TECHINASIA: Freelancer, the Australia-based platform that connects freelancing professionals with small businesses around the world, today announced it’s diversifying with the acquisition of US-based epayments service Escrow.com for US$7.5 million.
“All major platforms have payments,” explained Christopher Koch, Freelancer’s deputy CFO, to Tech in Asia. Citing examples like eBay’s Paypal and Alibaba’s Alipay, Koch said that the firm’s biggest ever acquisition allows Freelancers to “fit into that landscape.”
While “escrow” as a system is well known as a safer form of online payment wherein an intermediary holds the cash until the buyer is satisfied that the transaction is complete, Escrow.com has made this its speciality since it was established in 1999. It’s used by major clients such as eBay, GoDaddy, and AutoTrader. Last year it handled gross payment volume of US$265 million.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. Lots of network effects,” explains Koch of the deal. He adds that Freelancer itself made use of the Escrow service last year to transfer millions of dollars when the Australian firm acquired WarriorForum for US$3.2 million.
“Escrow.com is a very high standard of real escrow,” Koch added. The new acquisition will be added as one of many payment options for the 15 million users on Freelancer.
Freelancer is up against an array of global and Asia-oriented rivals, such as Elance-oDesk, Sourceguru, Sribu (disclosure: East Ventures invests in both Sribu and Tech in Asia. See our ethics page for more information), and Projects.co.id.
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