Podium adds text message payments

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Customer interaction platform Podium has added a Payments feature, allowing businesses to use text messaging to accept funds directly from customers.

Payments extends the two-way text messaging service from Podium to engage customers through text-based payment links. After customers choose their payment method and amount, the transaction is completed in minutes, eliminating what had previously been a series of phone calls or a multi-week turnaround with mailed invoices.

Lehi, Utah-based Podium provides an interaction management platform that it says facilitates millions of customer interactions for more than 43,000 businesses of all sizes across the U.S., Canada and Australia — from single location medical and home service providers to professional sports franchises and enterprise retailers with hundreds of locations.

"Podium is now our go-to for payments, not just for Webchat leads, but for any payment with a fan," Ty Wardle, vice president of ticket sales and services with pro basketball team, the Utah Jazz, said in a Monday press release. "We went from spending two to five minutes per phone call trying to collect payments for tickets to just sending a convenient text."

Podium has also found traditional “card-not-present” transactions typically handled over the phone or via mailed invoice having roughly a 2% completion rate. With the companies in Podium’s Payments beta, that completion rate tripled as well as provided 80% reduction in staff time resources, the press release stated.

The Payments feature also allows businesses to communicate directly with the customer for questions and answers through the same channel in which the payment is being sent.

"In the past five years since Podium launched, we have been at the forefront of solving the biggest interaction pain points local businesses face," Eric Rea, CEO of Podium, said in the release. "One of the largest things we have always heard from our customers was how difficult it was to conduct the $20 billion-plus worth of card-not-present transactions that they transact each year."

Podium Payments allows businesses to "modernize their payments by simply sending a text, solving everything from outstanding invoices such as medical bills or home services jobs to retailers wanting a more convenient way to close a sale through messaging," Rea added. "We are excited to roll this out and continue to improve every interaction that local businesses conduct."

Podium, founded in 2014, reported that by 2019 nearly one in four U.S. smartphone owners were using Podium's platform to connect with a local business. The company is backed by IVP, Accel, Summit Partners, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Y Combinator.

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