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inLeague News: Summer 2020


inLeague in 2020: Doubling Down on a New Team

With registration down across the country, we are unlikely to see year-over-year growth for the first time since our founding in 2002. Consequently, we've decided to double the size of our development team and dedicate more resources than ever to rebuilding the core of our software and our mobile app.

Huh?

This strategy is enabled by some planning and good fortune in several respects:
  • We anticipated the opportunity to once again pursue new AYSO regions in 2021 and wanted to showcase everything we've learned in 18 years of league management. Development of our new inLeague application continues and we are aiming for an early 2021 release.
  • We're ordinarily conservative about spending your money, and we've been saving for a rainy day.
  • A sizable portion of our business has nothing to do with youth sports and has not been impacted by COVID; we're "re-purposing" that revenue to support youth sports for this year because we believe that our kids and our volunteers are going to need to be on the field more than ever in 2021!
Meet our new team members!


Linnae Kraemer joined inLeague back in April as inLeague's first dedicated Front End Developer. She's here in Austin, just across town from inLeague HQ -- at least, we think so, since we haven't seen her in person since she started!

Tim Badolato came aboard in June and no piece of inLeague's code is safe: front-end, back-end, split-end, or dead-end, Tim has seen it all and is hard at work on the next-generation inLeague platform from his office in Lake Ozark, MO.

See more about Linnae, Tim, and the rest of the inLeague team on our About Us page!

Authorize.net / Paysafe Account Refund Windows

Apply for ECC Today (again)


Due to a spike in credit card fraud early in the pandemic, Authorize.net suspended the Expanded Credit Capabilities program that allows for refunds past 120 days. No official announcement has been made regarding reinstatement, but we have seen an approval come in for one account and have been encouraged to have our leagues that need these extended refund windows re-apply for the program by completing the ECC Account Application and uploading it through their Authorize.net account "my cases" support interface. Please be sure to reference that these refund windows are a normal part of AYSO league operations and that Authorize.net has approved ECC applications for similar accounts.

Note that ECC is enabled on a per-account and not a per-customer basis, such that if your league has more than one Authorize.net account (or gateway), you will need to apply for each account.

This solution remains undesirable in the long run, both because of the uncertainty surrounding ECC and because ECC has risk-related problems of its own even when it is activated.  inLeague has determined that the partnership with Paysafe and Authorize.net is not sustainable for our leagues or our business.

Payments: inLeague Partners with Stripe


In 2012, inLeague partnered with Flagship Merchant Services as our recommended vendor for credit card processing. This selection was made on the basis of the customer service they offered to our constituent leagues. It was, and remains, an industry staple to obfuscate the actual cost of card processing, whether in monthly fees or per-transaction costs. Flagship was the "least bad" of several candidates, and they attended to your needs and ours promptly and courteously. 

Flagship was acquired by Paysafe, and subsequent interactions both with inLeague and with many of our leagues demonstrated that the level of service we enjoyed is no longer available. More importantly, Paysafe assured us in 2019 that our leagues would be exempt from the normal 120 day time limit for refunds that applied to the Authorize.net payment gateway. This turned out not to be the case even prior to COVID-19, and while we have some early signs that Authorize.net may be restoring the account feature that allows for refunds after 120 days (see above), we have been unable to communicate effectively with Authorize.net about this program and our business requirements. Moreover, both Paysafe and Authorize.net are large, impersonal finance companies with a "take it or leave it" attitude towards boutique providers like us and non-profit sports leagues alike. Given the importance of payment processing to what we do, we wanted a partner that understood our business and whose mission was centered on software platforms.

inLeague interviewed a half-dozen payment processors, and no-one came close to Stripe in terms of functionality, responsiveness, and simplicity. We made a sizable investment to support Authorize.net and were not eager to re-start that process, but Stripe has transformed our experience of dreading any interaction with payment providers to excitement about the future and the sophistication of their capacity to serve both our leagues and our software.

Having said that, we're well aware that you have just been through a payment provider transition and that it is no small request to ask our leagues to do so again. This is on us: we accepted Paysafe's recommendation in 2019 on the basis of our experience with their predecessors, and following that advice cost us a great deal of time and resources. Part of that cost is borne by you. We know a lot better now, and we're determined to improve your experience -- starting with the ease of the transition.

We've provided some more detail about the transition to Stripe in our user guide, but here are a few things to expect:
  • No time limits to refunds
  • No monthly fees of any kind; if you don't use your account for a while, you don't pay anything
  • League accounts are "connected' to Stripe through inLeague: while you have a dedicated account manager, we can facilitate on-boarding ourselves and "own the process" to a much greater extent
  • Superior reporting, logging, and dashboard available to each league
  • Automatic updates when card numbers change due to expiration or cancellation from fraud
  • Future capability for payments through the next-gen inLeague mobile app supporting Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Future capability for issuing charges or refunds directly through Stripe while still having the relevant data recorded within inLeague
  • inLeague-negotiated preferential processing rates over Stripe's regular flat fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction
Timeline
inLeague is building Stripe support into all of our payment mechanisms and anticipates that the process will be completed in mid- to late August. We will make an announcement as soon as we are ready to begin the transition.

Support for Authorize.net / Paysafe accounts will be retired effective November 1, 2020. Refunds may be processed after that cutoff, but no new transactions may be submitted.

How to Sign Up With Stripe

While full support on the inLeague side is still a couple of weeks away, you can begin the signup process today at no charge so that you are ready to accept Stripe payments as soon as inLeague publishes our Stripe Update.

Have your Regional Commissioner or Treasurer contact inLeague Support at support@inleague.io and send us the email address you would like to use as your primary account contact. Additional contacts may be added after the account is opened.

AYSO Integration for Fall 2020 and 2021

Background Checks & Volunteer Membership - Enforcement Postponed to 9/1/2020

The AYSO Volunteer Membership Program enforces the requirement for AYSO Volunteer registration and the Sterling Volunteers background check for every active volunteer, effective August 1st of the Membership Year.  

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the Fall season in many parts of the country, we have received approval from AYSO National to postpone enforcement of this program to September 1, 2020. However, please keep in mind that, while most applications are approved automatically, the National CVPA staff is required to adjudicate many results manually every year. If everyone waits until the day before the first weekend of the season to release volunteer applications in their queue to Sterling, results may come in within 24 hours, or they may take up to two weeks. You can alleviate potential bottlenecks by releasing volunteers you know will be active at some point during MY2020 -- whether the Fall or the Spring -- to limit amount of last-minute review that is sent to the National CVPA team.

inLeague staff cannot waive the volunteer membership requirement and are not informed of specifics for individual background checks. Questions regarding specific volunteers should be directed to the National CVPA staff at cvpa@ayso.org. 

COVID Waivers and E-Signature

Official AYSO COVID-19 waiver language was added to the player and volunteer registration e-signature form used for all AYSO registrations on June 19th.  There is not yet a mechanism to re-sign registrations completed prior to June 19th. Whether one will be provided will depend on how many programs are able to play this Fall and whether our resources are spent supporting them or else adding additional refund capabilities. If you would like to proceed in the meantime with a Google Docs or Formsite form and just need a list of registrations from before June 19th, contact inLeague Support and we will be happy to assist you.

AYSO National and the Future

Where 2020 is concerned, inLeague and AYSO are no different than the rest of the world: none of us are doing what we thought we'd be doing, and everyone is making compromises to navigate the uncertainty as best they are able. 

inLeague had initially been slated to consult with AYSO National on the future of their technology platforms. That project was shelved, though we remain in regular contact with the National Office. It is possible that AYSO will be making significant changes to its back-end systems in 2021 even so, but it is not yet obvious to us what those changes will be. We remain confident that AYSO is committed to supporting third party vendors in the Region Management space and we have every intention of continuing the investment we have made into their technology ecosystem over the last two years. 

Whether life returns to business as usual for AYSO regions, the national office, and inLeague next month or next year, our mission remains the same and we are grateful for your business and support as well as excited to demonstrate our largest software update in our history early next year.
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