In recent years, automation has become a key focal point in businesses of all shapes and sizes, and the out-of-school care and recreation (or OSCAR) market is no exception.
New Zealand-based student management platform Aimy is a prime example of how payment automation can help liberate parents and OSCAR providers alike from the stress and anxiety that is often associated with out-of-school care.
Discover how Ezypay helped to automate payments in the Aimy platform, transforming it into an all-in-one solution for OSCAR providers in New Zealand.
Aimy offers a cloud-based student management system for clients in the out-of-school care and recreation (OSCAR) market. Its end-to-end software platform gives OSCAR providers a convenient and highly automated way to manage bookings and the general day-to-day administration of their business.
At the time, there was a strong demand for a comprehensive software solution to replace the traditional ‘pen and paper’ method commonly used by OCSCAR providers. Despite Aimy’s revolutionary product, New Zealand’s OSCAR providers were slow to respond – and very much set in their old habits.
“We've been part of the revolutionary change in the market where a lot of the providers have gone from paper-based systems or old manual systems, or very antiquated systems,” explains Ally Tarr, Head of Customer Success for Aimy. “And they've now transitioned to having online enrolment forms, online bookings, and now recently, online parent payments as well.”
Since its inception, Aimy has rapidly grown throughout New Zealand, capturing 70% of the market share in the OSCAR industry. Their success in New Zealand is just the tip of the iceberg, with future expansion into new geographic regions planned.
At launch, the Aimy platform was unable to process payments, preventing them from offering a completely automated, end-to-end solution to their network of OSCAR providers and caregivers.
Originally, Aimy partnered with Xero to automate invoicing - however, the Xero platform was unable to process payments, requiring parents and guardians to make payments manually after receiving an invoice.
On the other side of the fence, OSCAR providers were simply required to wait and hope the payment was made, on time and for the correct amount - leading to unpredictable cashflow issues and other accounting headaches.
“It was very much a waiting game for the providers. They’d wait for parents to hopefully remember to pay and do it on time. Their cash flow was unpredictable.”
OSCAR providers are required to book resources (such as buses and venues) in advance without receiving payment from parents. With these upfront out-of-pocket expenses and inconsistent cash flow from irregular payments, these providers can struggle to remain profitable.
Another challenge faced by OSCAR providers was how the current approach forced parents to pay upfront for the entire school term, with no easy way to split up lump payments. In most cases, parents were also unaware of how often they needed their kids to be booked in.
Echo continues “Typically, centres will need to book a lot of resources in advance like bus trips and venues for the children, so they really need to know who's coming and who’s paid for it.”
It was clear to Aimy that the OSCAR provider market needed an end-to-end solution that could not only handle automated invoicing but automated payments as well - giving parents the agency to choose how they would like to pay.
Choosing the right partner
Due to the nature of the business, Aimy required a payments provider that could provide both one-off and recurring transactions: while the one-off payments would help cover fees for extra expenses (such as the out-of-centre trips), the recurring payments would cover the bulk of the parents’ fees.
“We definitely wanted upfront payments, and we wanted direct debit payments, and certain providers only do one, but not both”
With the significant upfront costs required to integrate, Aimy wanted to ensure that there was a financial benefit to the integration.
“Because it's a huge upfront cost to us to have this integration setup, to have the infrastructure in place for the providers to be able to benefit from it. We were obviously looking at ways that we can enjoy the benefits of that partnership.” Echo added.
With that in mind, the new payment partner would need to provide either an incentive or a revenue-sharing agreement to counter Aimy’s initial investment in the integration.
Plus, due to the administrative complexities of the New Zealand payment landscape, it was important to Aimy to find a payment provider that understood their specific and highly unique set of challenges.
Due to Ezypay’s existing payment experience in the New Zealand market and its ability to process both one-off and recurring payments, Aimy saw the potential of a partnership with Ezypay.
Developing a solution
Once Aimy had committed to partnering with Ezypay as its payments integrator, it was time to start developing and building the solution that would make the integration work. Integrating with a payment provider was new for Aimy and that - coupled with the small size of their development team - meant that Aimy’s tailored approach would require extra attention and care from Ezypay.
“It was a very hands-on onboarding process, which was great. Our team gave a lot of feedback from a user perspective, and the Ezypay team took it all on board.”
The ongoing feedback that the Aimy team provided shaped more than just the Aimy integration, rather it helped Ezypay continue to develop its industry-leading payment platform so that other partners could also benefit.
Aimy’s OSCAR providers were now able to enjoy the full benefit of Ezypay’s payment solution. The integration gives OSCAR providers the ability to offer flexible recurring payment options for their parents, while also being able to collect one-off or upfront payments (that they would typically be out of pocket for), improving their cash flow certainty.
With the help of Ezypay, Aimy can now offer a truly end-to-end software solution for the out-of-school care and recreation industry in New Zealand.
Before partnering with Ezypay, Aimy could see the benefit of offering flexible payment options for their out-of-school care service providers. By allowing parents to break up their fees into smaller amounts, Aimy are making their services more affordable while also increasing the likelihood of parents making payments on time. Aimy and Ezypay worked seamlessly together to develop a solution to meet the growing needs of the OSCAR providers, while also offering Aimy a new revenue stream.
As Aimy’s CEO Echo Guo explained “The integration was easy, it was straightforward. We had a very positive experience with the technical team and they answered our questions very quickly. Overall, it’s been a positive experience.”
When asked whether Aimy would recommend Ezypay to other companies looking for a payment integrator, Ally Tarr replied “Absolutely, Ezypay has been fantastic to work with. It’s been a great partnership and always been fantastic to work with everyone in the team.”
“Absolutely, Ezypay has been fantastic to work with. It’s been a great partnership and always been fantastic to work with everyone in the team.”