Our quest to find an innovative supplier to the property industry brought us to PayProp, provider of automated rental payments for property managers. Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer at PayProp UK, spoke to Agent Wow for our ‘Supplier of the Month’ feature.
AW: What are the location/regions of the business:
Neil Cobbold: PayProp Holdings has businesses in the UK, Canada and South Africa.
AW: How long has PayProp been in business?
Neil Cobbold: Since October 2015 in the UK, and since 2004 overall.
AW: What are PayProp’s main services/activities?
Neil Cobbold: We are an automated transaction platform specific to the lettings industry.
AW: Who are your main team members in the UK?
Neil Cobbold: André Holtshausen, Chief Executive Officer; myself, Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer; Jo Smith, Head of Client Relations; and Peter Cox, Chief Financial Officer.
AW: What do you do differently?
Neil Cobbold: We look to raise client money handling procedures and transparency in the lettings industry by offering bank-integrated transactions, automation of reconciliation and payments, and consistency of communication between landlords and tenants.
Our support is another thing that sets us apart. Although we are an IT company built on automation, we understand there’s a human element to transactions, so we keep a first-rate UK-based support team that’s accessible if you need to speak to a human being.
AW: How does PayProp help/benefit Estate Agents/Letting Agents/property professionals?
Neil Cobbold: We offer agents five things that landlords love – automated reconciliations, automated client communications, bank integration, unlimited support and growth. Automation helps agents to claw back time to grow the business (which would otherwise have been spent on administrative tasks). Growth is also a function of the scalability of an automated system. And finally, we provide consistency of service. Irrespective of whether an agent manages one property or a thousand, they’ll always provide the same levels of service to landlords and tenants: tenants will always get a receipt when paying rent into a client account and landlords will always get their statements on being paid. PayProp has removed this administrative burden from the agent.
We also offer security and transparency of client money transactions. In a market where it’s difficult to differentiate between an agent doing things correctly and one who isn’t (but will say exactly the same), PayProp is the differentiator and sets the standard. We are the only system that can say we are bank-integrated and that we provide a purely automated service that greatly reduces human error because agents cannot intervene to change the information that ends up with landlord and tenants.
PayProp uses the actual flow of money to generate our platform information. Typically, a landlord is less worried about the 10% or 12% an agent takes as commission than about the 88% to 90% that’s left and that he needs to get into his bank account. We remove that ability to alter things from the agent.
AW: What do you think is coming next in the property industry?
Neil Cobbold: There are a few things on the horizon. Client Money Protection will be the next one to hit and that will come with a burden of compliance. I think that if we want to see a little bit further into the future than CMP and the tenant fees ban, we can look to Scotland – like Scotland, I think we are going to become a fully-regulated industry, which is a good thing.
AW: What would you like to see happen/change in the industry or arrive on the proptech scene?
Neil Cobbold: I would like to see more government support for deposit alternatives, to increase affordability. At the moment there is lots of activity in this space, but these are backed by insured products and are currently untested. Without some kind of government backing in terms of legislation and policy, uptake will be slow. If we could remove the deposit burden for tenants, it would make more tenants more mobile – which would make the industry move quicker in turn.
I’d also like to see more happening with rental payments – not only making them part of someone’s credit file, but also being considered as part of the affordability test in a mortgage application. If someone has been paying their rent for 10 years, it seems a bit ridiculous for a mortgage company to say, “I don’t think you can afford this amount”.
Thanks to Neil Cobbald and PropTech for providing Agent Wow with insight into your services, company ethos and where you see the proptech market is heading.