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Collect Money via Email with SmartPay

From CircleUp, a group messaging service for membership websites, comes a new service called SmartPay which lets small groups and teams collect money via email. This can easily replace the old method of payment collection used by most groups today: passing around an envelope and stuffing it full of cash and checks. The new SmartPay service uses Amazon Payments on the backend, providing members with a familiar experience that will hopefully ease their security concerns about paying online.

At first glance, it sounds as if SmartPay is a PayPal competitor, but that’s not really the case. Instead, the service is designed to be  integrated with the company’s SmartMessage Center where members can create email reminders about payments due and track who has and has not paid. The message center platform can either be branded as CircleUp or sold as a white label service that can be added to existing membership websites.

According to the company, the SmartPay service is designed specifically for small groups like sports teams, class parents, faith-based groups, endurance sports clubs, membership organizations such as YMCA Y-Guide & Princess programs, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America, as well as any other organization where funds are regularly pooled for events or activity expenses.

When using the service, those making the payments are charged a $0.99 “convenience” fee plus 6.9% of any payment amount that goes over $20.00. These fees cover the Amazon Payment transaction processing fees and are also what provides CircleUp with cash flow. However, the fees aren’t charged until after the first 30 days have passed as the first month of SmartPay is entirely free. They’re also hardly enough to be of much concern – especially when you factor in what banks’ ATM fees are like these days!

The SmartPay service is live now at www.circleup.com and has recently integrated with eteamz, a service that hosts team sports websites for over 3 million members. Additionally, SmartPay allows AOL and Facebook users to login with either of those accounts thanks to OpenID and Facebook Connect integration.

This service might not be the “sexiest” of web applications we’ve reviewed as of late, but it addresses a real need that small groups, organizations, and teams have when it comes to collecting money. It falls directly into that “this may actually be useful” group of services, so while the early adopter crowd might not be swooning over it, we’ll bet there are some “team moms” who are.

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