If you’re not an endurance athlete, you may not have heard of Athlinks. But if you’re a runner, and especially if you’ve made it to, say, the level of the Boston Marathon or New York City Marathon, you’ll know a lot about Athlinks and perhaps a little about its affiliated companies, Life Time and ChronoTrack.
Three years ago, all was going well atAthlinks, the social network for endurance athletes. At a company office in Louisville, Colorado, Sean Walkinshaw’s team was seeing explosive growth in obstacle course racing. Not just the number of racers interested in each event, but also the number and types of races — each one more colorful than the next, with race stretches through mud and swamps and leaps over creeks and sand dunes. Could Athlinks and ChronoTrack assist with registration and race timing behind the Dirty Kanza, the Leadville 100, and the Chicago Beast and Sprint Weekend? The requests were coming faster than top runners could sprint.
Sean Walkinshaw, Senior Product Manager for Payments at Athlinks
It was an excellent problem to have, says Walkinshaw, Athlinks’ Senior Product Manager for Payments. “The interest in obstacle course racing has just skyrocketed,” says Walkinshaw. “We've been seeing a boom in our marketplace, and Athlinks has been there to support those athletes all along the way.”
"The interest in obstacle course racing has just skyrocketed. We've been seeing a boom in our marketplace."
Then, the requests got trickier. Would Athlinks and ChronoTrack be able to support races in Slovenia, Bosnia, and Switzerland? One obstacle was how to process payments at such far-flung events, and how to let athletes pay for races using their preferred methods. Runners in the Philippines, for example, wanted to sign up for events using Dragonpay. In South Africa? iPay. Walkinshaw and his team were struggling to figure out how to accommodate. Then they came across Adyen, which comes with hundreds of local payment methods built in.
“Adyen afforded us the opportunity to reach new athlete groups through those local payment methods,” he says. “It essentially let us get into 40 new markets around the globe.”
Another hurdle: when entering new markets, sometimes Athlinks wasn’t prepared for the hazards in each local payments landscape. Athlinks’ Director of Engineering Beau Scott says that last August, the company branched into Mexico but quickly noticed thatchargebacksthere were soaring. At the peak of the problem, Athlinks’ chargeback rate in Mexico hit 24%. But Scott’s crew reached out to Adyen to walk through some risk analysis, and by mid-March, the rate dropped from 24% to around one percent.
Beau Scott, Director of Engineering at Athlinks
In addition to smoothing global transitions and reducing risk, Adyen has helped boost Athlinks’ authorization rates and improve operational efficiencies behind the scenes. The main reason? Athlinks no longer has to negotiate with new payments-related vendors and partners in every market.
“Adyen helps us technically because we get to work with them as an all-in-one stop for payments,” says Walkinshaw. “It really is a plug-and-play option.”
Scott, the engineering director, says the fact that Adyen handles the payments means his company is free to focus on its core strength — helping athletes register for events and get race results. “We're not payment experts and we don't want to be,” says Scott. “We don't have to sit there and question, you know, what are the new regulations coming up? Are we going to be ready for it? We have a peer in Adyen to help inform us and guide as we expand into new markets.”