GTBill: Billing With Innovation
But don't count on that lasting too long.
"I said that if we're going to do it, we're going to do it all in," says Dean Slover, founding partner of GTBill, about his new project. "Although we've been involved in adult processing, we've only been involved under the GTBill brand for a couple of weeks. But we have a whole team solely focused on the adult industry. I'm committed to it. The company is committed to it, and we're going all out."
GTBill actually is part of a larger company, Allied Systems, which has been in the payment processing business for more than five years, processing for standard e-commerce companies, as well as some adult merchants. But Slover believes that there is a special opportunity right now for a processor that deals solely in adult.
"Over the years," he says, "we have been approached by so many people that we have turned down, because we thought that the existing payment processing players in the industry were doing a good job. But in recent years, I've noticed that payment processors in adult are not as innovative as they used to be, and they're not servicing their customers' needs the way they used to. I feel that they kind of dropped the ball, and we definitely can fill that niche. It's something that we do every day with our existing clients, and I no longer feel that the competition is as formidable as it once was."
What led Slover to this conclusion? He claims it was simply a case of listening and watching.
"We've learned this from the feedback of clients that have switched to us," he says. "It's also feedback that I've heard at the shows, because I've been a customer of all the other processing companies. A lot of it was reaffirmed at the Las Vegas show, where people were really excited that we were launching GTBill, because they all had different stories about being ignored. They said existing processors think they're too small, and that they only want to deal with the firms that do a huge amount of business. What about the little guy that does about $10,000 a month? Our systems are geared to have a place for everybody out there. We want to deal with the big players, but we're not going to ignore the small guy."
As GTBill is part of a larger company, which has been in the payment processing business for more than five years, Slover's new kid on the block is not starting from scratch. Its sister company, Allied Wallet, is a big player in e-commerce, allowing webmasters to receive payouts in its "e-wallet," where they can send the money to a debit card or to any bank account they choose. Slover simply made a few tweaks in the system to gear it specifically to the adult merchant, making GTBill more adult-friendly.
"Adult customers' needs are more specific," he explains. "We have a different set of customer service guidelines we need to follow in adult. There's a little bit more work to do in terms of customer service and a lot of people in adult may be smaller, so we decided to keep GTBill separate from Allied. But being part of our umbrella of companies benefits the webmasters in that they have a say in where the money goes, and they can save a few bucks in that manner.
"We saw a niche in the adult industry, where a lot of the other payment processors were taking advantage of the webmasters by charging exorbitant rates. Based on the platform we've been using on all of our other processing for years, we can offer the same or better customer service, and end-report at a lower rate, so people actually can take more of their money home.
"As we all know, it's harder and harder to get users to every site, because there is so much more competition out there. So everybody is looking for a way to make more money out of their existing user base. Well, one way they can do that is by switching to GTBill, because we're going to ensure that they take more money home with them."
The highest rate GTBill charges its customers currently is less than 10 percent. This figure is five percent lower than most of the competing processors, according to Slover.
"Our rates are a huge deal," he adds. "We pay out on time, every time."
Another attraction for potential customers is the firm's "scalable fraud scrubber," to deal with the chronic headaches of the payment processing business, stolen credit cards, charge-backs and a myriad of scams.
"We integrate with a lot of different third-party systems to offer everything in fraud scrubbing that someone could be looking for," Slover maintains. "We can access a big database of charge-backs."
In his years of payment processing experience, Slover has seen every trick imaginable, some of which have become hilarious war stories that he shares with employees during lulls in his offices. But for every scam, there is a countermeasure, and Slover has integrated all of these into GTBill. One of them, "velocity scrubbing," targets suspicious credit cards almost in real time.
"Say a card has been used online eight times today," Slover offers. "It might not be a card that we want to accept."
Pursuing the same goal of protecting his merchants, Slover also set up a collections department exclusive to GTBill, which he claims is aggressive in following up on chargebacks.
"We have an online charge-back system, which allows the merchant to initiate the dispute," he says. "Once they get a chargeback, the merchant logs into that, uploads any information that they have related to the case, and why they feel that it is an error. Our department goes from there. We really go to bat on those, because it's in our best interest as well as the merchant's best interest.
Aside from the merchant-customer balancing act, Slover knows that developing and maintaining good relations with banking partners is just as vital to the existence of any payment processor. GTBill draws on the worldwide banking partners of Allied Wallet, which started in the financial tabernacle of London, and continues to keep its headquarters there. The new company won't do anything to harm those partnerships. Slover has seen to that.
"We're not out there to burn a bank, because they are what keep us all in business," he says. "If we're having an issue, we let them know. Sometimes, we let them know too soon, but I'd rather let them know early, rather than have them call me wondering what's going on with this or that.
To see that this occurs, GTBill — headquartered in Arizona — has offices in various time zones all over the world. When Slover interviewed for this article, he was answering phones in an office in Northern India, near the Pakistan and Nepal borders.
Making money for his customers is a talent Slover learned almost in self defense. He entered the online payment arena by accident, when his Allied Systems attempted to link with a Danish processing company as it launched in August 2001. Unfortunately, his new partners in Denmark didn't have their banks in order, and Slover had to roll up his sleeves and adopt a business he had no intention of getting into. Today, he considers it a happy accident.
But Slover's initial dip into online commerce was as an adult webmaster in 1997. He was also the man behind malebox.com. A graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in accounting, Slover first worked the ledgers of a restaurant company, and then moved to Merrill-Lynch.
"While there, I watched all these 20-year-olds become billionaires in the IT sector," he remembers. "I left Merrill Lynch, and taught myself what I needed to know about this business."
To this day, Slover believes the most important lesson he's taught himself is never to forget what it was like when he started, and to apply that to his customers today.
"We want to help the little guys coming out, no matter how whacky their ideas might seem," he says, "because what's whacky today might be the next big trend. I know this, because I'm the idiot who didn't buy Google stock at $87. Now I'm always on the lookout for anything new. Whenever I hear something new, I make sure to ask what it's about, and find out who's doing the processing. There's a lot of new stuff coming out that's pretty cool."