Kiwi ‘hire purchase’ platform attracts US interest

Perweek is an online trading platform where the entire buying process is based around the principle of buying something in weekly amounts

A New Zealand-built trading platform that essentially offers hire purchase online is attracting interest from US operators who want to licence the risk model on which it is built.

Perweek is described by director Peter Terpstra as the world’s first online trading platform where the entire buying process is based around the principle of buying something in weekly amounts. It has integrated risk assessment that builds weekly prices specific to the customer and the product processes in real time.

“Perweek occupies a different place in the retail landscape than TradeMe because all the products are new and the primary sales proposition is that the goods are paid for by weekly amounts under finance,” he says.

“I’ve built massive analytical models to manage the risk. The customer can build a payment plan that suits them, and Perweek manages the risk and profitability through strategically assigning the customer’s interest rate and allocation.”

Once the customer joins Perweek and enters details such as salary and an employer’s name, data from credit agencies is applied. This allows a weekly spend to be assessed.

Terpstra launched the site last June with a few test retailers on board. He now has 1000 customers with potential earnings of $3 million.

“We’ve done no promotional work outside of New Zealand but we’re getting licensing inquiries from the States,” he says.

“We’ve developed a back-end structure and technology that can handle the numerous supply chain models employed by different industries in New Zealand. We plan to extend our relationships with distributors and retailers to supply products in more than 200 categories.”

He says there is room for another big player in the New Zealand e-commerce landscape. “Ferret has no proposition and carries the stigma of the Telecom brand, the big retailers are bound to support the high cost of their retail networks as opposed to online models, and the cost of keeping up with online technology has small companies looking for a way to get into this channel without the hassle and the cost.”

The company is effectively working as a bank, underwriting its deals. Perweek Consumer Finance has a relationship with the National Bank.

Terpstra has an engineering background but when he left university in 2000 he joined SAS’s graduate programme. He moved to BNZ CreditCards as analytical marketing manager, then to NZ Post Group as innovation manager, where he was involved in e-commerce research. The experience gained led to the development of Perweek.

“It’s the risk assessment technology that is the real value,” he says.

“We’re currently raising capital to accelerate market growth and to develop in-store portal technology.”

The core system is built in the PHP programming language. The site was built by Silverstripe, from the Wellington incubator programme, and the back-end consumer finance contracts are managed through FinPower, in Napier.

Terpstra is planning to launch into Australia next year, possibly with a partner. He is projecting sales of $5 million, including Australia, in 2009, with target sales in 2010 of $30 million.

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Tags risk managementphprisk assessmentonline tradingperweek

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