Making money out of how you pay money

ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2011
ticket
SIMON BAKER
Just the ticket: Matthew Davey, CEO of TicketDirect, says it uses Debitsuccess for time payment options for rugby season tickets.

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It's based  in Auckland, locally owned, has turnover of more than $650 million – and most people have never heard of it.

The company is called Debitsuccess, founded in 1994.

Sure, most of that turnover goes straight back out again, but Debitsuccess has carved out a large and profitable niche. The company calls itself "Australasia's largest full-service payment processing company" and it employs 140.

Debitsuccess's services are in demand, allowing all sorts of organisations to shift from charging yearly fees, which many struggle to afford in one lump sum, to allowing time payments – and in providing credit control over those payments.

In short, it aims to make clients "recession resilient".

Debitsuccess started in the health and fitness sector, offering its gym and fitness customers the ability to shift from up front membership fees to more affordable monthly payments, which it remitted to gym clients weekly.

As its service grew more sophisticated, and its customer base more varied, the company went to Australia in 2002 and found success there as well.

With its Clubware software – and its Online Membership Gateway (OMG) – it now turns over 20 million transactions on behalf of 600,000 Australians and 2000 clients in sectors as diverse as charities, health, schools, the NRL and AFL in sports, childcare and more.

"It's anybody that wants to offer customers payment over time," said CEO Allan Dickinson.

That includes gym provider Don Oliver, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Golf NZ, American Income Life Insurance, YMCA and 500 other fitness clubs across Australasia.

Golf clubs are among the latest to switch on to Debitsuccess's offering, said Dickinson.

Each year they send out their renewal notices, take a deep breath and wait to see how many members will renew. Currently that could well be fewer renewals than before. Debitsuccess helps make such club memberships more affordable, and smooths cashflows for clubs by "taking out the peaks and troughs", Dickinson said.

Now the company has found a new field and a new partnership, with TicketDirect, in providing similar services to season ticket-holders.

Matthew Davey, CEO of TicketDirect, says the system has already led to a 50% increase in season ticket sales.

"There has been an urgent need to make season tickets more affordable.

"It is hugely beneficial for rugby clubs if they can sell season passes, and this new payment mechanism provides the obvious solution to encouraging purchase," says Davey.

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The service is being used by the Otago, Waikato, Canterbury and Hawke's Bay rugby unions. It lets members set up and pay for their season passes in small instalments over weekly, fortnightly or monthly intervals over a year, with payments from as little as $5 at a time.

The service has also been adopted by a large number of clubs in Australia's National Rugby League.

Debitsuccess's IT manager Steven Holmes describes Debitsuccess as an IT company. However, it uses customer relationship management software from another New Zealand-founded company, Stayinfront, to apply clients' policies to its credit control activities.

"Once a client is signed up, we take over the financial relationship for the client," Holmes said.

He said Debitsuccess has stayed below the radar because it never felt the need to seek publicity (CEO Dickinson declined to be photographed). It once contemplated entering the Deloitte Fast 500 competition for high-growth companies. If it had, he says, it would have finished in the top three in New Zealand and the top 45 overall.

Similarly, Debitsuccess does not feature in the annual TIN 100 research list of high technology companies, published by the Technology Investment Network. Given its somewhat different business model, it is difficult to know where it would rank, but on raw revenue it would make the top three.

And growth remains strong, said Holmes, at around 20% a year on the top and bottom line.

Two private equity companies feature on Debitsuccess's register alongside Dickinson family interests, Direct Capital and Bolton Equities, which own the bulk of the company. Both are New Zealand-based.

Dickinson said that investment went back to the early days of the company. The private equity share has changed hands several times, he said.

- Sunday Star Times

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