First Data Corp. has agreed to offer its credit card-issuer clients all 1,400 of them the services of CollectionsX.com Inc., a fellow Atlanta company that auctions portfolios of distressed debt.
CollectionsX opened its Web site for business in September and has auctioned several hundreds of million of dollars of face-value accounts, said Patrick Beharelle, president. CollectionsX usually gets a commission of 3% to 5%.
First Data will offer to extract distressed portfolio data from the issuers master file to send directly to CollectionsX. That will let issuers sell debt more easily and quickly, said a spokeswoman for First Data, which helped fund CollectionsX through its investment in the CyberStarts venture fund.
Mr. Beharelle said his auction site has been successful but that it only has three salespeople. The partnership with First Data, which was announced Thursday, will give CollectionsX the extra reach of the payment processing giants sales force.
Around 100 companies have registered with CollectionsX as bidders or sellers. Of those, 15 are credit card companies.
CollectionsX bidder clients can choose to bid only on the portion of a portfolio they would like to purchase. Sellers then have the option of selling their portfolios in pieces to the highest bidders or as a whole after looking at all the bids.
We are the only ones who have ever held a simultaneous auction, where a bidder can bid on pieces or the whole portfolio, Mr. Beharelle said. You may be winning on the Texas segment, but lose overall.
He said the opportunity for bidders to parse out pieces of a portfolio for sale makes his firm unique among portfolio brokers and makes for a more efficient sale process. That doesnt exist in the offline world.
The auctioneer will soon expand its offerings to distressed-portfolio contingency placement using the same piecemeal approach. In contingency placements, agencies bid for the right to collect on a charged-off portfolio for a given length of time, usually keeping a portion of the amount they collect.
Agencies will get to collect accounts they are good at collecting, Mr. Beharelle said.
Smaller agencies could bid on the piece of a portfolio in an area where they have expertise. For example, Mr. Beharelle said, they might specialize in rural debtors in a particular region.
Weve rolled the tanks on to the beach, he said. Sales is the beachhead, and the whole collections industry is the continent. That is where we get into contingency placement.