[“Mobile Payments Come Home” originally appeared on PYMNTS.]
Ring out the old — rent checks. Ring in the new — digital rent payments. For the latest Developer Tracker, PYMNTS spoke with Bruce Dragt of YapStone about how mobile is changing the rental payments game for both landlords and tenants.
One-Bedroom, Pet OK, Parking Included, Pay By App
Paying monthly rent by check made enough sense not too long ago, before new forms of payments started
to change consumer expectations. Renters could simply write a check to their landlord and mail it, without
making a trip to an office during business hours or risk putting cash in the mail. But these days many renters, especially younger consumers typically in the market for apartment rentals, want and expect more options.
And they do not like using checks. A survey from the Federal Reserve reported the number of checks in
circulation declined by more than 50 percent from 2000 to 2012 as payments via cards and other new methods
more than tripled.
Despite all that, according to the same research from the Fed, checks still reign supreme when it comes to rent
payments. But new players, like mobile rent-paying app YapStone, are interested in changing the playing field.
The company is looking to answer renters’ requests for another way to pay by offering the most ubiquitous
solution possible — one that accepts a wide range of payment types, according to Bruce Dragt, YapStone’s
senior vice president of product. PYMNTS recently caught up with Dragt for a discussion about the payment
platform and what he sees as a rent revolution.
Focused on options
Checks have been around for a long time, but they can be expensive and time-consuming for property management
companies to process. They can also have significant security flaws and are susceptible to fraudulent attacks,
according to the Association for Financial Professionals’ 2015 Payments Fraud and Control Survey.
Dragt said that YapStone is looking to replace checks with more modern forms of payments such as credit and debit cards and mobile wallets. The company’s solution accepts not just modern methods like card and mobile payments, but also ACH Payment processing, international payments and other acceptance methods. Renters with roommates can also share or split payments across multiple accounts.
Dragt noted that the platform does have certain perks for landlords and other property managers to entice them away from the familiar method of check acceptance. The solution includes features designed to improve upon the flaws of checks, such as PCI compliant security risk management, transaction reporting tools and marketing support.
“We provide as many mechanisms as possible for renters to pay their rent so that it can be as simple and
easy as possible for everyone to use the solution to make a payment,” Dragt said. “We also provide integration,
backing and tools for the property management companies, so they can update their records and keep track of
who has and has not paid.”
But the solution is not just designed for making payments on a full-time home, but also for a home away from
home. YapStone is also used to facilitate short-term rentals, such as a week at a beach house or a cottage on
the slopes. The company has even powered payment processing for HomeAway, a popular vacation rental app
and website, for over 10 years.
Dragt noted that consumers, especially Millennials, have also come to expect a range of payment options when
it comes to making vacation plans, making a solution like YapStone a good fit for the travel industry.
“A very significant part of our business is focused on vacation rentals,” he said. “We have lots of property
owners all over the world that we service, so we work with them to accept payment in whatever currency the
customer uses, and they can be paid in their local currency.”
Partnering for wider acceptance
Dragt noted that a key part of YapStone’s strategy is to accept as many forms of payments as possible,
including credit and debit cards, ACH transfers and eChecks, and mobile wallets, with more likely to come
down the road.
In order to make sure the company can accept a wide range of payment methods simply and quickly, it has
collaborated with several partners, such as real estate software provider Yardi, property management tech
maker MRI Software and cloud-based FinTech firm SS&C Technologies. It has also joined with credit card
giants like American Express, Discover, Visa and Mastercard for payment processing services.
Most recently, the company announced a new integration and collaboration with payment processing provider Vantiv that will allow YapStone to offer single-touch payment acceptance for Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile wallet. Dragt said that the partnership was part of the company’s effort to add integrations for new payment methods as they become more widely used. “The ability to add new payment methods to our platform is really important,” Dragt explained. “The operating model that we use to support all these different payment ecosystems and to add new payment types is to make it very simple and seamless for our end client. So we want to make it available to the consumer as quickly as possible without disrupting the core operating environment for property managers.” Perhaps with a preponderance of partners and a wide range of payment methods, it will not be too long before checks are given an eviction notice and tenants are paying their rent whichever way they choose.