While working in investment banking in Shanghai and living in the city’s ex-pat friendly French Concession, Canadian Patrick Postrehovsky found himself scrambling to pay rent. He had to stick to a strict regimen to withdraw money in increments from a bank machine to be cautious of exceeding his daily limit.
“I was making five or six withdrawals at the end of each month just to amass this pile of cash to give my landlord,” he says. “We were all trying to find a better way to pay.”
Postrehovsky's ultimate solution was simple: he’d go to a Forex and purchase the cash as an exchange on his credit card. He’d pay a fee of about 4% but he accrued enough reward points on his credit card for three round-trip business-class tickets from Shanghai to New York City.
While it is common for a group of friends to pull out a diverse spectrum of rewards cards after an evening of good food and company, there has been one significant transaction that still largely happens in paper. Rent.
Postrehovsky wonders why, in a day where the smartphone has basically replaced our wallets, are we still in this archaic practice?
After returning to Canada, he teamed up with his two-minute-older twin brother Philipp to launch RentMoola, a Techvibes 20 company. Landlords typically don’t accept credit card payments because processing fees cut into already-slim margins.
RentMoola, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary of processing, asks tenants to pay a 2.75% fee (or $2 for direct debit), lower than a typical credit card, and making the twin-pronged pitch that the fee can pay for itself in reward points. The online platform enables users to pay from anywhere in the world and have the option of setting up one-time or recurring payments. Processing has been doubling every month, according to the company.
In order to use the service, a tenant’s landlord must first be enrolled. Users can visit the site, enter their postal code, and see if their landlord or condo corporation is on the service; after that, signing up to pay is a simple process, according to Postrehovsky.
RentMoola has launched offices in Toronto, New York, and most recently London in addition to its original location in Vancouver. To date, they’ve enrolled 200,000 units, Postrehovsky says.
Photo: Ric Ernst, Vancouver Sun