This post gives commentary to a graphical image of the Bartercard operation detailing the various aspects of what is essentially a CON . . . a business based upon serious deception. Bartercard is best described as an insolvent Ponzi scheme with massive undisclosed debt, and unethical conduct directly flowing from their leadership. The numbers below refer to the green numbers on the graphic – best to click to view the large JPG image (878k).
Bartercard has serious ethical & performance issues, both historical and current. Except for its aggression; its capacity to shamelessly self-promote & propensity to deceive, not one aspect of the operation is worthy of note. Put simply . . . it is a con.
a) Bartercard is a poorly performing company and always has been for it is based on opportunism and greed that has ruled over ethical long-term relationship building. It is thus built on a POOR FOUNDATION. Making a small bad business bigger does not make a better business – it simply makes a bigger bad business.
b) It has a CHRONIC REPUTATION in the Australasian region and has therefore had to launch in the USA and UK to avoid the negativity in the marketplace of its inception
c) Bartercard’s DISASTROUS TRACK RECORD in most areas it has entered will cause it continued strategic difficulties.
d) Staff RETENTION PROBLEMS have beset the organisation much harder in the last few years as it has spiralled downwards.
e) Love him or hate him [rare was the former], founder Wayne Sharp was a leader. He set a vision and drove the business hard. Trevor Dietz, Tony Weise and Brian Hall do not have that same vision and leadership skills. Bartercard therefore lacks the LEADERSHIP critical to turning it around.
f) A Ponzi scheme requires increasing volumes in order to pay the people who are already part of the scheme. Bartercard’s core business model, while on the surface a traditional business barter exchange, is actually operated along the lines of a PONZI scheme – an ever-increasing liability in tax, trade debt and cash requirements just in order to maintain its existence. The recent IPO allocated a substantial portion of the incoming capital to debt and personal gain by the Directors.
3. Relationships with the Industry
a) Bartercard has spent the years 2013-2014 developing a ‘cosy’ relationship with IRTA which according to the Prospectus and a hastily prepared Media Release from IRTA was consummated in August 2014. This is effectively a buyout of a membership organisation and when the rubber hits the road [and it surely will] it will have serious ramifications for Bartercard’s reputation in the industry as well as backfiring on Bartercard’s representative on the IRTA Board, Paul Bolte and the IRTA Executive who facilitated the various deals.
b) Universal Currency has been unduly exposed by Bartercard’s leveraging their cosy relationship with the IRTA Executive. Substantial debt within UC has further increased; special conditions apply to their accounts and creditlines; their minimal repayment efforts and ultra-poor trading patterns are all a cause for major concern.
c) Growth through acquisition is a recognised method in many industries, however in the Trade Exchange industry it has proven problematic. Bartercard’s aggressiveness in stripping assets from an acquired exchange; its outrageous conduct in pre-purchase negotiations and its arrogant attitude to all people and businesses do not bode well for anyone associating with them – up, down or sideways.
d) The Barter software industry is a small one in which Bartercard plans to compete head-on supposedly with IRTA’s active endorsement. This is much more than simply a conflict of interest, it is an out-and-out attack on the entire industry. Their simplistic view of an ideal single software solution is naive and foolhardy, akin to trying to build bicycles to transport goods through the air and over the seas.
e) Bartercard is widely recognised as the worst operator in the industry. There is very good reason for their abysmal reputation.
Bartercard simply does not pay dividends [*how can it when it doesn’t make a profit?] and has treated its minor investors very poorly over many years. Even a relatively recent 1000:1 share dilution pales into insignificance in the their whole scheme of deceit! Undisclosed trade debt now into the hundreds of millions does not stop Director benefits nor change the fact that the business is not profitable and can never be profitable.
The bulk of the cashflow that funds the Bartercard beast is generated from non-trading activities. Bartercard does not make a trading profit, except on paper where the ‘doctored’ financials omit substantial trade debt!
5. Core Systems
The brand Bartercard has been shuffled into a new company BPS Technology Ltd (an asset strip) and Bucqi (a loyalty App) and Tess (their Trade Exchage software built upon what they call in-house, “Webturtle”) have been added to the mix. Both additions are unproven and are despite wild projections of grandeur are dubious at best and will most likely be commercial and strategic flops.
6. The Directors
Tony Dietz, Tony Wiese and Brian Hall are the principals who bought out founder Wayne Sharp. Their leadership smacks of opportunism, desperation and self-interest. Staff and Franchisee morale, profitability and turnover are all down under their watch.
Bartercard lives by deception and this is by design. No business actively concealing immoral conduct can claim any degree of ethics. It is widely known by ex-staff, competitors, ex-Franchisees, ex-EVERYBODY that the name Bartercard and the word ‘ethics’ do not go hand in hand.
Predatory commercial practices, ruthless aggression, cherry picking, incredible inflation are only the tip of the iceberg for a company totally dedicated to ‘creative’ business practices. While many other Trade Exchanges will bend the rules slightly, Bartercard will systemise immoral conduct, and maximise those opportunities.
Failure and Bartercard are synonymous, with a string of International disasters including Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, a notable failure in the UK and the spectacular Chapter 11 disaster in the USA.
The core Australian operations have been downsized and the second attempts to establish a UK and US presence have again been tarred with immoral conduct – Bartercard’s abuse of the Universal Currency creditline to present itself as an ethical company (for example) and Simon Barker’s admission of predatory conduct to IRTA over its recent rape and pillage of another UK trade exchange. In the 2014 BPS IPO deal, New Zealand sold their operation back at 50% of its supposed valuation. They were lucky!
Bartercard does not have a chequered history . . . it has a dark history, one fully in keeping with its character.
Bartercard is an insolvent operation, with its liabilities far exceeding its assets many times over. There is no conceivable way that it could ever trade out of its dilemma and must therefore conceal its massive trade liabilities or cease to exist. More than two decades of ‘house deficit spending’ has robbed the Members and GST/VAT tax scams have robbed the taxmen in multiple jurisdictions.
Bartercard’s massive off-balance debt, including aged and toxic debt is legendary with asset stripping, tunneling and the use of off-shore companies (i.e. Bermuda) prevalent.
Bartercard as it is presented by the Directors and senior staff is nothing less than a CON.
* I believe there may have been one or two very minor payouts in the last couple of decades.
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