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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Co-founder Brian Elrod speaks with the Times Free Press at the Text Request office on Monday, June 4, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

One of Chattanooga's fastest-growing technology companies is expanding into bill-paying services via text through a new partnership with a leading California-based conversational commerce platform as part of its efforts to double in size this year.

Text Request, the Chattanooga-based text messaging software business started in 2014, announced Tuesday a partnership with Authvia to provide text-to-pay services through the Text Request platform. The new offering, called Payments, enables organizations to request and collect secure payments through text messages.

"Our customers have always been able to use a link to pay, but this allows our customers to make payments via the text so it is a lot more streamlined for them," said Brian Elrod, co-founder and CEO of Text Request, in a phone interview with the Times Free Press.

Rob Reagan, the chief technology officer and one of the co-founders of Text Request, said the new partnership will allow existing and new Text Request clients to process payments securely through Authvia within the Text Request platform.

"Authvia's innovation around security and the ability to bring your own payment processor make them a clear leader in this space, and the perfect partner to bring this new feature to life," Reagan wrote in an announcement of the new partnership Tuesday. "Particularly since the pandemic started, businesses have been looking for more and better ways to engage their audiences virtually, including through contactless payments."

The first time that contacts receive a payment request, they click a link included in the request to securely enter their payment information. That information is saved for future requests, which are paid by texting back a four-digit confirmation code. Reagan said transactions are processed in real time.

"Eighty percent of customers who pay by text one time go on to pay by text every time," Authvia CEO and co-founder Chris Brunner wrote in a statement. "The brands we already provide payment services for are looking to expand their texting abilities. Text Request brings a wealth of messaging software power and expertise, and this partnership enables us to serve our users better, which empowers them to serve their customers better. It's a great relationship for everyone."

Payments is one of the new elements Text Request is counting on in 2022 to help double company revenues, which already exceeded $6 million last year, Elrod said. Last year, Text Request was included for the first time in the Deloitte Fast 500 list of growing technology companies. Text Request, which has about 35 employees at its Chattanooga headquarters, was one of only a half dozen tech companies in all of Tennessee on the list.

Last year, Text Request released new mobile apps, a new Chrome browser extension, health-privacy compliant texting and 15 new integrations with other major software platforms, among other improvements, Elrod said. The company expects to benefit this year in the mid-term elections with its ability to quickly text targeted political messages for campaigns across the country.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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