With nearly 1,000 clubs and 90,000 registered members across Australia, Swimming Australia oversees everything from grassroots community participation to elite swimmers representing the country (and themselves) on a global stage. Sports spending has continued to increase year over year in Australia, and sports organisations like Swimming Australia need to effectively manage transactions related to memberships, event tickets, and merchandise as the sport continues to grow.
Participants and fans rely on Swimming Australia’s official user portal, Swim Central, to manage their club sign-ups and event registrations and view swim meet results. Swim clubs use the portal to process payments for sign-ups, registrations, and merchandise for all swim-related events in Australia. As the managing body for the sport, Swimming Australia is responsible for facilitating payments for every club. This includes:
- Accepting various customer payment methods for events and merchandise
- Managing and paying out money to swim clubs
- Making continuous improvements to its platform to improve the user experience
Swimming Australia needed to embed payments into its platform to support hundreds of business entities – from 30-person swim clubs to national teams – with different needs. Since many swim clubs are run by volunteers, it was important for the organisation to make payments and payouts simple and user-friendly, while also offering a more customised experience for larger organisations.
Managing payments across Australia required a system that was flexible enough to accommodate the wide variety of organisations in the Swimming Australia network. It turned to Stripe Payments to easily accept payments and move money between accounts. It combined this with Connect to integrate the payment process into the Swim Central account portal and make it easier to onboard new swim clubs to the platform.
Connect’s Custom tier gave Swimming Australia ability to manage its own connected accounts, so Stripe is invisible to individual account holders. Customisability was a key factor in the decision to choose Stripe over other payment processors. Connect allows the organisation to handle its own accounts and distribute payments to hundreds of entities with different needs and requirements, making Stripe more flexible than other providers Swimming Australia evaluated.
A universal system for managing payments and various clubs’ and organisations’ funds has given Swimming Australia the opportunity to view the entire sport’s ecosystem as one business and find new ways to sustain – and grow – the community. Historically, national sports have been funded primarily through government spending and corporate sponsorships, but more recently Swimming Australia has begun to explore e-commerce strategies to generate new revenue streams.
Facilitating transactions worth more than $20 million a year
Payments have helped Swimming Australia improve the experience for both clubs and their customers. With Stripe, the organisation can accept new payment types such as government sports vouchers, which help customers pay for swimming memberships. It’s also looking to expand its e-commerce business by offering additional products for sale at checkout. “If someone is purchasing entry to an event, we can suggest they also buy apparel from Swim Central that they’d otherwise buy from another supplier. It’s easier for them, and it helps support the organisation at the same time,” said Rohan Lawton, digital product owner at Swimming Australia. “I’m confident that Stripe will give us the best chance to fully leverage this new opportunity.”
Creating a more flexible payment management process for nearly 1,000 swim clubs
Aggregating nationwide payments with Connect means that Swimming Australia can help swim clubs across the country manage payouts processed by Stripe. The organisation uses Connect Custom to manage these payouts via API. Since most clubs and entities in the Swimming Australia ecosystem don’t have development teams, having an easy-to-use system was a priority. “Most of our clubs and entities that transact through Stripe probably aren’t aware of it and don’t need to be. It’s great that we can handle all of the onboarding for their club accounts and just have them tell us how often they want to receive their funds,” said Lawton.
With Connect, Swimming Australia has an overarching view of payment activity, and individual clubs are able to maintain complete control of when they receive their funds. A club can simply request payments from Swimming Australia, and its team can make an immediate change. “If a club comes to us and says they’d like to receive their funds weekly instead of daily or monthly, we can easily change that with Stripe Connect,” Lawton added. “That flexibility is especially important for smaller clubs.”
Planning for the future with growing online payments
Swimming Australia is laying a foundation for online payments as the sport grows. Offering participants and event attendees more payment types, such as direct debit or the ability to pay in instalments, brings new opportunities to engage with swimming to even more people. The organisation is hoping to implement Stripe Terminal and Tap to Pay to enable clubs to accept payments in person to make it even easier for their customers to pay for memberships or merchandise.
Connect is also helping the organisation expand its payment options for the clubs themselves. Currently, swim clubs can purchase entry for relay teams through Swim Central, but their payment options are limited to club credit cards (which most clubs don’t have) or a volunteer’s personal credit card. Swimming Australia plans to introduce a process where clubs can pay for event entry for full relay teams directly through Stripe.
The organisation is also using Stripe to expand internationally. Despite Swimming Australia being a national governing body, its goal is to expand Swim Central to other countries. By adding other managing organisations to the platform, Swimming Australia aims to create a more global, centralised platform for managing swimming transactions. As the platform grows to manage payments in other countries, Swimming Australia can rely on Stripe to process payments in more than 135 currencies to grow the sport across Australia and beyond.
I haven’t seen another platform that aligns with the sporting model of business the way Stripe does. It just works perfectly with the federated model of our industry.