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03 November 2021

‘Repaytec’ taking the friction out of chasing overdue payments

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Interview with Jason Serafino, CPTO of Credit Clear. 

Collecting overdue payments from customers can be a minefield for businesses. It's an uncomfortable space where cash flow considerations collide with concerns over brand loyalty and basic human empathy.

But an innovative mobile solution from ASX-listed fintech Credit Clear is showing that receivables management doesn't have to be a negative experience for companies or consumers, promising to transform the way people manage their bills in much the same way that Afterpay disrupted traditional consumer credit.

Chief Product Technology Officer (CPTO) Jason Serafino says Credit Clear's mission is to make paying for common everyday services truly frictionless, starting with the vexed issue of overdue accounts.

"In large enterprises, marketing and sales get all the attention and the collections teams always seem to be the last to receive any funding, so they have been very slow to adopt new technologies,'' he says.

"Yet consumers have changed a lot in recent times. They are juggling many more payments than they did a decade ago, and they expect businesses to communicate with them via their preferred channels.

"In 2021, it's crazy to be harassing late-paying customers with embarrassing phone calls and letters of demand. We are about empowering people to manage what they owe and how they pay it from the convenience of their phones, taking the stress and anxiety out of the process.''

Credit Clear's white-labelled digital interface delivers targeted messages to the customers of over 1,000 businesses via email, SMS and social media. These offer a range of solutions tailored by each client, which can include options for settlement discounts, the ability to 'make an offer', and a choice of payment dates, terms and methods (including Apple Pay, PayPal and credit card).

The portal identifies the language settings of each user's mobile phone and communicates accordingly.

This fresh approach to an old problem is generating much higher levels of engagement than traditional methods, and far greater customer satisfaction too. Incredibly for a service that specialises in contacting people about outstanding debts, it boasts a Net Promoter Score (a worldwide standard for measuring customer satisfaction) of +45. For context, Apple has a score of +54 and the average of Australia's Big 4 banks is +10.

Serafino says the Credit Clear team is genuinely proud of this strong endorsement.

"If you think about it, somebody's just made an outstanding payment and we are asking them 'would you recommend this service to a friend','' he says.

"And what's also really encouraging is that so many people bother to leave us a message, a lot of which are quite heartbreaking and relating to their personal circumstances. To me this shows that the world has changed, and there is a strong drive in the modern consumer to want to engage.''

Credit Clear's cloud-based service runs seamlessly alongside clients' existing credit control systems and can be onboarded in a matter of days, boosting collection rates while cutting costs. It is also transforming how they relate to their customers, enabling them to build healthier and more sustainable long-term relationships.

With consumer rights increasingly in focus, Serafino says digital channels make discussions around sensitive issues such as financial hardship less awkward than phone conversations with strangers.

"Businesses are increasingly asking themselves not 'How can we collect more?' but rather 'How can we help our customers pay their accounts?','' he says. "It's about telling them 'Assistance is available, do you need a payment plan?' rather than 'Settle now to avoid disconnection'.''

The sequence of communications with each customer is informed by smart predictive analytics driven by AI, machine learning and insights into consumer behaviour gleaned from a database of over 100 million records from past user interactions across a wide range of markets.

This highly sophisticated 'repaytec' is capable of generating self-learning workflows that enable clients to test thousands of potential permutations to identify the optimal channel, message and send time to engage different customer segments based on demographics such as age, gender and location.

Credit Clear's rapidly growing Australiasian client base covers industries ranging from insurance and utilities to buy now pay later, motor finance and retail banking, and Serafino says the five-year-old company is also preparing to move abroad, with resources already on the ground in the UK and plans to tackle the US market in 2022.

"The whole world is experiencing this next wave of technology, innovation through the use of data, and our technology is highly transportable,'' he says.

"It's about increasing engagement between businesses and their customers to improve the financial wellbeing of both.''

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