Perks lure tenants to online rent payments

Aside from convenience and cost savings, there are rewards

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 16, 2012

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Other companies that facilitate electronic rent payments include RentPayment, PayLease, eRentPayment, PayYourRent.com, and SmartRentOnline.com.

"Until recently, it was a fragmented market, but now there are some big players," Van Praagh said. "Companies that were in the utility payment business have now gone after payment of rent as a new business line."

At the moment, Van Praagh is not dismayed by the new competition. "It's not all they do, so they don't focus 100 percent on it like we do. That's good for us," he said.

This is a relatively new product and new product sector, so there's a lot of expected growth ahead.

Even in buildings where there is ClickPay, penetration varies.

"We range from 30 percent to 70 percent adoptions per building. We have some buildings that are 100 percent, but they are small," Van Praagh said.

The concept behind ClickPay as a kind of PayPal for renters seems so apparent -- a basic service that the industry needed -- that it was somewhat of a surprise to me that such a system wasn't invented back in the 1990s.

ClickPay was founded in 2006, and development was very slow at the start because real estate is a very complicated business due, for example, to the vast amount of federal, state and municipal regulations.

"There are a lot of nuances when it comes to processing real estate versus any other business," Van Praagh said. "Then you get into places like New York City, which has so many of its own regulations. When you start dealing with large property owners, you quickly see they are dealing with such challenges as collection, rent subsidy, Section 8 housing, etc., so you need a lot of bells and whistles just to be able to tie your software to the property management and accounting software packages."

I would have thought once ClickPay signed with a management company, it would offer incentives early in the game to entice clients to come over to the new system.

That doesn't happen.

However, ClickPay, like your airline, does have a loyalty reward program. A client who uses ClickPay gets access to its perks network that boasts a couple of hundred thousand vendors giving rewards of one sort or another.

ClickPay figured it had to do something to make tenants feel better about paying those substantial rents in places like New York. If you're paying $2,000 a month for a studio apartment, you might just want a toaster to help ease the pain.

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on Amazon.com.

Contact Steve Bergsman:
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