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Pivot complete, PaySAFE aims to handle 10k transactions per month

PaySAFE founder Matthew Medlock said PaySAFE plays the biggest role in transactions that crest over the protection ability of the eBays and Craigslists – usually a product or service valued $5,000 and up.

“We never changed the concept of the company, but we changed how we presented it,” Matthew Medlock (left), founder of PaySAFE Escrow, said of his company’s pivot over the last year. “We’re more than an escrow company; we’re a closing table.”

PaySAFE, which started last March as an online method of providing escrow services for either construction services or personal goods, expanded last October into six transaction categories, including titled vehicles, commercial goods and domain names.

“We let the company show us what it wanted to do,” Medlock said, and as a result he’s seen PaySAFE user count double almost every month since the end of last summer.

In December, he also responded to the need to provide PaySAFE internationally. At that time, the U.S. Department of Commerce recognized the escrow service as a viable payment technique to be used for export trade.

Though the company’s first international transactions were domain names, classic car buffs are finding in PaySAFE an answer to the trust teeter-totter of buying something expensive from states, or countries, away. “Australia loves American classic cars,” Medlock said. Domestically, he’s seen money for everything from livestock to antique television tubes pass through his site.

Buyers and sellers use PaySAFE’s resources to do it all themselves: create the contract, name the expectations, and define a purchase agreement.

“We look at it as, here’s our room to close your deal, and here’s our library of resources in case you need to use them,” Medlock said. Users often pose such questions as, “Am I getting a fair price?” or “Should I get an inspection of the product?” but Medlock said PaySAFE won’t be stepping in to directly answer those queries. Instead, users are referred to the startup’s new blog, which is full of resources for those seeking more information.

Another addition to the expanded service is the ability to track communications for a transaction. Users can upload photos, comment on when a product was shipped, and so on. Not tech savvy? Help buttons attached to most fields in the online forms have eased call volume.

Simplified fee calculators are another answer to a Medlock observation: “People don’t like math.” Instead of percentages based on transaction totals, the escrow fees that comprise PaySAFE’s total revenue are currently stairstepped by every $5,000 of transaction. Users can decide between themselves who pays the fee: the buyer, the seller or both, split down the middle. “Those three buttons solved 80 percent of our customer service questions,” Medlock said. The minimum escrow is $200 with a minimum fee of $75.

According to Medlock, PaySAFE plays the biggest role in transactions that crest over the protection ability of the eBays and Craigslists. That’s usually a product or service valued at $5,000 and up. Exceptions are relatively low-cost products that have got to be what they say they are, like World War II memorabilia.

Medlock credited bootstrapping as the primary reason why PaySAFE is an online closing table instead of just an online escrow service. “You move slowly, but you watch and learn,” he said, stating that PaySAFE is being groomed to handle close to 10,000 transactions a month by the end of 2013.

“Are we building a foundation that you can dump millions of users on?” Medlock said. “Are you taking the time so that when this thing starts going 120 miles an hour, the doors don’t start flying off?”


Credits: Screenshots from paysafeescrow.com. Matthew Medlock photo courtesy of PaySAFE.

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