iPartment is a German provider of short-let apartments in Cologne, Essen and Frankfurt. Founded in 2010, iPartment now rents out more than 160 apartments every month with the majority of its customers being business travellers who need to stay in a city for a number of weeks or months.
iPartment has an established customer base including Allianz, H&M and Deutsche Bank and it relies on a flexible model and transparent costs. The expansion beyond Cologne into Essen and Frankfurt made additional payment methods necessary. In keeping with the increasing size of its business, iPartment wanted to offer its customers a variety of secure payment methods
In order to simplify its logistics and to make life as easy as possible for its customers, iPartment does not generally request a deposit, but instead asks for the rent to be paid five days before the let starts. Customers have therefore been able to pay either locally in cash or by bank transfer.
However, neither solution was optimal, particularly for last-minute lets.
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In order to be able to make reservations through Booking.com, customers can now also pay by credit card.
In addition, with Saferpay PDF Payment from SIX Payment Services, iPartment now offers a fourth payment option: customers receive an invoice by e-mail with an attached PDF which includes a link to the secure payment system provided by SIX Payment Services. Here the data is stored securely. As soon as the customer clicks on the link and confirms the payment, it is recorded in the system and iPartment can approve the booking. This makes the procedure suitable for last-minute lets, too.
The pilot for Saferpay PDF Payment began in November 2013. As the procedure was new to most customers, it took a few weeks for them to adapt and become confident that they could trust it – somewhat like PayPal when it started. But in the end, people were won over by the fact that it is so easy to use, all that is necessary is to click on the link. In Frankfurt, two thirds of all payments are now made using the secure Saferpay PDF Payment procedure.
For iPartment this payment method has a significant benefit: it means the company does not need PCI compliance, which the law requires any provider that comes into contact with credit card data to have. SIX Payment Services securely manages the credit card data and customers’ personal information in its own system. As a result, iPartment has no connection with the data and the company is exempt from PCI obligations. SIX Payment Services takes on responsibility for the data and security – for a company that handles access to the Swiss stock exchange this is no great challenge.
All that was needed to integrate Saferpay PDF Payment into the billing process was to link up to a PDF printer. The PDF printer sets the generated payment link at the bottom of the PDF invoice. The system was very easily by iPartment into its corporate design.
The only challenge was licensing the PDF printer for a third-party provider. This is free of charge for small companies at a single location. However, iPartment, with its three locations, has outsourced IT to a service provider. The PDF printer has to be able to issue the files at three different sites and manage a number of users. The solution was a PDF printer with a new licensing model which satisfied the requirements of iPartment – the problem was thereby quickly solved.
The three staff responsible for billing can use the back office program to see in real time who has already given the instruction for payment to be made. This means that iPartment and its customers are spared unnecessary reminders which overlap with payments. This saves time and expense. The cost of the solution is covered by iPartment’s reduced expenditure, so it incurs no additional overheard.
For iPartment, the use of Saferpay PDF Payment is not only an important step in terms of customer satisfaction. Deployment of this innovative and secure payment method is also an attractive feature for investors as iPartment is set apart from other providers – ultimately the low default rate on receivables has a positive effect on cash flow.
Falk Haase, Operations Manager at iPartment said: “The PDF Payment solution from SIX Payment Services has helped us to keep a tight grip on finances during a period of swift expansion. The solution gives us full control over incoming payments, while the billing process in the background is very straightforward and user-friendly. Despite expanding, we have not had to increase our headcount. The solution has enabled an appreciable reduction in our expenditure.”