When Trevor Cook and George DeMarchi were launching Payment Source in early 2014, they knew they were taking a big risk and, both in their mid 50s, a late-career one.
“It was the quintessential entrepreneur story where we were all in . . . at a late stage in our professional lives,” says DeMarchi, the company’s president. “But for some reason, neither of us worried about it. It was just like, ‘We are going to make this happen.’ ”
And they have made it happen.
The alternative payments company has doubled in size in the past two years, approaching 60 employees in offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Revenue has grown to about $120 million, and it processes about $500 million a year in payment transactions, working with more than 15,000 retailers across the country and some of the largest retail brands in the world like Visa, MasterCard and Amazon.
Formed from the merger of the Canadian operations of Now Prepay, where DeMarchi worked, and Cook’s Ezipin, Payment Source is thriving in a space that has emerged with the growth of the digital economy and e-commerce.
“There is a large section of the Canadian population who don’t participate in the digital world,” says Cook, the company’s CEO. They may be concerned about security breaches or unable to get a credit card. “We provide means for them to participate.”
That means branded retail gift cards, but also top-ups for mobile prepaid customers, online payment vouchers and, through its Loadhub network at 6,000 Canada Post locations, a system for people to convert real cash into a digital form. “We bridge between physical, in-person transactions and the digital world,” says Cook.
One of the critical factors to their success has been their ability to quickly respond to client needs and bring new solutions and products to market. In the mobile top-up space, for example, Payment Source’s two biggest competitors are billion-dollar global players, says DeMarchi. “We are equal in scale, we are equal in scope, and we are equal in the level of activity we do in this country, but we then surpass them by being first to market,” he says.
When it was launching its Lucky Mobile brand last year, Bell called Payment Source. “The only place you can buy the top-up for that product is through our network . . . we were first to market,” says DeMarchi.
Payment Source was also the first provider to bring Amazon Cash to Canada. “I think from first introduction, through to contract execution, through to being live in the market, we were four months,” DeMarchi enthuses. “That can’t be matched within a year by any other organization.”