Innovative payment solutions provider Sage Pay is an alternative to expensive, bureaucratic bank procedures for small and medium enterprises, offering more flexible services and improved cash flow.
“For small and medium companies like mine, traditional systems for processing debit orders are old-fashioned, clumsy and very expensive,” says Atholl Fleming, part-owner and FD of Witbank security company Secure Access. “As a growing company our cash flows are very tight; we need to get client payments in promptly and effectively so we can meet our payroll and other financial commitments every month.”
Fleming began using Sage Pay services in 2004 after getting frustrated with his existing debit order provider. “The whole system was archaic,” he says. “It was all offline and we could only use one terminal to capture all our debit orders. That was okay when we were just starting out, but it became a major problem as we grew.
In addition, says Fleming, “The quality of the information we got back was very poor. If a debit order was rejected for lack of funds or if the customer had given the wrong account number, they couldn’t tell us where the problem was. “We’d have to do a manual search through the entire batch to find the problem. With Sage Pay, we can find and fix it quickly.”
Fleming and his staff have flexible access via the Internet to their account. “I have six or seven people who have access to the database, and I can check things from home or while I’m travelling.”
“For the first time in years my family could go away for a weekend at month end because I didn’t have to be in the office to check on things.” It is now also much easier for Secure Access staff to isolate and follow up on rejected debit orders. “The speed and efficiency of our debtors collection has improved markedly, and our month-end planning is much better,” says Fleming. “We’re also probably paying around R3,000 less than we would be paying our old service provider.”
Fleming notes as another advantage that Sage Pay retains a portion of each debit order run as a surety, rather than asking for upfront sureties. “I wasn’t so keen in the beginning because they held higher sureties than the previous service provider, but in hindsight it’s been to my advantage. I’ve never had to pay in any extra money to cover unpaid debit orders.”
With just over 2,300 debit orders per month to process, Fleming says Sage Pay has offered Secure Access much greater efficiency, ease of use, ease of access and cost effectiveness than any alternative solution. “They also offer more than just debit orders,” he says. “We pay our creditors through Sage Pay, and we use their credit card processing facilities as well.”
“Normally it costs about R800 a month just to rent a credit card machine for doing online transactions, and then there are transaction fees and commissions on top of that,” Fleming notes. “Sage Pay has a simple system which works very well for the few credit card transactions we need to do, and it costs much less.”
“My church and our homeowner’s association also now process payments through Sage Pay,” adds Fleming. “Between them they process a few hundred debit orders at the end of every month, and it takes about an hour. Doing that through a traditional bank would be a huge mission.