Shared living isn’t easy, as evidenced by the numerous housemate horror stories posted on forums online. Apart from ‘the tragedy of the commons’ where people only complete chores that are in their direct interests – cleaning their own room, but not the kitchen or the bathroom – the dividing of rent and bills is one of the biggest sources of household tension. A newly-launched digital payment platform Easyshare wants to be the solution to this problem.
Whereas traditionally, co-habitants would have to physically (or even digitally) collect everybody’s portion of rent and bills, Easyshare Sharehouse automates the entire process. Each user sets up their own payment method (whether that’s credit card or direct debit); and based on the pre-determined ‘split’, each user’s portion of rent and expenses is debited from them, put into an Easyshare account and then pushed out to end biller/agent’s trust account on the due date.
The FinTech startup, which has been two years in the making, was co-founded by ex-Ferrier Hodgson accountant and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, John Bush, and ex-NASDAQ trading systems, CTO Rob Fowler. But the idea for creating Easyshare spawned from Bush’s own struggles with collecting his flatmates’ portion of rent and bills.
“It would be very rare that there is no friction between flatmates over unpaid or late rental payments and the sharing of bills when they co-habit,” Bush said. “Easyshare makes payment of shared rent and bills automatically, removing all of the angst.”
In Australia, there are more than 1.3 million properties being rented out by 4.1 million Australians; and having to chase occupants for rent is one of the most common complaints amongst real estate agents. With Easyshare, it’s almost guaranteed that payments will come through on time. This is helped by the fact that Easyshare has established a merchant facility with the National Australian Bank, which it uses to process its financial transactions.
It’s worth noting that many real estate agents, landlords and suppliers already have automated payment systems in place to mitigate the risk of late payments. However, this only applies to renters who live alone or with their families and don’t split any costs.
In addition to systemising the division of bills, Easyshare Sharehouse offers housemates a platform to communicate with one another as well as with property managers – whether it’s a general inquiry or a repair request. Those who are subscribed to Easyshare Sharehouse can also take advantage of exclusive discounted rates with household service providers (e.g. internet provider, utilities provider) that the startup has negotiated.
The Easyshare Sharehouse option operates on a subscription model. The cost is $4.95 per household per month to use the platform. This can be split amongst all housemates according to the percentage agreed upon. If a user lives with three housemates and chooses to split the cost equally, then it would be $1.65 per housemate per household per month. Housemates who select credit card as a payment method will incur an additional 1.5 percent on payments paid via Visa or Mastercard and 3.3 percent on transactions paid via AMEX.
Although Easyshare’s multi-faceted solution to shared living is most valuable to shared households, it also offers two other options for single occupant residential and commercial tenants. Easyshare Residential is more suited to families and single occupant households where the full rental payment or bill is paid by one person. That person can do so via credit card and earn reward points. Whereas Easyshare Commercial is for the payment of commercial premises including retail shops, offices and industrial units. This option is targeted at small business owners, as the interest free day offering of card issuers as well as reward points are intended to help stabilise small business cash flow.
Easyshare Residential and Easyshare Commercial users will have to pay the same additional credit card costs as mentioned above, however are not required to pay a monthly subscription fee.