Exec Seat: Q&A With Doug Wicks, CEO of Payze
Meet Doug Wicks, PhD, a familiar face among those who’ve worn their hats in the online adult industry for some time.
Last August, Wicks took an equity stake in payment solutions company Payze.com, which was founded by industry vets who’ve operated processing systems since the late 1990s. Wicks joined the Payze board and immediately assumed the role of CEO.
XBIZ World recently asked Wicks a number of questions about Payze, how he got where he is today and the new federal initiative, Operation Chokepoint, and its effects on the processing industry.
XBIZ: How did you get involved in the industry and where did you get your start?
WICKS: By chance really. I finished a job in Europe for three years and landed back in Phoenix where this little company with 10 employees asked me to come work for them. I told them no thank you to their first two offers but they were very insistent. That company was CCBill, and within two years we had over 200 employees and I was the vice president of sales for both their processing and hosting companies. As they say, the third time is a charm and I was very lucky to work with such a great group of people.
XBIZ: How did Payze find its beginnings?
WICKS: Hank Freeman, the owner of SexKey.com and substantial domain portfolios partnered with Joel Paulin, who was the former COO of CCBill in 2006. Together they planned and devised the concept of Payze.com. The idea was very simple and that was to provide a true onestop shop for online merchants at lower rates than their competition. Merchant accounts, affiliate tracking, detailed reporting and the new third-party processing coming shortly will give Payze.com the one-stop shop.
XBIZ: What defines Payze and make it stand out from the rest?
WICKS: First, the trusted group of owners and employees. You will not find a complete group of owners and employees with the amount of experience that we have. Secondly is the detailed reporting engine and complete affiliate system powered by NATS that we feel is better than anything on the market. Lastly is our banking ties that give us the ability to provide the lowest rates in the industry.
XBIZ: How important is it to customize programs for client needs? And can you give some real and interesting examples of such customization?
WICKS: Very important for starters. Most clients have the need to sell their products in slightly different ways and gather reporting for feedback differently. The key to a successful relationship is to provide a large set of tools that these clients can pick and choose from. Also, you must have the ability to create new tools and reporting quickly as the online sales environment evolves and changes. Currently we have clients needing to sell tokens in a wallet system so we have built and provide that. Others have needed a true cable billing model where you can add additional charges one month and take charges away in other months, so we built that. Cancel discounts, upsells, cross sells are all part of the Payze tool set.
XBIZ: What sector of the online adult business is driving the market these days?
WICKS: I would say that cam/chat, dating and the true niche arenas drive the market.
XBIZ: Where is most of your business coming from, Europe or U.S., or is it about the same?
WICKS: U.S., E.U. and Canada in that order for our portfolio.
XBIZ: Are there any countries/regions that you don’t currently service but would like to in the near future?
WICKS: We are currently working on implementing Asian banks as well as South America.
XBIZ: How does Payze, with an evolving slate of banking and privacy regulations, stay in compliance?
WICKS: Interestingly, different banks interpret card association and government rules in slightly different ways. Payze.com has many banks behind the scene, so it becomes a challenge to be many things to many different banks. That said, the answer lies in the clientele that you take on for business. If you are selective with who you allow to process under your brand then you have a much easier path in being compliant.
XBIZ: What’s your take on the effects of Operation Chokepoint?
WICKS: From what I have read and understand there are banks dropping perfectly good clients and using the government's operation chokepoint as one of the reasons. This really brings up the morality issue for the banks and again most banks operate with a different set of moral codes and regulations. Does this mean adult processing is going away? No! Does this mean gun ammunition sales are going away? No! What this means is that the banks will become more selective with whom they choose to do business with but this has been going on long before operation chokepoint.
XBIZ: What’s coming up for the company this year and in 2015?
WICKS: As mentioned, the Payze.com third-party processing will be launching in the fall of this year. This, in itself, will be a great addition to our line of products. Additionally you will see new reporting tools, new banks and generally a lot more of us at the shows.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
WICKS: You mean after reading my copy of XBIZ World? Video conferencing, online chatting, emails and phone calls take up the day. For most of us at Payze there is also getting the kids up and off to school, working hard during the day, getting the kids home from school, homework, dinner, play time and then off to bed. Then there is the late night work that tends to happen since we are part of this global online community with clients around the world.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
WICKS: Most of us at Payze have children so I would have to say that family and children dominate our non-biz time.