Credit Unions & Fintech Firms: A Great Partnership Opportunity

Credit Unions and Fintech Firms Partner Up
Is Your Credit Union Keeping Up with Modern Technology?

Seventy-nine percent of credit union members would leave their credit union for a financial technology (fintech) firm for convenience and easy access to services.

If you are a credit union, this figure should scare you. But don’t jump to any hasty conclusions just yet — you don’t have to invest a billion dollars in new technology. You can compete with larger financial institutions even if you don’t have the same access to funds.

You do have options. At REPAY, we empower credit unions to enhance the member experience. Our real-time payment technology solutions enable credit unions to provide faster, more streamlined digital service offerings.

Buy, Build, or Partner

Why build something brand new when you can partner or buy?

Banks and credit unions have been dealing with the rise of fintech by choosing one of three options: buy, build, or partner. A few large institutions have purchased smaller fintech disruptors and made them their own. For instance, SunTrust bought FirstAgain and rebranded it as SunTrust’s online lending arm, Lightstream.  Other banks have chosen to build their technology, as evidenced when Goldman Sachs introduced Marcus, its online banking service.

While buying or building new technology can work for large financial institutions, smaller establishments have chosen another route – partnership. Many credit unions are in a place where partnering with a fintech firm makes the most sense, regardless of how much capital they’re willing to spend on new technology.

This Forbes piece describes how most credit unions spend a similar percentage of assets (0.42%) on new technology, as compared to a group of nine mega- and regional banks. Credit unions only spend 12% less than the megabanks do, the difference due to their smaller size. However, credit unions can use that smaller size to their advantage by remaining agile and adaptable to ever-changing consumer demands.

As this PYMNTS.com article states, fintech firms “aren’t an adversarial force in the market for credit unions. Rather they are potential partners for filling the gaps in service offerings.” And we couldn’t agree more. Each side brings something valuable to the table.

  • Credit unions foster a much higher level of trust among their members when compared to banks and their customers. Credit unions also boast a much higher satisfaction rate than do most other financial institutions.
  • Fintech firms bring new technology and innovation, allowing members to make payments faster, apply for loans online, and transact business around the clock.

When the two partner up, your credit union runs in a more modern, efficient, and agile manner thanks to the introduction of new technology.

Fintech Helps Answer Your Most Common Questions

A partnership with a fintech business means you can use the most advanced technology to streamline service offerings. You can give your members better answers to their most common questions:

  • Can I apply for a mortgage with my credit union?
    • Why, of course, you can! And now, you can apply online, seamlessly submit documentation, and manage your loan payments on our mobile app.
  • Can I use my credit union for business?
    • Definitely! Not only can you open a business account, but you can also process customer payments. You can also text us for service and access your account 24/7.
Credit Unions and Fintech Firms Are Better Together

Well-run credit unions do not threaten fintech firms. They don’t want to be credit unions, and they rarely seek banking licenses. However, because fintech firms often specialize in a few specific services, it makes sense they would want to fill those solution gaps. Credit unions, on the other hand, are always looking for ways to provide better technology to their members. Therefore, a partnership between a fintech firm and a credit union is an ideal scenario, thereby providing all members with both cutting-edge technology and premier customer service.

In future articles, we are going to examine issues like technological trends for credit unions and how staying small and agile is an advantage in a market of banking giants. If you are curious about how the most advanced payment technologies can help your credit union grow, contact us to request a demo.

Speed of Payments: Which Payment Method is Fastest?

When people consider adding payment processing to their business operations, their first thought is credit and debit cards quickly followed by ACH and check processing. The truth is, there are a lot of options out there, and they all come with their own unique benefits.

While digital payment methods, such as digital wallets and near field communication (NFC) payments, are growing in popularity, the three primary non-cash payment methods are credit/debit cards, ACH, and physical checks. It’s sensible for businesses to offer multiple payment methods – it’s a convenience for customers and ultimately means more payments and fewer delinquencies for the business.

But of the three most common methods, which one is the fastest?

ACH is Getting Faster

If you are a B2B business, your payments program has to include ACH processing. In a 2018 Statista survey, 53% of survey respondents identified ACH as the most preferred B2B payment method in North America.

The good news is ACH processing is faster than checks, especially with the arrival of same day funding. Same day ACH lets businesses collect funds faster and reduces the risk of returned ACH transactions due to insufficient funds. If payments are made before the cutoff time, the funds are available in about 3-4 hours, no later than 5pm EST that same day. If the transaction is processed after the cut off time, funds are available the next banking day by 9am RDFI (receiving depository financial institution) local time. Of course, there are exceptions. High-value transactions above $25,000 are not yet eligible for same day funding, but NACHA recently passed a rule that will increase the per-transaction dollar limit for same day ACH transactions from $25,000 to $100,000 effective March 20, 2020. Another important thing to note is ACH transactions can’t be processed on banking holidays when the Federal Reserve Bank is closed.

Checks

Although checks are still around and popular, they were by far the least preferred payment method in the survey. There’s really no surprise here, thanks to several reasons, including:

  • Travel Time: if physical checks are mailed, 3-5 days are wasted before the payment even begins to be processed.
  • Resource Drain: a person must handle the checks, which takes away from other duties and responsibilities. In order to maintain good financial controls and prevent embezzlement, a second person usually deposits or posts the checks.
  • Process Time: whether you receive or send them, it takes time and money to cut, mail and process the checks. Small businesses can lose between $4-20 processing a check.

So how long does it take a check to clear? It’s a good question and no one seems to know for sure. The biggest variable is the bank because every bank’s policy is different. When it comes to checks, two banks are involved – the merchant’s bank and the consumer’s bank. Best case scenario, funds become available 24-48 hours after the check is deposited, but it can sometimes take much longer. Even with remote check deposit, banks still place a hold on the funds.

According to PYMNTS.com, checks are still around because they meet three main criteria for businesses:

  1. Checks move money from one entity to another.
  2. They allow data and documents to travel along with the payment (for proper tracking, diligence, accounting, and taxes).
  3. Businesses can develop workflows around them.

While checks are a prominent form of payment, their dominance is shrinking due to their resource requirements and time constraints.

Card Payments

Merchants who accept card payments are generally funded for those transactions within 24 to 48 hours – much faster than the funding time for most paper check scenarios. The settlement time for card payments is now even faster thanks to push payment technology. With this new technology, funds are available within 30 minutes; in most cases, however, they are available within seconds after transaction approval. The real-time processing and funding of push payments eliminates the waiting period associated with ACH and paper checks.

The Fastest Combo

So which payment method is fastest? It’s a combination of ACH with its same day funding enhancements and push-to-card payments. Both enable funds to clear the same day, giving you quick, if not immediate, access to money.

Launch Your Own Mobile Payment App

Make it easy for customers to pay and stay with your very own mobile payment app.

People use their smartphones for so many things other than making actual calls. In a late 2017 Statista survey, almost one-third of smartphone owners reported that they use their phones to make calls either occasionally, seldom, or never.

Yet, almost two-thirds of smartphone users use their mobile browsers regularly and more than 70% use the messaging functionality regularly or very often. Aside from texting, there are many mobile apps in the Messages category, including Slack, WhatsApp, Asana, Basecamp, Telegram, Discord and more.

The bottom line: people are on mobile apps. A LOT. This includes your customers. In fact, eMarketer conducted a fascinating study in late 2017. The study concluded that people are on their mobile phones for longer periods each day (no surprise there). The surprise, however, was that the time spent in mobile browsers is declining and time spent using mobile apps is increasing. At the same time, the number of apps people are using is dropping. People all over the country, including your customers, are on their phones more, browsing less, and using fewer apps more frequently.

Now is a Great Time to Launch Your Own App

This recipe for more concentrated app usage is an opportunity for your business to make it easier for customers to pay and to encourage your customers to stay with you for the long run. You can do that with your own mobile payment app powered by REPAY technology.

Other than streamlined payments, what are some additional reasons that a mobile app would be useful? Here are a few big benefits to consider.

Value Added Services
Let’s say you are a consumer lender, and on a typical 3-year loan, most of the defaults occur between months 12 and 16. One unique and cool thing you can do with a mobile app is start a loyalty program that encourages on-time payments by offering prizes, cash, reduced payments or lower interest rates on future loans. After all, if borrowers pay the loan off and nothing else changes, wouldn’t you want them to borrow again? And when would you want to implement such a plan? Month 1 or maybe month 8 or 9 leading up to that common default period? It’s ultimately up to you, but a mobile app gives you control and a direct line of communication to your customers.
 
Customers Are Loyal to Apps
In our previous article, Mobile Apps Make Payments Easy, we stated that the most popular payment app is the Starbucks app with over 20 million users. Starbucks has some great features, including a loyalty program, an e-wallet to make payments simple and easy, online ordering, and well-timed and engaging push notifications.

Customers are savvy, and they expect excellent customer service. Having your own app shows your customers you are trying to connect with them and serve them better. Fifty percent of marketers in a recent study listed either Improving Customer Service or Fostering Customer Loyalty as the #1 reason for having a mobile presence. It’s easy to see mobile apps are powerful retention tools.

Is customer retention an issue in your business? An app could be the answer.

Partner on It Instead of Build It

Many of the businesses we work with understand the value of having a mobile app. The hard part is getting started.

We have the perfect solution – the REPAY White Label Mobile App. Since it’s a white label solution, our merchants can use their own logos and brand colors, giving them more credibility with their customers. The app is customizable in many ways – merchants can choose payment options and field configurations and give their customers the option to view balances and payment histories. Customers experience the ultimate convenience of paying through their phones whenever and wherever they choose, and merchants get paid faster and experience greater retention rates and higher customer satisfaction. If your processor doesn’t offer an app or you just want to take a look and see how it works, you can request a demo today and take it for a test drive. You won’t be disappointed!

How Lenders Can Leverage Push Payments

Merchant processing makes collecting on-time payments from borrowers easier and faster for consumer lenders. Consumer installment loans, typically provided by both the traditional storefront lenders and the newer online lending fintech companies, are attractive to borrowers for many reasons. An installment loan is fast, simple, can be inexpensive with a fixed term, and is a great option for debt consolidation, home improvement, or an unexpected expense. In the last year, 34% of Americans have taken out a personal loan, according to a PureProfile survey.

How can lenders effectively leverage payment processing options to fund loans and make it easy for borrowers to repay?

Traditional Payment Practices

The largest marketplace lender, Lending Club, accepts credit and debit card payments online and through pay by phone features. Avant accepts card payments from borrowers through a call into a live operator. SoFi, whose primary loan product is student loan refinancing, does not offer a card payment option at all as most loan servicers in the student loan market require a direct debit from a bank account. With credit and debit card payments so ubiquitous, you would think any public-facing business, including consumer lenders, would offer multiple card payment options.

And you’d be wrong. 

Lenders have a huge opportunity to implement payment processing to not only make repayment easier, but to provide a fast and seamless funding experience. Let’s check out the newest opportunity for lenders – push payments.

The Push Payment Opportunity

Both pull and push payments can make payments faster, easier, and cheaper for both lenders and borrowers. A pull payment is the traditional, well-known payment method – it is initiated by the lender, who pulls the money from the borrower’s account after the borrower provides the account information and payment authorization. Push payments, on the other hand, enable the borrower or the lender to send (or “push”) the money to a recipient one time or on a recurring schedule. Push payments have faster settlement times and lower costs.

There are huge opportunities for push payments within the lending industry. Not only can lenders accept card payments as a form of repayment, they can use push payments to transform the lending experience. Through push payments, lenders can send funds directly to their borrowers’ debit or prepaid cards, and those funds are typically available for use within minutes of authorization approval. With this real-time processing and funding, push payments eliminate the waiting period associated with ACH and paper checks. Borrowers won’t have to make a trip to the bank to deposit a check, and storefront lenders won’t have to carry or handle cash. Another great benefit is that the push payment network is available 24/7/365, which means lenders can push payments to fund loans at any time, any day of the year, including holidays and weekends.

Lenders can use push payments to gain competitive advantages in the marketplace by delivering fast and convenient funding experiences to their borrowers.  Push payments add tremendous value for borrowers and lenders, reducing costs and wait times for everyone.

How People Pay with Their Phones

To be a successful fisherman, you must fish where the fish are. Like fishing, marketing for your business really boils down to finding your fish and telling them about what you offer.

In many fields, especially in the B2C world, meeting your customers where they are is the most effective way to engage and communicate with them. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, your customers are on their phones. They use them multiple times throughout the day and already pay for things with peer to peer payment apps, company-issued payment apps, mobile banking apps, and digital wallets.

Are you accepting mobile payments? Here are some reasons why you should.

The Mobile Payment Market

This Statista chart shows the approximate value of all mobile payment transactions in the U.S. In 2018, mobile transactions were valued at $78 billion (up 59% from 2017) and are projected to reach $113 billion in 2019.

The mobile payment market is huge and growing very quickly. Do you have a mobile presence? Are you making it easy for your customers to find you and pay you?

Peer to Peer Payment Apps

Zelle, a peer to peer (p2p) payment service owned by seven banks, has 27 million users. Zelle is a digital wallet and payments platform where you use your bank account to complete peer to peer payment transactions. Venmo, owned by Paypal, also works as a digital wallet for initiating and receiving peer to peer payments. Square Cash, the 3rd largest mobile p2p payments platform, has 9.5 million users, according to eMarketer.

These top three platforms had 60 million users in 2018. Even if one-third of these users use more than one of the three platforms (and it’s probably much less than one-third), there is still a market of 40 million users (or 1 in 8 Americans).

With a projected 44% growth rate to $113 billion in transactions and at least 40 million users, the mobile payments market is just too big to ignore.

Company-Issued Payment Apps

Thanks in large part to company-issued payment apps, consumers are now expecting a mobile presence from all the brands with which they interact. We’ve said before that the most popular payment app is the Starbucks app. There are many reasons why, including:

  • the thousands of locations worldwide
  • the app’s user-friendly experience, and
  • the unique benefits offered, like special features or in-app discounts

The chart below shows that digital wallets Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, are all popular with a combined total of 40 million users. Yet individually, they each have fewer users than the Starbucks app.

Mobile Banking Apps

Mobile banking apps are much more popular than many people realize. Finextra reports that in a 2018 study, nearly half of the respondents had increased their mobile banking app usage and 31% said they use their mobile banking apps the most. A mobile banking app is the 3rd most popular app on a smartphone, right after social media and weather apps.

Bankrate reports that 63% of all smartphone users have downloaded a financial app. The U.S. has approximately 250 million smartphones, which means 157.5 million people have financial mobile apps on their phones.

Paypal

Paypal is so big and so old in fintech, it predates the term of ‘digital wallet’ or ‘e-wallet’ and gets its own category. As of Q4 2018, Paypal had 254 million active accounts and 17 million merchants worldwide. It processed 7.6 billion transactions in 2017. Paypal is so popular and trusted throughout the world, that the average account does 35 transactions through Paypal each year. In fact, if Paypal were a bank, it would be the 21st largest bank in the U.S.

Paypal is still growing at an excellent rate. Payments processed grew 25% from 2016 to 2017. If there is room for Paypal to continue to grow, then there is room for you in mobile payments.

Conclusion

When you offer a mobile payment option, you are where your customers are. By making it easier for customers to pay, you will receive more payments earlier and on time. People are already paying bills, splitting their bar tabs, and managing their bank accounts through their phones. Any little piece of the mobile payment market you can claim is added growth for you and convenience for your customers.

If you want to learn more about how to add a mobile payment option for your business, contact REPAY today. One of our mobile payment experts will show you exactly how it works and what it can do for your business.

Auto Lenders Can Decrease Delinquencies by Offering Multiple Ways to Pay

Auto lenders are facing a big problem: credit quality is deteriorating. Private lenders and buy here pay here lenders are getting hit the hardest. If you haven’t suffered yet, higher than average delinquencies are probably coming your way.

Auto loan originations have hit an all-time high of $584 billion. At the same time, the Motley Fool reports that 7 million Americans are more than 90 days late on their auto loans, which accounts for almost 6.5% of all auto loans across all credit grades. Bloomberg describes the problem as the highest auto delinquency levels since 2012. More people are now behind on their auto loan payments than during the Great Recession.

The bottom line: bringing the deals in is no problem, but making sure your portfolio stays current might be.

If you are an independent auto lender, you need to proactively manage your portfolio, or it could get away from you. REPAY has the tools to help you – you don’t have to go at it alone.

Not All Credits Are Impacted

The Motley Fool article states that only 1% of credit union held auto loans are delinquent. On the other hand, 6.5% of those held by all private auto finance companies are delinquent. How can this be? Credit unions usually have older and more credit savvy borrowers with higher credit scores. Everyone isn’t getting hurt equally. The Bloomberg article breaks it down by credit grade with a chart from the NY Fed:

This chart shows that loan performance is essentially the same for credit scores of 660 and higher. For scores ranging from 620-659 (the red line), there is a definite uptick from 2% in Q1 2016 to more than 3% in Q1 2018. The biggest change in delinquencies is for credit scores under 620, or sub-prime borrowers. You can clearly see the trend has been sneaking upwards since 2014, and 8% of all sub-prime auto loans were delinquent in Q1 2018.

As an auto lender, the more sub-prime borrowers you have, the more susceptible your portfolio is to these economic trends.

How Many Ways Can Your Borrowers Pay?

This may sound like a silly question, but most auto lenders only accept payments via checks or ACH/automatic drafts out of customers’ bank accounts. If borrowers are lucky, the more ‘tech-savvy’ lenders let their customers go online to make one-time payments. For many auto lenders, the way borrowers can pay in 2019 is not that different than the way they paid in 1989. Offering multiple convenient ways to pay can be a gamechanger and significantly reduce the chance of delinquency.

Do you have an online portal where your borrowers can set up recurring payments, not just one-time payments? Can your borrowers make payments with their debit cards or bank accounts 24/7/365, even when your business is closed? With an online web portal, customers can self-serve and “set it and forget it” by scheduling recurring payments.

Do you have an app or text pay so your younger borrowers can pay on their phones?

Some late payments are simply due to forgetting what day it is. You can prevent these late payments with an app that pushes notifications to your customers’ mobile phones on a customized schedule before payments are due. Text pay allows you to send payment reminders and lets your customers initiate and authorize payments with a simple text message. Wouldn’t you like to be top of mind when it comes time for borrowers to choose which bills to pay first?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions could mean lower costs of managing your receivables, a more streamlined approach to your portfolio, and enhanced returns.

Conclusion

Thanks to online portals, mobile apps and other payment technology tools, there are a ton of ways for auto lenders to get paid. You simply have to implement these methods.

If these new payment methods meant

  • less effort spent on chasing down payments
  • lower delinquencies
  • higher returns and
  • fewer collections employees (or fees to an outside party)

…then why wouldn’t you use them?

The economic environment is only getting more difficult for ensuring you collect on what’s due to you. Make it easier for yourself by embracing modern payment technology methods.

What Are Push Payments & Why Do Lenders Need Them?

Thanks to the fintech industry, more firms are making more consumer loans at lower interest rates than ever before. Markets for consumer lenders are competitive both among the fintech newcomers and incumbent lenders. Fintech lenders, in particular, are looking for an advantage in the marketplace. Just providing a service the traditional banks don’t offer isn’t enough to make lenders stand out anymore.  Now big banks are jumping into fintech style lending services as evidenced by Wells Fargo’s FastFlex and Goldman Sachs’ Marcus.

How does a fintech lender compete with the billions of capital the large traditional banks have at their disposal?

Fintech lenders rely on technology and use it as a competitive advantage. One way they can maintain an edge is integrating better technology into their payments systems. Push payment technology represents a huge opportunity in today’s lending climate.

Push Payments v Pull Payments

Both pull and push payments are opportunities to make payments faster, easier, and cheaper for lender and borrower alike. A pull payment is standard for payments processing. In this case, the payment starts with the lender. The lender pulls the money from the borrower’s account after the borrower provides all necessary information and payment authorization.  This is also known as a debit transfer.

A more recent innovation is push payments or credit transfers. A push payment is when the borrower sends the money directly to the merchant one time or on a recurring schedule. Lenders can also push funds to a borrower’s prepaid or debit card. There are huge implications and opportunities for push payments within the consumer and B2B industries. According to Visa, push payments represent a $10 trillion opportunity in the United States. By using push payments, settlement times are faster, and costs go down.

Traditional "pull" vs new "push" transaction


Visa and Mastercard Offer It, But Your Processor Might Not

Visa Direct is one of the key programs in push payments that benefits lenders, yet Visa doesn’t offer the program to everyone. The payments processor must have access and the technological capability to connect to Visa Direct. Visa’s SVP of Push Payments, Cecilia Frew, described the program to LendIt as ‘a real-time push-to-card payment solution that enables online lenders to approve loans and deliver funds the same day’ in what projects to be a $62 billion market of originations for digital lenders by 2021.

Mastercard also has a push payments program, Mastercard Send, where it allows lenders to push a payment or disbursement to a customer’s prepaid card or bank-issued debit card.

The real-time processing and funding of push payments will eliminate the waiting period associated with ACH and paper checks. When using these traditional options, consumers must wait up to 7 days for the loan to close and fund. Few payment processors in today’s market offer Visa Direct or Mastercard Send to their customers, but it would make sense for all consumer lenders and online lenders to have the push payment capability.

Push Payments for Loan Disbursement

Imagine if your loan product is actually a line of credit instead of an installment loan. This would mean that each month as the line is used and paid down, that credit is available to borrow again. Your best borrowers can borrow faster. Credit line lenders can start this process with borrowers and generate interest fees faster thanks to push payments.

How?

The push technology allows a lender to push the funds to borrowers’ debit or prepaid cards for real-time funds disbursements, which they can start using right away. Uber, for instance, uses Mastercard Send (see study p. 4) to pay its drivers.  Not only do the drivers NOT have to wait a week to get paid, they use their debit cards 20% more often and spend 20% more in the following four months.

If you were a lender and could get your best borrowers using your funds to generate interest faster and in higher amounts, wouldn’t this be a win/win? Speed and convenience for the borrower, higher interest and loan fees for you, the lender.

SMB lender, Kabbage, and Retail Point of Sale lender, LendingPoint, use push payments to offer real-time funding to their borrowers. Both get the loan proceeds into the hands of borrowers faster and clearly position the push payment technology as a selling feature against slower funding competition.

Minutes after credit-worthy borrowers are approved, their loans can fund. Minutes after funding, borrowers can start using the proceeds. Many aspects of approving and closing a loan become easier with the technology behind push payments. If you are a lender, this is a tool you need in your toolbox.

Mobile Apps Make Payments Easy

More people are using mobile apps to pay for more items – from morning coffee to car notes to rent – than ever before.

Most of the money that moves around our economy is digital. The Federal Reserve estimates only about 11% of all dollars are in their physical form. This means almost 90% of them are electronic, digitized, and sitting on a ledger somewhere. In 2018, of the US M2 money supply of $14.4 trillion, only $1.7 trillion was in physical cash.

Mobile payments are a big part of this digital trend. Mobile is a growing method of payment acceptance for small businesses, too. This Statista chart shows how many small businesses were accepting mobile payments as of October 2017.

In 2017, ⅓ of businesses accepted mobile or digital payments inside the store. Fewer (less than 30%) accepted these payments online. In person, digital wallet apps (like Apple Pay) were under 15% acceptance.

It’s not just millennials who use these new payment services. Between the millennial generation, the tech-savvy, and those who are unbanked/underbanked, mobile payments are in high demand. Not accepting mobile payments could be a huge missed opportunity for your business.

Mobile app technology lets your customers pay you easily and quickly. And offering convenient mobile app payments could be a huge differentiator for your business, too.

Payment Apps Work with Your Existing Payment Processing

Businesses can access more of those digital dollars from customers through mobile payment apps that are compatible with your existing payment processing. Mobile payment apps, whether it’s Apple Pay, Zelle, or the most popular payment app, the Starbucks app (with almost 21 million users), are making payments easier.

If you sell to consumers, wouldn’t it make sense to include a mobile app as a payment option? It’s fast and convenient for you and for your customers.

The good news is many tech-enabled payment processing firms, like REPAY, can include app payments as part of your overall plan to accept payments from customers. We can white-label our app so it’s uniquely customized and branded to your business. You can collect payments 24/7/365, build brand loyalty and interact with your customers through push notifications on your very own mobile app.

Beat Your Competitors with App Payment Acceptance

In a 2017 survey of popular payment methods, in-store payments were the most popular, yet only accounted for 40% of transactions. This means that all forms of digital payments accounted for the other 60%.

If you have tech-savvy customers or a customer base with high smartphone penetration, you can get a leg up on your competition if you include some of these digital payment categories, such as mobile app payments, mobile messenger app payments, QR codes, or contactless payments. Many of these payment methods can be added to your existing payment processing without much hassle.

Is Your Business Ready for Digital Payments?

The days of only needing to slide a Visa or Mastercard into a physical terminal to process payments are over. Digital payments are here to stay, and they come in many forms. Whether it’s through Text to Pay, QR codes or a mobile app, your business needs to be ready. You can add these payment methods to your business with little effort, and in turn, you’ll give your customers more options and you’ll get paid faster. That’s a win-win in our book.

Collection Firms: Collect Faster with More Payment Options

For your collections business, we’re sure you’d agree that you need to collect faster on your portfolio to make more money.

When your agency is earning contingency fees from clients or tracking payments made when you buy or service a portfolio, speed is vital for good returns. The more calls you have to make, the more time you have to invest in collecting, the lower your returns. The more your staff has to work to collect the same amount of money, the lower your returns.  You get the picture.

And we don’t have to mention what happens when debtors impose call cap limits on you. What you need is simple, fast closing on as many debt accounts as possible.

How can you collect more in less time?

Payment technology enables faster payments, and we know that almost every collection agency out there has an online payment portal if it has near current software. But what about other ways to pay?

More payment processing options and intelligent payment technology give debtors more ways to pay faster, enhancing your returns. Let’s see what other firms in the industry are doing.

Comprehensive CFPB Study of Collection Firms

In July 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a comprehensive, voluntary study of the collections industry. Fifty-eight firms of all shapes and sizes – from law firms to very small businesses of less than 10 employees to huge collection agencies – participated and shared information with the Agency on how they do business. Here is a copy of the study you can check out for yourself.

In the study, 43% of firms reported debtors imposing call limits on them. Imagine eliminating this as an issue…

From the chart, you can see that the larger the collection agency, the more likely a call cap came into play. Is that because larger agencies have bigger clients who may know about FDCPA rules? Or maybe smaller agencies have less debt savvy customers who don’t know the call cap rule?

Payment Technology = More Options

While accepting debit and credit card payments via an online portal or over the phone is standard for collection firms, there are many other great options on the table. You need to offer choices and allow debtors to make payments through:

  • ACH
  • Voice Recognition Software over the phone (it’s called IVR)
  • Text to Pay
  • Smartphone Apps

The good news is that tech-oriented payments firms will give you access to all these payment methods, while offering the standard methods like online portals.  Some companies offer even more advanced options and enable consumers to pay through their mobile apps, or they can help you develop your own app. A tech-driven payment processor means one account for all these payment options, which keeps things simple and straightforward.

In the CFPB study, 86% of firms surveyed had an online payment portal, but they had to pay an average of $50 per month in additional fees for an ACH gateway and another $30 per month for credit card processing (CFPB Study, p. 33-34). These fees are paid to the different firms before the first transaction ever goes through their systems.

Does your firm have multiple payment options like these?

With IVR, for instance, one of your employees could negotiate a deal with a debtor and then immediately move the debtor to the IVR software prompts within the same call. While your employee calls the next debtor, a payment is made from the first debtor in a one call close. Take your payment technology one step further and employ a virtual debt collector tool that will automatically negotiate the deal and accept a payment without any employee interaction.

This is maximum time management and effectiveness of your staff AND you are collecting more money faster from a one call close. Consider how much more business your staff can do with easier payment options and more advanced technology.

Some other questions to consider to increase your speed of collection include:

  • Is your payments platform integrated with your collection management software?
  • Are you giving the debtors many convenient options to pay?
  • Is your payments platform up to the task to enable one call closing with ease for the debtors?

Payment processing has advanced far beyond swiping a card in a physical terminal. For collection firms, this is an opportunity to take advantage of the better technology out there. Processors today can handle multiple payment options faster, enabling one call closing by your staff for maximum effectiveness and ROI for your firm.

Business Intelligence: What can we tell you about your customers – and your business – that you don’t know?

Business intelligence (BI) seems to be the hottest new buzzword in town and can be found across a multitude of industries and platforms. For those who don’t understand it, or perhaps for those who haven’t had the chance to fully realize its purpose and impacts, it can be vague and often intimidating. Upon hearing the term, you may imagine a robot spitting out data or an unending sequence of unreadable formula tables and statistical jargon. These preconceived notions may not be entirely misplaced, but the true beauty of BI lies in the analytical simplicity of its end results.

BI refers to the technologies, tools, infrastructures, and applications that are used to collect, store and analyze complex data sets to support better, more informed decision making. The ultimate outcome of BI is to package the data into easily understandable results to provide insight into business best practices and trends.
But how does one start using BI to take advantage of all it can offer? The capabilities of BI are endless and can often be overwhelming with no clear start or finish line; in fact, the entire course can seem hazy and insurmountable at times. That’s why Susan Perlmutter, Chief Revenue Officer of REPAY, recommends business leaders partner with a trusted vendor who is already collecting important data points about their businesses and customers during normal, day-to-day operations.

“It’s best to find a partner who can not only collect the data on your behalf, but who can also analyze and package that data into digestible, easy to understand pieces of information that can translate into best practices, trends, and action items for your business,” says Perlmutter. She is surely no stranger to the advantages of BI as REPAY continues to build robust business intelligence services for its clients.

REPAY, an Atlanta-based payment technology company that offers omnichannel payment services wrapped up in the most secure and advanced technology on the market, is already using BI to identify both micro- and macro-level trends. The company primarily serves clients in the consumer finance, auto finance, and collections industries where most payments are made on a recurring basis to repay some form of debt. “By using BI in conjunction with payment data, we can tell you an awful lot about your business and your customers that you probably don’t know,” explains Perlmutter. “Payment data can provide insight into consumer preferences and behaviors and can measure ROI on technology and personnel resources, which in turn can help businesses make more sound decisions regarding marketing efforts, staffing levels, and future investments.”

By analyzing a merchant’s payments, REPAY can identify consumer payment preferences, including how, when and through which channel a specific type of consumer prefers to pay. REPAY can also detect potential usability issues within payment channels. For example, if consumers initiate payments on one channel, but complete those payments on another, it may suggest that there is an obstacle impeding the payment process.

BI can provide cost analysis, another important aspect for merchants who accept electronic payments. REPAY’s BI platform can analyze the cost of payments through each channel, comparing the cost of agent-assisted payments to the cost of fully automated, unassisted payments. This valuable insight can measure ROI and suggest where additional investments should be made.

According to Perlmutter, “The opportunities of business intelligence as it relates to payments are infinite. We can successfully predict when businesses will receive the most payments and when payments will most likely be approved, and based on that data, we can offer action plans for effective account management, communication strategies and marketing tactics.” She’s most excited about turning that data around to reward consumers. REPAY can evaluate payment data to build a reward-based system unique to each merchant to reward consumers who practice ideal payment behaviors, such as paying on time for six consecutive months.

The future of BI is promising and powerful, and it is thriving in our own backyard. Just as Atlanta has become the hub for payments, it soon will be known as the epicenter for business intelligence. Millions of transactions run through Atlanta every day and the number of data points associated with those transactions are astonishing. As a society, we are on the verge of unlocking invaluable information that can not only predict individual business operations but could potentially predict much larger shifts in the economy, such as periods of GDP growth or recession. It is not too premature to think that Atlanta could be the leader in those national and global conversations.

REPAY aims to harness the power of business intelligence to help its merchants grow and prosper. REPAY’s BI platform provides its merchants with both an overarching 30,000-foot view of economic and market trends and a granular analysis of their immediate ecosystems comprised of individual consumers and payments.