4 minutes reading time (855 words)

Epik escrow or Escrow.com?

20190729_escrow When is an escrow service really Escrow?

I’ve been reading a thread on NamePros that got pretty heated when Jackson Elsegood from Escrow.com, Matt Barrie (Freelancer CEO – Escrow.com’s parent company) and Rob Monster from Epik became involved. I don’t normally like to get involved in these types of squabbles, but I thought for this one I’d make an exception.

I would like to first state a disclaimer, I use Epik as a registrar and have been very positive in posts about the services they provide. I also use Escrow.com and Escrow.com has been a long-time sponsor of Whizzbangsblog. Now for this blog post….

There is a BIG difference between saying you provide escrow services and being approved by a governmental authority to provide Escrow services. Why is this? The governmental body has the authority and mandate to audit a fully licensed escrow service to ensure they are not only behaving in a correct manner but have the resources to backup any problems. There are incredibly large penalties for companies that don’t abide by the rules.

Anyone can put a shingle out and claim to provide an escrow service….I could be wrong but I would think that it’s only a matter of time before the governmental authorities stop them from doing this. If the authorities don’t stop it then it makes a bit of a mockery of governmental oversight.

That being said, my understanding is that Escrow.com does have governmental approval while Epik is not approved by any governmental authority. Regardless of whether it makes sense for the government to be involved or not these seem to be the facts.

When Matt Barrie (Freelancer CEO) challenged Rob Monster (Epik) on the state of the cash in Epik’s balance sheet it was a very relevant question. The only thing that can back-up a failed Escrow transaction is cash….not lots of other assets as claimed by Rob. For a start, the other assets take time to sell and may not be enough to back up a failed transaction.

Should Matt have revealed information provided in confidence? Probably not, but in my opinion, in terms of the thread it should be viewed as more of a speeding ticket versus a bank robbery

Rob claimed that we should be concerned about Freelancer’s financial state of affairs. The big difference between Freelancer and Epik is that Freelancer is a public company that is audited and HAS access to the capital markets via it’s publicly traded shares.

Epik may have access to private capital but it does not have the same flexibility to support the balance sheet as Freelancer. What I’m really saying is you can not compare Epik and Freelancer/Escrow.com as they are completely different animals.

Escrow.com does a LOT of transactions and it’s clear that some customers have had a bad experience with them. It’s sad but that happens sometimes but what would be interesting to know is the ultimately resolution of the problems. Were they dealt with or not? If they weren’t addressed then I’m sure there is a process you can go through to address the issues via the governmental oversight…..with Epik, if there is a problem then you need to hope the private company is able to support your claims. There is NO external authority that you can go to that can force a resolution of any dispute.

So why isn’t Escrow.com a registrar? I can only surmise the reasons, but my guess is that to be truly providing an escrow service you can’t have ANY benefit into the future once the transaction has been completed. By being the registrar, you have the ongoing benefit of the domain being under your management. I would not be surprised if Escrow.com is prohibited from also becoming a registrar….even if it would make sense to do so.

The ultimate question that needs to be asked is why doesn’t Epik become a licensed escrow? I have no idea why they haven’t gone done this path as it would resolve a lot of the questions surrounding the service they provide. It could be that it’s a BIG capital cost and requires a lot of ongoing investment to manage it for almost every state in the USA…..but it could also be due to providing escrow services is actually a different business….and quite difficult.

I think this whole mess could be quickly resolved if Rob could answer whether they are licensed anywhere in the USA to provide Escrow services. This would provide a level of comfort for the users of the service and clarification to the entire domain industry. It’s a pretty easy question and one that should be answered with a “Yes” or a “No”.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, I use both Escrow.com and also Epik for different services and they both do a great job. I was a bit dismayed that in the rush to promote Epik’s escrow service that Rob felt it necessary to disparage Escrow.com in the thread. I always believe it’s best to compete with dignity and not personally attack someone that works for a competitor.

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Comments

Guest - Rob Monster on 29 July 2019
Reality check

Michael,

I suggest you read the entire NamePros thread.

On Friday, there was a completely unprompted and unsolicited provocation from Jackson Elsegood. My response, while not flattering, was cordial and factual.

In reality, I would be delighted for Freelancer to stay in business. However, their presumptive close that every marketplace should be licensed is complete nonsense.

As for your article here, I would expect a more balanced narrative from you. I realize that an Aussie-based sponsor might get a free pass. That's not journalism but so be it.

Regards,
Rob Monster
Founder and CEO
Epik.com

Michael, I suggest you read the entire NamePros thread. On Friday, there was a completely unprompted and unsolicited provocation from Jackson Elsegood. My response, while not flattering, was cordial and factual. In reality, I would be delighted for Freelancer to stay in business. However, their presumptive close that every marketplace should be licensed is complete nonsense. As for your article here, I would expect a more balanced narrative from you. I realize that an Aussie-based sponsor might get a free pass. That's not journalism but so be it. Regards, Rob Monster Founder and CEO Epik.com
mgilmour on 30 July 2019

I did read the entire NamePros thread and I think that Jackson asked a really important question that was in the interest of both the readers and also Escrow.com. Is the Epik escrow service licensed? Regardless of whether you believe if should be or not the fact is the government, in the interest of protecting consumers believes it does. The point I was raising was why not get registered and put the whole issue to rest?
Because I raise questions about your approach does not mean I'm against Epik. In fact, as I stated in my article I am actually very positive about Epik. Just for the record, there is no free pass for anyone on my blog....whether they are sponsors or not and as far as I'm concerned I'm dealing with a US company and not Freelancer.
I'm personally disappointed with that last dig at me and would have thought you were above that approach.

I did read the entire NamePros thread and I think that Jackson asked a really important question that was in the interest of both the readers and also Escrow.com. Is the Epik escrow service licensed? Regardless of whether you believe if should be or not the fact is the government, in the interest of protecting consumers believes it does. The point I was raising was why not get registered and put the whole issue to rest? Because I raise questions about your approach does not mean I'm against Epik. In fact, as I stated in my article I am actually very positive about Epik. Just for the record, there is no free pass for anyone on my blog....whether they are sponsors or not and as far as I'm concerned I'm dealing with a US company and not Freelancer. I'm personally disappointed with that last dig at me and would have thought you were above that approach.
Epik on 30 July 2019
Domain Marketplaces are not licensed for a reason

The entire thrust of this special edition article is that you apparently think domain marketplaces should be licensed. They are not licensed and that is a good thing. The idea that a domain marketplace would willingly subject itself to non-obligatory licensure across every state and every nation is just folly.

When it comes to clearing domain transactions, the domain industry needs more viable options not less. Specific to the the bloated, loss-making and undercapitalized Escrow.com model, assuming they can right their fiscal ship, that platform can be used for cars and watches. As for domain industry, we have better options.

As for your personal motivation to write this article, I don't judge you though am similarly disappointed. As I see it, the "beast system" will be hear soon enough. In the meantime, there is really no need for anyone to sell out to it voluntarily when the actual LAW is both clear and fully adequate.

The entire thrust of this special edition article is that you apparently think domain marketplaces should be licensed. They are [i]not[/i] licensed and that is a good thing. The idea that a domain marketplace would willingly subject itself to non-obligatory licensure across every state and every nation is just folly. When it comes to clearing domain transactions, the domain industry needs more viable options not less. Specific to the the bloated, loss-making and undercapitalized Escrow.com model, assuming they can right their fiscal ship, that platform can be used for cars and watches. As for domain industry, we have better options. As for your personal motivation to write this article, I don't judge you though am similarly disappointed. As I see it, the "beast system" will be hear soon enough. In the meantime, there is really no need for [i]anyone[/i] to sell out to it [i]voluntarily[/i] when the actual LAW is both clear and fully adequate.
mgilmour on 31 July 2019

A couple of points:
1. It's a blog and not a special edition article.....but that's a good idea for the future!
2. I don't believe marketplaces should be licensed.
3. I do believe marketplaces that say they provide an escrow service SHOULD be licensed. My understanding is that it's a legal obligation to be licensed so I'm unsure how a company can claim to be providing escrow services without the a license. It may not be a nice process but it's the law.

A couple of points: 1. It's a blog and not a special edition article.....but that's a good idea for the future! 2. I don't believe marketplaces should be licensed. 3. I do believe marketplaces that say they provide an escrow service SHOULD be licensed. My understanding is that it's a legal obligation to be licensed so I'm unsure how a company can claim to be providing escrow services without the a license. It may not be a nice process but it's the law.
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