Melbourne startup PromisePay is focusing on US expansion as it gears up for a capital raise

- December 1, 2015 2 MIN READ

Online marketplaces allow you to hire almost anything these days, from tradies to event planners and even pets. Yes, there’s an app that lets you borrow a dog for a day. But who are these tradies, planners, and dogs? How can you be guaranteed that the tradie is qualified, the planner is tasteful, and the dog doesn’t have rabies? Online marketplaces, whilst offering everything you can think of, do have some trust issues. When it comes to money you don’t want to be offloading to anyone and that’s where managed payment systems come in.

Melbourne startup PromisePay offers that seamless transaction experience by removing the need for people to pay cash. Cofounders Simon Lee, Darren McMurtrie, and Simon Jones have created trust on these online marketplaces through background checks to validate that people are who they say they are.

“It’s quite unique because you may trust the marketplace or the platform – for example you trust Uber, AirBnB, CarSales and Airtasker, but you may not really know who’s coming to do the work for you,” said CEO Simon Lee.

PromisePay raised USD$2 million in funding in June last year, led by Cultivation CapitalToday they have become a major player in payment solutions in Australia and aim to replicate that in the US.

PromisePay currently has 30 clients in Australia with another 36 in negotiation, and have signed enough for a total platform volume of $75 million per month. Lee believes that his company will hit around a billion dollars next year.

“We can now pretty much say that we own local services, we have all the major players in that space now, like Airtasker, Service Seeking, GeoOp and Fergus App,” said Lee.

PromisePay’s two key partnerships in New Zealand, GeoOp and Fergus, integrate job payments within an online platform that brings the Uber-style mobile payments to tradies. Consumers no longer have to chase down invoices, handle wads of cash or carry hardware. Everyone is paid online with no operational overheads or costs. If you’re buying on an online marketplace, the PromisePay team want you to pay on that marketplace, making it an overall frictionless experience.

The company aims to focus on local services within the Australian community and own those same verticals overseas. In America PromisePay are growing their Aussie business and have already beaten 90 companies who have tried to squeeze into the marketplace. With offices in St. Louis and San Francisco and customers like Flippa and Jobstream, the PromisePay team is going at 30 percent month on month growth.

“We’ve been able to build some new technology and our goal in the next 6-12 months is to execute those opportunities in Australia and to grow those opportunities in America,” said Lee.

Like any Aussie in America, there are challenges to fit in and sell. Selling products to Americans is no easy feat. To combat this issue, PromisePay hired a bunch of Americans to drive their company forward, which helped them to grow to 40 signs ups a month.

In April next year the team will kick off a Series A round, through which they are hoping to raise $10 million, which will allow them to explore more opportunities overseas.

“We’re going to have over a million invoices a month coming through our platform. Long term we will differentiate ourselves by trading and moving into different markets,” said Lee.

Image: Darren McMurtrie, Simon Lee and Simon Jones, Source: Supplied