Prommt proves it’s okay to pay over the phone

Brands like Selfridges, BMW, Bulgari and Harvey Norman have placed their trust in a fast-growing young Irish firm called Prommt to enable remote credit card payments.

When it comes to paying for big ticket items whether they are weddings, holidays, building supplies, clothing or even cars, many people put less emphasis on the security of the transaction over a phone call than they would if they were buying the same products or services online.

Describing itself as a “payment success platform”, scaling Dublin company Prommt is on a mission to change this by blending secure e-commerce payments with online and offline e-commerce payments.

“The average transaction over e-commerce is €50 or €60. But the average transaction over a phone can be €200 or €300 and higher”

The company, a spin-out from Dublin firm Puca, launched in 2019 after taking Puca’s Pay2Sender payments gateway platform and redeploying it as a way to enable businesses to allow customers to securely validate payments over the phone or online.

For example, by combining trust and context, a customer of Harvey Norman for example, can complete the payment for a new couch over the phone, safely and securely.

Paying ‘Prommt-ly’

Harvey Norman is just one of a number of leading brands that are using the platform to secure phone-based payments, including Toyota, Crowne Plaza, BMW, Cambria, Travelodge, Chadwicks, Powerscourt, Bulgari, Brown Thomas and Selfridges, to name a few.

“We’re helping many businesses to cut down on an awful lot of credit control problems where there are real operational issues around payments”

“Many in the financial world would know that ‘Moto’ (mail order telephone order) is a term for over the phone transactions where credit card numbers are entered manually and processed remotely,” explained Donal McGuinness, CEO of Prommt.

“While there is a lot of emphasis on e-commerce and online shopping, if you look at the average transactions through these channels, the average transaction over e-commerce is €50 or €60. But the average transaction over a phone can be €200 or €300 and higher.

“The problem with taking an order over the phone is that it is fraught with risk. From the point of view of the merchant it is very easy for a buyer to ‘charge back’ the transaction, making it risky from a fraud point of view. From the customer’s point of view there is always that worry that you are giving your card number to someone you don’t know who may be writing it down on a post-it note.”

Prommt is an innovative and scalable software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that removes these headaches by making payments secure and improving the customer support experience.

In the context of a situation where a customer may be buying a car or jewellery, for example by phone, to send a payment request a merchant only needs the customer’s mobile number or email address to send a payment request with a smart link with quick and secure payment options. The business then receives the payment directly into their merchant account. Job done.

“Customers want it to be a nice user experience and they want it to be a safe and secure user experience,” says McGuinness. “Another thing about over-the-phone payments is they can be time-consuming.

“The problem we solve is we turn a risky, clunky and typically negative user experience into a positive one that can be slick, efficient, trustworthy and branded. This works for businesses that are selling high-value luxury goods or goods that require a premium level of service.”

For example, Prommt is enabling various concessions that work within Selfridges in London to work with personal shoppers to complete transactions via mobile devices on behalf of clients.

The business works with 20 different payment gateways, including BOIPA, to ensure secure transactions.

McGuinness describes what Prommt does as “payment communications” involving the management of the payment, process and customer experience.

“For example, when a customer buys furniture or an item like a TV from Harvey Norman, often they pay a deposit that day in-store. Weeks later when the item, worth over €2,500 is ready for delivery, instead of messing with bank transfers or other ways to secure the payment, we streamline it. When the furniture is ready to go, the customer gets an email or text and a prompt to pay the balance, and the delivery goes ahead.”

The scaling business closed a funding round in December led by Elkstone, Enterprise Ireland and Prague-based private investment firm called Lilyvale.

“We’re helping many businesses to cut down on an awful lot of credit control problems where there are real operational issues around payments. So we’ve been investing in the platform and the people and we have been signing up some amazing customers.

“Moto is an old term in the payments industry, but it is still a huge part of the payments mix where some of the highest transaction values occur. We fit neatly into that niche and help establish brands provide a more satisfactory and secure experience for their customers,” McGuinness said.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.