactions a year and services about 3000 businesses, with 900,000 customers.

Outside of the gym and club markets, DebitSuccess is now serving companies such as optometrists OPSM, which provides eyecare on a subscription plan called Vision Plan. The company is also serving home heating company HRV, childcare providers, ticketing agencies, and is looking at the insurance industry.

The platform also has an interface for parking payments, while charities are also finding the service a boon for fundraising.

Ninety per cent of DebitSuccess's sales now come from offshore, mostly Australia. But further expansion has been planned in the Asia Pacific region.

"It's not easy getting established in those markets. We generally get in on the coat-tails of current clients," said Marshall.

To speed that process, DebitSuccess is getting aggressive. Marshall said acquisitions are being looked at.

However, the platform behind DebitSuccess's business is web-based and therefore highly scalable, he said.

In the meantime, DebitSuccess is adding to the value it delivers to clients. On top of managing subscriptions and credit control, it is also fully compliant with the new Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), introduced to combat card fraud and identity theft.

Marshall said that allows customers to effectively "back-end" into certification and offload the regulatory responsibility and cost.

"It's very expensive to get it and maintain it," he said.

DebitSuccess employs a lawyer fulltime to oversee compliance.

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Marshall said what has been called the "subscription economy" is based on customer preferences for easier and more convenient payments, and to reduce pressure on the consumer dollar. "You don't need to make a yearly decision," he said.

Despite all of that, Marshall said the biggest challenge for DebitSuccess is still explaining the company's point of difference to clients. sometimes it is a struggle to get in front of large potential customers.

"Large utilities . . . we could help them if they went to the model we offer," he said. "Other than that, the opportunities are limitless. It's rare not to be able to break down payments into smaller amounts."

- Sunday Star Times

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