The major banks have already committed to e-payment systems like clearXchange and Fiserv's Popmoney, but that doesn’t matter to PaidThx — its system does not rely on bank participation, and will eventually be marketed to the underbanked.
The Richmond, Va.-based company's founders developed PaidThx to solve the problem of how to donate to charity without a checking account, says CEO Thomas Eide. PaidThx, which plans to launch its service next month, charges fees only if a user wants to expedite the transfer or receipt of funds, and those fees vary depending on the risk of each user and transaction.
“It’s like a trust score, and based on your activity within our network, based on building trust, based on how much we know about you, that fee will vary,” says COO Rob Kirchner. There will be a framework for adding bank partners in 2013, he says.
The fee could be 1% to 2% of the transaction, or even free if the user's risk score is low enough, Kirchner says. Fees for expediting payments are based on the user’s history of responsible behavior and how much information the user provides PaidThx. Irresponsible behavior includes non-sufficient funds activity or chargebacks, Kirchner says.
PaidThx's free mobile application is available for all mobile operating systems. There is no loading service. Transfers move from the sender’s bank account to the receiver’s. Eide says the service will be available for the unbanked in 2013 using a linked debit card.
PaidThx uses Jack Henry & Associates for analysis of transaction movements, says Eide. PaidThx does not resell the information its users provide. It collects their info only to have “a closer connection to our customer," Eide says.
“This is an electronic customer; it’s hard to put a name and a face behind a set of digits,” Eide says. “We’re trying to know our customer very, very well. We want to know how responsible they’ll behave on our network and we want to know who they’re engaged with. If I make a payment to my son or daughter on a regular basis, that’s a very low risk transaction.”
Until launch, those interested in PaidThx can go to the PaidThx website and request an invitation by sending their e-mail address. Once they download the application they can sign in using Facebook or e-mail and enable their smartphone by sending a text message to PaidThx. Users can send money to Facebook friends by choosing them through the application, or simply using their phone's contacts.
Kirchner says PaidThx is in discussions with charities to include them in the application, so users could click on their logo to donate. He says charities can also use PaidThx as a tool for soliciting donations. Currently, PaidThx is partnering with a local youth services charity and a church in North Carolina, along with several community organizations and sports leagues to help them collect member dues.
Other alternative payment systems work with charities. Shopkick, a mobile rewards provider, began as Causeworld, an app focused on redeeming reward points as charitable donations. More recently, SCVNGR's LevelUp added a charitable-donation option to promote its system through charities.