Leveraging financial services to turn local animators global

Photo by Sarath P Raj

Animation Vertigo is an external development company that specialises in motion capture animation for film, video games and TV. According to its owner and CEO Marla Rausch, the company was founded in response to industry practices of hiring and training animators for projects, but then releasing them once they was done, meaning that new projects would have to start from scratch.

“Therefore,” she recalled, “it became a question of – what if there was a company you could turn to, knowing the quality and the people would always be there, and you only paid when you needed them?”

While Marla is based in California, the company production is based in Pasig, the Philippines, reflecting the commitment to bringing international recognition to Filipino artists. “As such, our first hires were in the Philippines and since then, our team has grown to more than 50 artists,” explains Rausch. However, this led to challenges managing finances and payroll, hurdles which were overcome by working with Payoneer, a financial service provider.

SMEhorizon speaks with Marla Rausch on the pain points of running a business with a global reach, and the technologies that help bring the business past them towards new possibilities.

What were the primary pain points that led Animation Vertigo to adopt Payoneer’s services?

In the Philippines, one of the hardest challenges is trying to find an easy means to be able to pay, get paid and receive payments. One would think that banks would make it simple­ and straightforward, particularly because the Philippines is the land of business process outsourcing (BPO). Ideally, there should be a wealth of alternatives solutions, however the converse is true.  Our agency uses Payoneer USD to send funds to our bank account here in the Philippines for our local payroll.

As we continuously look to explore new avenues to increase revenue, Payoneer’s flexibility and  global reach ensures that we do not have to seek alternative payment solutions should and whenever we chose to expand globally. Overall, its accessibility, transparency and traceability in cross-border payments made them a reliable partner for our local and cross-border payments.

Could you discuss some of the limitations Animation Vertigo faced with previous financial services? How did these drawbacks influence your decision to switch to Payoneer?

In the Philippines, the challenges are face are largely due to the inadequate financial infrastructure and limited access to financing. Banks and financial institutions often have strict requirements, making it difficult for start-ups to access loans. Payoneer offers a very straightforward and user-friendly payments solution for us to make transactions between countries with a reasonable cost – something that is quite hard to find in the Philippines.

Could you share some specific examples of how Payoneer has enabled Animation Vertigo to optimise your finances, and/or address the pain points you experienced before?

Payoneer has been a game-changer for us. We have many daily transactions with clients based in the US, and Payoneer makes it as easy for these clients to send payments as it would be to do so locally to another receiver in the US.

With the use of our US virtual receiving account, payments arrive in the Philippines quickly and we can also track and trace transactions, ultimately allowing us to focus on our business growth without worrying about the cross-border transaction and the conversion fee.

Payoneer’s platform is also able to handle multiple currencies seamlessly, simplifying currency conversions and allowing our clients to accept payments in various currencies and automatically convert it into their preferred settlement currency with favourable rates. This feature heavily streamlines the payment process for our users, eliminating confusion and reducing costs associated with currency exchange where possible. 

As Animation Vertigo is looking to expand its services to more parts of the world, ease of payments are a crucial element of facilitating this growth.

What were the key technical challenges Animation Vertigo encountered during the initial phases of using Payoneer? How were these challenges addressed to ensure a smooth implementation?

During the initial phases of implementing a payments platform, companies commonly face technical challenges such as integrating diverse payment methods, ensuring compliance with security standards, managing scalability to accommodate transaction volume fluctuations, and synchronizing data across various systems. We faced these similar challenges.

These challenges are often addressed through thorough planning, leveraging Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for seamless integration with existing systems, implementing robust security measures, utilising cloud-based infrastructure for scalability, and establishing effective communication channels between our company and our platform team.

What technologies or innovations does Animation Vertigo plan to adopt in the future? How do you see these spurring your agency’s growth?

I see Animation Vertigo changing and adapting again. Our clients’ needs are everchanging. Technology is changing. There are constant and evolving discussions around 3D animation, AR and VR – with the advent of AI, we are seeing increased content and the rise of new platforms. The technology is changing, new platforms are being created so our clients look at new alternatives to doing their content.

In that regard, I think in the next five to ten years, it is going to be yet another period of exciting growth for Animation Vertigo.