A New Zealander behind a NZX-listed company which helps churches tackle homelessness in the United States has challenged business communities to "dream big" and aim for global success.

Speaking at the Icehouse fifth anniversary celebration dinner in Napier, Pushpay independent chairman Bruce Gordon said businesses should be looking to innovate and radically redefine industry by replacing paper trails with technology.

Established seven years ago, Pushpay is now one of the world's fastest-growing SAS (software-as-a-service) companies.

"What helped us take this idea for mobile payments into what is now a US$1billion in market capital, was first of all the ambition to dream big. So, I want to put that challenge to the room.

Advertisement

"We chose a market that had a big total addressable market because we wanted to have a global business. We were unashamedly a global business.

"We chose a market that was under-served - that might be quite hard to find, possibly.

"But with the advent of technology, I would argue that you can radically redefine practical any industry - if there's a paper-based industry running right now, it's inefficient."

Gordon pointed out the company was New Zealand-owned but it was very US-centric in its dealings.

The company had now reached US$80m in recurring revenue, having about 5 per cent of the US faith-based market.

"What we've built is a full eco-system for churches. We've created whole industries that didn't exist before and that's allowed us to position as number one in the market in a very short time."

The company started off just offering a payment mechanism, allowing people to charge their "giving" to a credit or debit card, once their details were loaded into the system so they could give money at the touch of a button.

"Then we put recurring [giving options] in and our customers' income jumped another 3 or 4 per cent - just by putting recurring giving in. So, anyone who can't get to church on Sunday because of a snow storm is still giving.

That also had a positive impact on local communities, where the churches were raising money for social programmes, such as those to tackle homelessness.

"What we've been able to develop, is a whole lot of social media-style engagement tools with the churches that often accumulates in a payment or gift but not always. Sometimes, it's simply engaging them with the church and the community.

"It's not about raising money anymore but actually enabling communities."

Gordon said the Pushpay system worked by charging a subscription to churches that allowed them to implement Pushpay so their congregations could give tithes.

The company had recently agreed a deal with the US's biggest church, which attracted 52,000 people to its weekly service.

At the company's last quarterly update Pushpay's customer base included 55 of the US's 100 largest churches and had generated $3b of giving payments.

"So, that's flowing straight to communities. It's very powerful for senior management to stand up with the team and say hey your hard work has meant US$3b - and that will go close to US$5b this year - flowed straight to communities.

"It's very powerful to be able say so-and-so in California has just opened a foodbank and service because the extra 10 per cent revenue generated by implementing Pushpay. It's super cool."