As the NIL space continues to grow, more student-athletes and brands are participating in deals. This influx in partnerships is bringing attention to one major problem for both athletes and businesses — payments.
Payment Labs focuses on solving a gap in how businesses pay individuals. With their software, individuals are paid fast, compliantly, and efficiently.
Now, they’re looking to bridge that gap in the NIL space.
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A holistic platform
Payment Labs originated as a solution for gaming and E-Sports. Amateur athletes weren’t receiving prize money in an efficient manner — with payouts happening anywhere from 30 days to nine months after winners were announced. Payment Labs formed to address that problem, reducing that waiting period down to weeks or even days.
A lot of platforms focus on business to business payments. Others are meant for peer to peer payments. There aren’t as many options for businesses looking to pay individuals, which is the problem that student-athletes and brands face when conducting deals.
“We try to be a holistic platform,” Han Park, Payment Labs CEO, told The NIL Deal in a recent interview. “Businesses can confidently use our platform and know that just by giving us the payee’s email and the amount that needs to be paid, we handle all the backend administration.”
The NIL space is experiencing rapid growth. While the largest deals dominate headlines, most NIL deals are on a smaller scale. The student-athletes on the receiving end of these deals usually don’t have talent or management that facilitates payments for them.
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“Oftentimes, student-athletes don’t know what it means to receive these types of payments, especially when it comes down to taxes,” says Park. “And so a lot of what we want to do for the athletes is really educate them.”
Park explains how the platform makes tax compliance easy for student-athletes.
“Our onboarding works very similarly to a questionnaire set,” says Park. “It creates a pathway that replaces the complicated tax forms that currently exist with a more easy and intuitive option.”
‘As simple as possible’
Payment Labs features two different products.
Prize Payments is used to pay out global prize winners. MALLO is used for business to person payouts, which is the category that NIL deals fall under.
Businesses looking to pay athletes only need to provide Payment Labs with the recipient’s email address. The payee portal guides the student-athlete through the entire onboarding process and tax forms, ensuring that all the right information is provided for a seamless payment.
“Brands, agencies, and companies that need to pay the athletes are mired by all these complications related to compliance and getting the tax information and even proper banking information,” Park said. “We’re still seeing traditional ways of collecting information, where businesses are sending out forms over email. They get that information back and sometimes it’s filled out incorrectly.”
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This issue is what can cause many payments to be delayed, a frustrating experience for both student-athletes and businesses. Athletes who are expecting quick payments are finding out that the process is taking longer than expected because they may have entered incorrect information. Businesses are forced to start the entire process over when they see that the payment gets returned.
“Our platform tries to minimize those types of mistakes in real time,” Park added. “The idea here is that you minimize onboarding errors from the athlete by trying to be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. But on the payor side, when they submit a list of emails and amounts, they’re assured that we’re going to take care of the payments as soon as we can.”
A range of payment methods
The UX/UI design of Payment Labs makes it easy for less experienced individuals to navigate a payment platform.
“To break down our value propositions, they’re really tax compliance, speed of payments, and ease of use,” Gregory Kim, advisor at Payment Labs, told The NIL Deal. “When you’re 18 to 25 years old, you may or may not have a lot of experience and knowledge about some of these things. Payment Labs makes it as simple as possible.”
International athletes want to cash in on NIL deals, too. With Payment Labs’ MALLO product, they make it possible to pay athletes who have international bank accounts and need to abide by foreign tax regulations.
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“A lot of the more legacy solutions out there are typically US and North America focused, whereas we can help anyone pay anyone, anywhere across different payment methods in 180 countries,” says Kim.
Even student-athletes who don’t have bank accounts can still accept payments with the help of Payment Labs.
“We offer a range of payment methods,” Park concluded. “Some athletes are unbanked or they don’t have a financial account to receive the payments. They usually are familiar with other payment platforms like PayPal or Venmo — or prepaid cards — so we just give them a lot more options, because they choose how they want to get paid.”