Aug 4 , 2010

AlertPay sees 500,000 new sign-ups

By Robin Arnfield, News Editor

AlertPay, a Montreal, Quebec-based online payments firm, has signed up 500,000 new users in the last four months. “These figures include both consumers who use our service to make payments, as well as merchants,” Firoz Patel, AlertPay’s president and CEO, tells Payments Business. “We were adding 80 new merchants a day, and this figure has risen to 120 recently.”

Patel founded AlertPay in 2004 with his brother Ferhan, along with six staff. The firm has now grown to 75 employees, and 4.5 million users. It provides payments to 197 countries, in 23 currencies including Hong Kong, US and Canadian dollars; the Euro; Sterling; Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Kronors; and Swiss Francs.

“We do everything that PayPal does and more,” Firoz Patel says. “For example, a business wanting to make mass payments to its staff couldn’t use PayPal if this exceeded the amount of money a PayPal stored-value account can hold. For example, if a firm wanted to make C$1 million worth of disbursements from your account, it couldn’t use PayPal. But we have developed a facility for mass payments, for example salaries, bonuses or commissions. We offer a very wide range of methods for paying in to an AlertPay account, including wire transfers, cheques, money orders, payment cards and ACH, plus a large number of payout methods.”

Consumers can use AlertPay to make purchases at participating online merchants, and also to make money transfers to people in other countries.

In a statement, AlertPay says it complies with the authorities that regulate the online payment industry: the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI); the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC); and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). “We have a money transmission licence from FINTRAC,” Firoz Patel says.

“Generally, every jurisdiction in which a money transmission firm operates, will require that it gain a licence. For example, individual U.S. states will demand money transmission licences. However, the fact that we have a Canadian licence from FINTRAC seems to serve us in very good stead abroad, and means we don’t have to register for multiple licences.”

AlertPay states that it is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant and uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to protect users’ personal information. Other security measures include certifications by McAfee Secure and VeriSign Extended Validation.

Recent innovations include email invoicing, which allows a merchant to email a bill to a shopper. “In a later phase, we plan to use this email facility for the electronic presentment of utility bills, once we have more transaction flows through our system,” Firoz Patel says.

Also, recipients can now transfer funds from their AlertPay accounts to a credit or debit card. Payout can also take place via ACH transfer, wire transfer or cheque.

Firoz Patel complains that in his opinion, eBay is anti-competitive in that it forces Canadians to use PayPal for purchasing items on its auction site. “AlertPay has complained to the Canadian competition authorities about this,” he says.




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