September 9, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
A Leader in On-Demand Payment Processing, BillingTree Simplifies the Process of Billing and Receivables and Revolutionizes the Payments Landscape through Innovative Technology, Providing Customers with a Competitive Advantage
BillingTree is a leader in on-demand payment processing, providing customers with competitive advantage through a simplification of the billing and receivables process in what is fast becoming an increasingly regulated environment The company has revolutionized the payments landscape by delivering the most innovative technology while making it as easy and inexpensive as possible to accept payments whether via a smartphone, using an online payment portal, pre-funded accounts – including credit, debit, ACH, check and cash payments.
BillingTree’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) model delivers
industry-leading payment solutions, proven integration, and point-and-click
simplicity. Its focus on innovation has allowed it to help more than 1,200
customers eliminate manual processes and automate their payment cycles.
BillingTree – Your Growth is our Business.
His particular brief is to guide the company through its next major expansion phase after a number of years of spectacular growth that had allowed it to emerge as a field leader. He oversees the strategic direction of BillingTree, is active in the day-to-day operations of the company and provides oversight on key initiatives.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – September 9, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Roberts, would you tell us the concept at BillingTree?
Mr. Roberts: We are a merchant services provider. We serve businesses of all sizes with many of them being small to mid-sized to take payments—whether the payment is through a credit card, cash or check. We enable technology that allows them to find any way that they need to take a payment.
CEOCFO: What sets BillingTree apart?
Mr. Roberts: Historically, we have focused on specific niche markets. Our core market is in the debt collection industry where we have had a tremendous amount of success and achieved around 20% market share over the last ten years within debt collectors, collection agencies or accounts receivable management. They have found that we provide much more than just payment processing. It is a crowded space and it can effectively be called a commodity, but we try to add on top of that – one is service and the second is subject matter expertise.
The payment space is heavy with regulation right now, whether that is from the government, Visa or banks. There are many nuances to making sure that you are complying with all the standards. It can be quite burdensome to a company of any size to comply. We provide a lot of thought leadership, we do our own market research, we publish, we do webinars, we try to train and equip these small businesses so that they can navigate all these unique areas.
CEOCFO: Was your involvement in debt collection opportunistic?
Mr. Roberts: We would love to say that it was strategic, but it was just where the original founders of the company started. There was some experience from one of the founders and, “If we didn’t know, we’d still be here,” is one of their famous quotes. They did not know that they were cracking in to an incredible market by doing what they did. It was very opportunistic.
CEOCFO: Would you explain some of the value you are able to provide in this area and in general?
Mr. Roberts: All collection agencies use a system of record to manage information when they get a debtor on the phone. There are technology platforms that they leverage. One of the strategic and thoughtful things they did at BillingTree in the beginning was to integrate into those platforms so that when an agent gets someone on the phone, instead of having to go to a different screen or application to take a payment, they could do it right then and there. Now, we have equipped them with online capabilities.
We have also gone out to look at the best and brightest on behalf of our clients in all of the technologies related to payments within the space. We have integrated our platforms with them. We have gone through the diligence and tried to simplify the onslaught of different channels. We try to be proactive on their behalf to deliver something that is already integrated into our core system.
CEOCFO: What is the key to keeping up-to-date with all of the new technologies?
Mr. Roberts: That is a great challenge. It is interesting; if you look at the mobile space alone, there is an infinite amount of information published on an almost daily basis of new technology, who is doing what, conferences, books and more. You have to be diligent: we have team members that are assigned to certain segments of the market to make sure they are doing their best to stay on top of the trends that are affecting our clients.
You also have to take a pragmatic approach; mobile is certainly where the puck is going in the future and that is well-beyond where our clients are today. You want to deliver your solutions in a thoughtful, pragmatic way to enable clients to take payments and do so as effortlessly as possible.
But while we want to take a thoughtful, pragmatic approach, we also want to make sure that we are delivering information on trends that our clients need to know. So we also do many surveys with our own clients and they tell us what they are curious about so we can make sure we are delivering around those key areas.
CEOCFO: How do you deal with people who want to use cash in a bank account payment?
Mr. Roberts: We have a partnership with Moneygram that allows us to help with cash. We also provide payment processing for checks and lockbox capabilities that we can offer to our clients. If they are doing a high volume of checks, we have check readers. If they have a small number of checks, they can scan the checks in an ACH transaction. We provide an entire portfolio of technologies that allows us to take cash, check or credit.
CEOCFO: When BillingTree is speaking with a potential new client, is there an “ah-ha” moment when they understand the difference in what you can provide?
Mr. Roberts: I think they do. I believe we take a more consultative approach. We do not come in there saying, “Hey, we can give you 1.9%.” We have tried to be the value added provider by delivering the extra pieces. Our sales and executive team will participate in an overall business review with a client and help them to identify the key areas where they can optimize some of their channels to increase their revenue. We can also point them to specific partners.
With all the regulatory changes and the pressures that agencies feel from the government, we have taken a thoughtful and conservative approach and are doing a good job of informing them through white papers, webinars and key thought leaders around payment and processing areas that matter to them. They can ask us questions and we can give them a very thoughtful answer.
CEOCFO: How do you deal with the challenge of changing to your system?
Mr. Roberts: Fortunately, using us as a processor is a relatively straight-forward technology decision. If it’s through a partner, the integration is already done, the client does not have a responsibility to do anything from a technology perspective. On the other hand, the level of technological development that a standalone client that does not use one of our partners might need is relatively small and in most cases does not require software upgrades.
CEOCFO: Are there particular industries where you do not have the presence that you would like?
Mr. Roberts: There are a couple of areas that we are targeting right now and we are excited about their growth potential. We have not done a lot with them as yet so we are not exactly where we want to be. Those areas are auto-finance, looking across the spectrum of subprime auto finance and ‘buy here pay here’ merchants, which is a key area of growth for us because it is consistent with the value added proposition that we have provided in debt collection; healthcare is another area that we have seen opportunities; and also credit unions. Here we can bring more to bear to their clients and their merchants through the types of technology and capabilities that we have, whereas smaller credit unions typically do not have that same level of sophistication.
CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach?
Mr. Roberts: Domestic U.S. This year we did a high level of analysis of international expansion and at this point we made the decision that our core market is here in the U.S. - we feel like we have a tremendous amount of growth just contained within our core segment in our core geography. That does not mean that we would not do it opportunistically, but when you get outside the U.S. you end up with another set of regulations. If we were to expand geographically outside the U.S. it would be through inorganic approaches versus organic.
CEOCFO: How is business?
Mr. Roberts: Business is good. We face the headlines that our clients do with the regulatory environment. It is at the highest level I have seen in 21 years of professional business where the government is actively involved in shaping the direction of different industries. That being said, we continue to win large clients that appreciate the value we bring. I am pleased with where we are and I am even more excited about what the future holds for us over the next couple months and as we head into next year.
CEOCFO: What makes BillingTree an exceptional company to investors and people in the business community?
Mr. Roberts: Ultimately from an investment standpoint where many people are interested in payment processors, we have a high level of repeat revenue that is very consistent; therefore, we can generate a lot of economic return.
More appropriately, in a space that is quite crowded, BillingTree is finding the unique niches and the unique segments. Typically, the approach in this space has been acquisition and roll-up and get volume, but you do so at the risk of your margin.
Our approach is looking at opportunistic segments that we can deliver
strategic value to and do so at a premium without being seen as just another
payment processor. It is a slower approach to top line growth but it is more
steady, and over the long-term it is a much more thoughtful approach to
customer retention and value with more products and services delivered to
“Our approach is looking at opportunistic segments that we can deliver strategic value to and do so at a premium without being seen as just another payment processor.”- David Roberts
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