Looking back at Digitalistion – [FULL INTERVIEW]

In this full interview with Gareth Bailey and Martin O’Donnell from DebtStream we chat about the accelerated development of digital collections and how businesses are starting to rethink customer journeys now with some urgency. Collections and Credit Risk is increasingly having more influence at a corporate level too.

We also talk about how new ways of working is influencing business models now… with the DebtStream chief dog officer even making their presence known too!

Find out more about DebtStream-> Here.

Interview Transcript

Well, I’m here with Martin O’Donnell and Gareth Bailey from debt stream again. Thanks very much for joining us today in what is a very cold, cold winter morning. gaffa. So you got your coat on, I was just talking earlier about my little space heater that I’ve got down here that maybe isn’t as environmentally friendly as it needs to be. But it’s freezing today, isn’t it?

Yeah, I’ve got one of a variety of three different coats. I’m on the medium coat today, because it’s only marginally above zero. So yes, but he’s pretty chilly, isn’t

it? dog walks on on the best of the moment, last couple of days compared to a few days ago, when like we were saying earlier that he was like 15 degrees.

Yeah, is balmy, isn’t it? So we’re right at the start of the year. And I suppose you could to get a bit of a catch up in terms of like, what you guys have been up to. I know, it’s been quite a lot evety I’ve seen posts on social media about you got new people starting those kind of things. So just just good to catch up, really. So what’s changed since we last spoke,

a lots changed. Actually, Chris, I think it’s fair to say towards the back end of last year, or Yeah, the second half of last year, we were we were focused on our investment round. So raising investment. After we we’d managed to secure a few clients, we gained a lot of confidence in our product and how that was working with our clients. And we decided investment was the right thing for us to do, we wanted to grow and expand. So we closed our investment round at the end of last year, very tail end of last year. So that was a key focus and delivering against all of our growth plans is going to be the key focus for 2022. That’s probably why you’ve seen some announcements, there’s more to come. But we’re Yeah, we’re growing we’ve we tripled in size, actually, in the last quarter, which is quite significant. we’re executing on that plan. So recruitment is a big part of it, you’ll see quite a few announcements coming out as we build across quite a few of our key key areas, our developer resources grown significantly, we’re onboarding sales and marketing guys, which we’ll be announcing very soon, you know, the laptop bags that you saw that were put together kindly by our chief dog officer with us for our for our new sales and marketing recruits that are starting next week. So really exciting times for us, we continue to grow and 2022 I think will be a real real acceleration for us.

What’s going to happen this year, I mean, hey, sort of seeing it from an external market point of view, in terms of like, adoption of digital has been a big thing last year, I mean, everyone’s sort of like, and that seemed like that was really rolling out of the back end of the year. So that’s sort of, you know, obviously sitting in your sweet spot as well. But in what you see is sort of been the themes, themes this year, really,

yes, digital collections, to be honest, is going to continue to accelerate is, it sounds like beaten the same, beating the same drum. But over the last year, of course, once again, accelerated by the pandemic, it’s, it’s become more and more of a focus. To be honest, I don’t think there are really any, any conversations with different organisations we’re having where they’re not looking at some form of kind of self service or digital collections capability, if they don’t have it currently, or they’re looking to overhaul what they have in place now to really drive self service within collections. And I think that’s gonna start to go across course, it’s gonna over the next year or two, that it’s going to become a bit more ingrained. And part of the overall operation rather than just a separate channel that customers can go down, it’s going to become a lot more focus of how it works with the agents, the call centre. And overall within the operation,

it feels like there’s quite a lot of reaction, right? When the pandemic first happened is like, we’ve got to do something to sort of keep the lights on. And now it’s sort of like getting into that embed period. I mean, how long do you think that’s gonna take? Because I think the level of sophistication probably wasn’t as much as we’d all wanted it to be historically. And it’s like these things take some time, I think, yes. What’s your view on that?

People were sold on digital self service, because everybody, everybody told businesses, that’s what they needed customer feedback was, this is what they want. I think last year was a real point of reflection for businesses. I think the pandemic, as we said, forced businesses to really think, not necessarily react, but really think and I think last year was a real point of reflection. And what we’re hearing is that 2022 is going to be the year of the action. So putting on people are thinking and those things into action. So we know that lots of budget planning that happened last year will not last pretty much all budget planning included a huge chunk of digital expenditure. What we’re also hearing is that lots of businesses that may have historically made a decision to consider building internally, they’re actually deciding when they look at their digital future and vision. That vision includes third parties that includes suppliers providing that and I think that’s one of the key changes is that when businesses are making this decision, they are deciding actually, we’d like a business that specialises in this. They’re experts in this to take this not problem but to take this off. We’re off our table and sort out what we’re hearing is lots of businesses are one looking to put this in action in 2022. But to using third party suppliers like us Yes, to do that,

I think I think that’s a really good point, actually, the third party supplies and looking to go externally, the buy versus build type element, there are actually a lot of organisations we’ve spoken to that have gone down the build route. And over the last, they’ve had it in for a year, two years. And what they’ve realised is for quite a few different factors, either resource resources redeployed elsewhere, etc, or they don’t have the expertise or continue to focus to evolve their offerings internally at the pace that’s needed with the changing environment and landscape is that actually is a better route to outsource that to an external party whose sole focus is digital collections. And they can evolve and they can get the natural benefit of an organisation that may have 1015 20 other clients within their space that they’re then going to see, they’re going to see the involvement and features and benefit from other elements that are implemented with other clients. Is

that internal capacity, is it speed? Is it price, and price is often like hidden cost, right? Because you don’t necessarily see the full cost of things until you actually do it. And then realises I think you’ve got to do right, they might look cheap. But do you think is it so as a capacity resource capacity internally? Or is it is it speed of action, or maybe it’s sort of pricing that that really sort of drives the does that come decision making,

when you speak to businesses that have done this and tried it, I’ve seen some level of success, but it’s fairly short lift. And then they have this very expensive division that needs to keep ahead of the game, they need to be keep, keep developing. And it’s very expensive, isn’t it? It’s like a huge department in itself. And generally, what you find is, if you have a business like us that specialises in this, we’re always trying to keep a step ahead. We’re always trying to make sure that everything we do is very efficient, has you know, as low cost and time overheads as possible. When we look at implementations and development, it’s very difficult to replicate that internally, when that’s not the sole purpose of your business. So cost, time, speed, all of those elements, I think, are the the decision points which lend themselves to third parties, I think that’s

actually a big thing I see a lot of businesses they look at when they’re looking at the build option. Initially, they just see that year’s budget, and I think this is how much is gonna cost us let’s go and build it over the next 1218 months. But then what they organisations we’ve spoken to what they soon realise is actually the ongoing cost to maintain support the platform’s they built internally and evolve it and keep pace with the changes in the market. So there’s a there’s a lot of cost. So there’s a lot of costs sitting sitting on their balance sheet, actually, which isn’t cost effective. They don’t keep up to date, they’re not leading the market anymore. A lot of them go through those one off projects. And yes, they’ve taken a step forward, and then it stagnates. And it’s just quite an impossible task really, with if you’re not a specialist. Now, that isn’t your core business. With how fast technology is moving, it’s just become more and more of an impossible task to maintain that internally.

And from a client point of view. I mean, what are you seeing sort of being the main drivers? Is it? Is it customer treatment? Or Customer Access? Or is it or is it does it really at bottom line, it really comes down to price, right? So the digital is so much cheaper to be able to do it, you can do things a lot cheaper, and so that, you know, when your capacity constraints, you can create extra capacity by having digital services or is there is there still that sort of customer customer need and customer drive to use digital? And what’s your your kind of view on that?

I would say I would say on on part of that. Yes, the cost is a far more cost effective channel. Of course, the business, it does actually open up incremental revenue for businesses as well, though, because it’s channels, if you’re not leveraging digital in the right way, and there’s customers that prefer to engage on that channel, then there’s actually lost revenue within collections and recoveries as well. But I’ll be honest, there are a lot of organisations that are having the customer at the heart of what they’re doing, you got to think of the typical traditional collections process here, which is phone calls, let’s so a bank, a bank, a customer is taken out a loan, they miss one payment. So they’ve got taken out a loan digitally, a really good experience, they missed one payment, and suddenly they’re getting letters, phone calls, and potentially further down the line doorstep visits from a customer experience point of view, retaining that customer, as a lending customer in futures for future lending, for instance, becomes difficult. So actually using leveraging self service for the customers, actually, creating the overall better experience when they do unfortunately fall into financial difficulty is actually quite a core focus, we’ve started to see as well, because it’s that realisation. You’ve spent a lot of money acquiring that customer. But now as soon as they fall into arrears, you’re either outsourcing them to a third party, where you’re going down manual processes, traditional processes, and actually you’re just causing customer churn, you’re not retaining them. So all that cost up front you’ve spent to acquire that is just is to a degree wasted.

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Is that starting to get linked through? Do you think that’s always a bit of a challenge and collections is they’re often seen as like separate, separate kind of areas? Almost I mean, do you starting to feel that that’s, that’s getting more better understood and more linked through from a business point of view?

Yes, I would say so. Because you said, you’re starting to see, you’re starting to see different business leaders that are in charge of collections as well overall and responsible. That might be credit risk, for example, that overall they are in charge for collections. So they need to ensure obviously, they’re lending to the right customers retaining customers, but also managing it on the back end, because link, linking more together, end to end, rather than having a director of collections separate and director of credit risk, we’re seeing a lot more kind of amalgamation of those roles where the common responsible for the back end as well.

It’s interesting point, though, just so do you think the pandemic is accelerated the visibility of collections in credit risk folks. So you’re going to see that the more senior roles if the customer

is really at the heart of everything you’re doing, and whether whether it be a chief risk officer or chief credit officer is actually starting to assume those CEO positions and meaning in the business. That is something that has been traditionally lost in the past is actually this back end with the customers that fall into arrears and fall into difficulty. The amount of focus and attention and support pales in comparison to customers that are in life they’re trying to acquire and etc, the focus on the business? And I do think I do think I do think you’re right, that the pandemic has caused a big shift, in that view, and realising the importance of collections and recoveries, whether it wherever it translates through to the credit risk officers or chief credit offices moving in CEO positions, I’m not sure yet it’s something we’re have to have to see.

I think the pandemic has forced companies to really think about customer experience. And one of the reasons being is when you get a channel shift, you don’t just shift you have to think about what you’re shifting them to. And it causes businesses to start thinking again about, well, what what is a good experience, because if you think about traditional call centre world, stick someone on a phone, they speak to someone, there’s a customer experience, it’s been unchanged for a long time, you then introduce a new channel, digital self service, it doesn’t just happen, you have to create it, you have to build it, you have to think about it. It forces businesses to think about what is a good experience in this new channel. So I think not only are we We’re channel shifting massively, but also it’s caused and forced us and business, other businesses to really think about, well, what is a great customer experience? What is it that we should be delivering? The backdrop of that is, you know, in collections and recoveries, it’s offering support, it’s advice, it’s guidance, but also it’s access to the tools and the the sort of different collection elements that you would normally get in a traditional call centre environment. So I think that’s one of the other outcomes of the pandemic is really forcing businesses to think about their customers more,

what do you think is going to happen this year? And what’s your How do you think we should react cuz it feels like we’re getting into this, like, it’s going to be long term, we’re gonna have to stick with it, like this stuff is here to stay. And almost like from an investment point of view, the stuff has to be here to stay, which sort of speaks to your planning stuff in a way. I mean, what’s what’s what’s your view for

this year? I guess on that side, there’s, there’s a couple of things there, because looking at people, as in regards to their resilience to it, I think there has, it’s kind of started to wane off, really, people are kind of To that end, end kind of game really, in how they are willing to deal with a pandemic. And actually what kind of rules they’re willing to sign up to. I think people just want to try and get on with their life as much as possible. But there are people that have been sensible about it, as well, they’re still ensuring that they’re going through and wearing masks, etc, etc. But I just genuinely think that it has come to an end point. But people need to start carrying on with their life while taking all the proper precautions. Because if you if we were having this conversation in two years again, and it’s been 1200 days, for instance, I just can’t see people for variety of reasons for their general life getting on with their life progressing in life, but also their mental health and other things. If if we don’t actually just carry on, like we have done probably the last six months.

Yeah. I think there’s the pragmatism isn’t there. There’s a pragmatism of like, well, you know, we got to get on with things be sensible. But that also comes down to the tools to be able to carry on, right. So you have to create the tools to be able to carry on and then the new environment if this is the way it’s going to be. Yeah,

perfect. I think there’s a lot of businesses that have started up in the last couple of years, businesses that have started up cause of problems and pain points that have been generated by the pandemic that they’ve now been able to solve. And there’s a business that started just before the pandemic hoppin, which is like live events and for It takes it a bit step further than zoom. And it they’ve absolutely nailed it that their their growth and acceleration over the last two years is it’s been amazing to be honest where they are as a business. But it’s because without the pandemic, to be honest, I don’t think they would have grown because they started just before pandemic in the way that they have. But it’s created that kind of perfect storm and pain point for some of these businesses to kind of accelerate and come out of the woodwork, it might have taken 579 years for them to be where they are today. Without it.

What do you think that means for financial services like innovation and financial service? What other innovations do you think is sort of coming down the pipe or, you know, I mean, because I think we’ve seen that similar in our kind of industry as well,

I guess on that, to be honest, you have to, you have to think about, first of all that people’s lives and how they operate day to day within work, and everything has kind of changed and has for some change and reflection based on the pandemic. So because of that, he is going to create potentially new needs, for instance, financial services, financial services, over the last few years have, even before the pandemic had started, have gone under a really big shift, right, from digital banking, to other areas of people’s lives around money management, and all these other aspects, it’s now created a bit of a different different kind of environment, again, with the pandemic. So people, the financial services need to kind of wrap around people’s lives, and actually be there available to them at the right time when they want to engage with them, and how it’s going to be right for them. And I think it’s quite hard task as well, for these different financial services providers and this overall ecosystem, we’re part of how to continue, continue to make sure that you are presenting stuff in the right way around around the choice of the end consumer that is using that service is not that we are here, you come to us, it is they are choosing how they’re going to use it, how they’re going to leverage any financial service within their life for how it suits them. So it’s completely changing dynamic.

And what about volumes? I mean, there’s a lot we were I mean, we were all predicting sort of doom and gloom 106 100 days ago, around what’s going to happen from a collections point of view in arrears levels and those kind of things. And it really didn’t, really didn’t transpire, you know, we just got through, you know, the year end, you know, January is usually typically as a high volume, high volume month anyway, do you think that’s going to flow through this year or things have changed, and people just found other things to do. And so they’ve, they’re just earning earning money elsewhere? I think we’ve still got to be prepared for potentially more volume coming through.

I think there’s definitely a lag. I don’t know whether it’ll be as bad as we all thought. But I think there’s definitely a lag. And we’ll see whether it’s a bubble or this this growth of people struggling. But you know, I think, obviously, with the furlough schemes ending but you know, people are probably still making ends meet, but is it? Is it sustainable, long term? Businesses, we know, there’s lots of businesses that are closing, whilst there’s lots of opportunity and new business opening, we are seeing lots of businesses closing, which again, is obviously going to create unemployment that will, you know, knock on that will that will see people falling into arrears, etc. It’s very difficult to say, you know, underlying, you’ve got things like inflation, interest rates going up, there is other factors, Brexit, you know, no one’s really talked about Brexit, it’s all been about the pandemic. But will these elements actually have knock on impacts that sort of phase up in the background and don’t feel like this big bang of this big wave of debt, but it does grow naturally in the background? I think it’s very difficult to say, I don’t think anyone’s got the answers, I think it will still grow.

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I do. I do think it is hard to say because, for instance, as well, as obviously, like Eric said, the furlough schemes and everything has ended. And obviously there are companies that are winding up and unfortunately, closing but last year, in 2021, I think like venture capital within the UK was over double what it was the previous year. I don’t know if it was 100 billion, or whatever it was that was there was invested into different businesses around the UK. So there’s, there’s a lot of jobs being created there as well, at the same time. And and to be honest, I think a lot of lenders and other businesses that are dealing with consumers actually have learned a lot over the last few years how to treat and support customers within collections. They might not be having all the necessary they have all the right technology and everything in place yet, but they have learned a lot around their processes and things they can put in place and how they can support consumers. So it’s whether that is actually taking more of an effect than we thought it would and has started to kind of ease or spread out some of that pressure of customers that are in arrears.

What do you think is a good key indicators to look at them in order to almost like monitor the situation and you obviously got inflation that’s out there. And I think inflation and interest rates are a common thing, unemployment, which actually has a lot of job openings at the moment. I mean, but are there other things we Key indicators we got to look out for that could be indicative

that you’ve got household debt, haven’t you? You’ve got average spending, you’ve got utilisation of people’s credit limits, credit card spending, as opposed to direct from bank spending. I think we saw november december the highest levels of credit card spending since July 2020, something like that. It’s the kind of disguised elements, the things that look look okay, on face value. But these are indicators of people spending money, they don’t technically have I suppose. And we’ve seen historically that does bleed through how it bleeds through, I don’t know, you’ve got the Buy Now pay later. bobl as well, we’re seeing can’t remember the numbers, but I think the spend through the MPL was like doubled in the last quarter last year. I think there’s still questions over what will that mean long term? How will that, you know, actually translate, but yeah, I think there’s there’s lots of different ways and measures and factors, I think,

I guess there’s the utilities market, right. Everything that’s gone on in the last few months of the year and the utilities market, that that is still an issue at the moment as well. So we don’t know what pressure that’s going to put on households with utility spending utility bills, as well. I think we haven’t seen the end of that yet as well.

I mean, that is a big issue. I think about your your ID and your budget going through I mean, your energy spend I mean, for some people are going off fixed house great fixed house, I mean, the energy prices are doubling, if you’re unlimited income, and that makes a big difference in terms of affordability massive difference, right? That’s why

I’m wearing three different types of coat. I mean, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Now, it’s, it’s definitely Jokes aside, it is serious. But yeah, like Martin said, I think we’ll see that rumble on some

people definitely save money by working remotely, right. So and you certainly saw credit card spend sort of dip on lending itself was was lower during the pandemic. And maybe that’s just sort of like just changing now. And maybe that’s an indicator that maybe the cycle is going to go a little bit more back to the way it was where we might see more is that sort of sort of blows through. And

I think I don’t know if we mentioned it before, but I think the pandemic definitely like polarised, maybe not as extreme as one or the other. But you found people that found it extremely difficult. And whether they were, you know, losing money on furlough, they had a significant drop in their income, found it very difficult. You also had people and we spoke to lots of people that have never had so much disposable income they were, whether it’s reduction in travel, whatever it may be, but they’ve found themselves financially in a better position than they’d ever been in. So I think it really did sort of polarise the population.

And of course, a bigger gap, potentially Garrison it as well, because I guess there it was that real stark contrast, there wasn’t really as much middle ground from the conversations we’ve had, though, people that were really struggling, or their people, though, actually, like you said, had quite a big increase in disposable income due to changes in work environment.

I mean, remote working was a big theme. And that’s almost the length been a bit like a polarising kind of argument as well, between, you know, definitely there was there was people who wanted to be put back in the office versus those that, you know, those people are just quite happy working remotely. And I feels like that as a head kind of coming together a little bit. I mean, I mean, you guys, obviously, quite remote. So imagine a sort of more on the remote side, do you see that sort of changing. And again, we also are working remotely again and started this year.

So I know, one thing that has happened over the last six months or over the whole of last year is for a lot of conversations I’ve had with Viva people I’ve known directly or just employees out in the market. So actually, there’s a lot of people that are requesting, or not even entertaining different jobs, if they don’t have remote or flexible work. So really has massively changed the mindset. And it’s to be honest, it is an employee’s market out there at the moment. There is there’s an employee’s mark out there at the moment, and the fact that they can turn around and say on my terms, I want to be able to go and go two days into the office, and three days from home. There’s a lot of companies that aren’t are going to struggle, actually, I think, to recruit the right talent, if they’re not putting those flexible work processes in place. It doesn’t work for every industry, right? Because manufacturing, for example, you if you need to be on site, for example, in the in the manufacturing plant, but but it is something actually I think you will lose out as a business on talent. If you’re not willing to look at flexible working practices.

What about global talent? Because definitely remote work gives you access to have conversations at least at a minimum with people in other markets or even get work done in other markets. Right as well. How much of that is a theme? Do you think that sort of really read through I mean, I saw a study the other day consultancy study and it was just talking about from digital workforce. I mean, the fact that they wanted to work much more sort of remotely and I just wonder if that we talked about it that’s just a bit of the tip of the iceberg of a new trend coming through around us all doing a lot more remotely and internationally as well

and stuffs been set up for working in especially as well, different sub like SAS providers are, are there to enable enable different companies to take advantage of different employees from different not just different regions in the country. But like you say internationally, us ourselves, we we are we are going down that path, it does give you even further breadth of talent pool there there is there is people, for instance that we’re dealing with across like Eastern Europe and all that side that have support around DevOps practices and all these things and extremely talented people as well. And if we didn’t have this setup that we do today, we would not we’ve not have those conversations, and we wouldn’t get advantage to speak to those people, it just creates more opportunity for you as a business to get the right people in for the roles that you want in place for what we’re trying to achieve over the next year. What’s your

approach going to be in terms of width, because there is something missing versus meeting face to face? And I think we all felt that at the end of last year, when we could actually do it a little bit. Right. And it was it was great, right? It was like it was like drinking from the firehose and the inflammation and getting on with people having a laugh. But you still want to create that and remotely is difficult with remote workers in terms of creating that sort of same company culture, kind of environment, those kind of things. I mean, what are your thoughts around that as we move forward, because they’re going to be, let’s say, in Eastern Europe and other other markets around the world, you still want to try and create that cohesive kind of company culture,

definitely, I think, obviously, you’ve got remote working, which is, say, within the UK, and it’s still not practical to be in an office together. But we’re get we’re going to do things like have lots of off site meetings, where we do make sure we have time where we all come together, you can create that sort of Team bond, etc. But using technology, so using, you know, your team’s type platforms where everybody or they could be sitting all over the world. But actually, we’re all kind of connected, you don’t have to, you know, book in three o’clock on Friday for a call, you just blip someone a message, you know, call them, it feels very much like you’re in an office, you just in two separate rooms. You know, I think things like that sounds very simple. But they, they make a huge difference to feeling part of that slight kind of office environment, whether it’s just kind of, you know, take a few minutes to just talk about something that’s not work. And you can do that quickly and easily. Without, you know, booking a meeting to talk about the weekend doesn’t feel right, we can do that when you’re using these type of platforms. So we were embracing that we want to make sure we you know, we create that, that office feel culture. But clearly, we’re not going to open open offices at the moment.

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And we have we have like weekly check ins with the whole team together. And it’s it’s not about talking work or shop or anything like that. It’s literally just to have that open conversation and everyone getting together and just having a bit of a laugh. And I think this is another thing that the pandemic has created and change on the mindset. And there is some providers that have kind of enabled you to do different things I know there’s like virtual murder mystery, for instance, elements and stuff like that you can do with the teams and it just creates even though remote, it creates different activities that you can do to try and bring that coach bring the team together and kind of get people to know each other, even though they’re not physically in the same room.

I mean, it’s almost like the accountant in me Everything needs to add value, right? So everything needs to add value. And it’s but the pandemic kind of shows you that some of the subtle things that really add value are quite hard to quantify, right in terms of like the face to face stuff. And I know we’re working hard to try and replace some of those like units in America that takes the watercooler chat but it’s all the banter or you know, so the joking around and it is important, I think we sort of felt that we missed it right? And you could see it when people got back together again. So one of the

things we did as you know, Chris, early in the pandemic was our virtual coffee breaks, for instance, that we started doing that every we were doing it weekly at one point and then bi weekly in the monthly but those themselves actually created for a lot of industry people within collections and recoveries to have that kind of space where yes, there was some conversation that was going on in the industry but there was a lot of banter and fun and other things. You know, we thought about our chief dog officer earlier crane, the laptops or the new recruits, but we had like, bring your pets bring your pets to work, like virtual coffee, for example. And someone bought a pair along you know, we weren’t going to necessarily have apparel included in the office way as well. So it brought something brought something very different.

You never get my cats in the same room as me I think unless they want food. I think that’s so we talked a bit about digital digital things mean what do you see as sort of like new emerging kinda technology that you’ve got your eye on? I mean, open banking has been around for a while. The stuff around blockchain crypto blockchain, I suppose is probably is probably the way of saying it rather than cryptocurrency. If you got your eyes on us, like this is where we might go kind of next after we got digital in place, accepting that there’s a lot of work just to get it already in.

Well, well, I guess open banking is a point that’s continuing to evolve. There are there are elements that happens towards the end of last year and slightly, slightly further on that have enabled some changes. So the 90 Day Consent rule around open banking, that’s going to, I think, I think they’re looking that’s going to look at changing now, which to be honest, that in itself always put some limitations around the customer really being able to take control of their data sharing with organisations, especially when you’re in arrears, because how you’re going to enable an organisation maybe who’s using our platform, for example, to have flexible repayment plans that adjust based on their financial data month to month, especially if you’re self employed, or something like that. But if you’ve only got a 90 day consent window, you have to then re authenticate No, it just adds a barrier and friction to that. So that’s a good thing. But recurring payments are coming through open banking as well. And that is something that will change, especially within collections, the fact that you can have a payment method that you can set up essentially like a standing order, for example, through open banking. So the customer doesn’t have to go on their online banking or into the branch, for example, to set up their recurring payment method, if they don’t want to utilise straight debit, that is going to be quite a big, quite a big piece. But when it comes to the blockchain side, as well. So blockchain is a technology, I do think it’s something that’s not necessarily been leveraged yet, within collections and recoveries, it’s, I guess, the security around it. And the immutable side kind of audit aspects of activity that goes on within just say, a digital collections journey, for example, or platform, or one of the elements that we’re building out is secure messaging, for example, and Lange layering that over blockchain technology to mean that it has that kind of immutable audit trail, for example, means from a compliance specific compliance perspective, it will add a lot of value, because there isn’t elements that can be adjusted or interfered with. And this is something that has been mentioned around digital technology as well as, obviously the the historic nature of it, for instance, audit trail was in a real important piece, we don’t see all the different activity. But blockchain gives an extra layer of security around that as well, because it can’t it can’t be adjusted or changed once once it’s there, that activity has happened is recorded on recorded on the ledger within blockchain. And thus it is there Yes.

I think as well, what we will continue to focus on is just continue to improve like the ease of access, making sure everything is available on mobile device. I mean, that’s still, you still go on loads of websites, you know, just don’t work on your mobile, things like that. You just think a basics, but you can look at new technology, but you can also just making sure we’re utilising what we have today better, we’re always looking at refining our customer journeys to make them slicker, easier, simpler, easier to access, obviously, retaining and maintaining the, you know, highest levels of security, but they’re going to be key areas of focus, but also within that. So making lovely journeys that are really easy to use, but making them tailored, you know, combining digital experience, but with data, data and intelligence, that’s kind of the next step. It’s a step that you know, people are taking, but I think that needs to be a key focus. So how do you make something tailored and bespoke that is, you know, there is no human? Well, one of the best ways is to use data to learn and understand whether it’s behaviours, whether it’s customer personas, but how you need to present and have different kinds of interactions and journeys. So I think joining everything together with data and intelligence with those digital journeys, is the next must have. So we all get

excited about the metre versus the one that I didn’t talk on the metaverse. We didn’t talk about or, or blockchain or like the latest things that are coming on. But actually, you know, that was happening to digital property like 10 years ago, we all got excited about it. But actually, now’s the time we’re actually gets delivered. And this is where the value gets created. Right? So concentrate on getting it right now is where the value is. And yes, we can get excited about these things. But there’s a lot to do even even as we stand today, just with with what we’ve got, we’ve been given a kickstart it sounds like

Yeah, and you know, setting yourself up for success and improvements really important. So we don’t know how we need to adjust our customer journeys and our ways of engaging for, you know, 18 months down the line. What we can do, though, is make sure we’re capturing and retaining the right pieces of data so that we can learn and understand how customers interact, what works and what doesn’t, so we can constantly evolve. And that’s one of the things that I think some businesses Miss, you know, we talked about the buy versus build, what we see as some of the common sort of shortfalls when people build themselves is they don’t set themselves up for how they need to evolve their products down the line on that you put in place the structure and foundations. That may not tell you anything today, but it’ll tell you a bit more in a month, and it’ll tell you a lot more in 12 months. There’s obviously the real big shiny new toy, which is the new technical innovations, but there’s so much that can be done to improve what we’ve got now

that is something that To be honest, across all industries can always become a distraction with different stakeholders. There’s new technology, how do we leverage it? How do we use it rather than is it solving a problem that we’re trying to do? So focusing on what you know, is solving problems and making sure it’s as slick as possible is adding as much value as possible to your business, to be honest, is actually going to add far. You know, I don’t like to always use this word. But you know, the quick wins, for example, that you can add to your business and add a lot of value in the short term, rather than trying to implement new technology that, like the metaverse, for example, that it’s not going to add value in the next five to 10 5789 10 years to collections and recoveries, probably probably not you think of the interface on what it’s going to be used for. But there are a lot of technologies out there that can add a lot of value that are there that have been out for a few years, and they just need to be embedded better within businesses.

And that’s where you extract the money. Yeah, well, Gareth, Catherine Martin, thanks very much for catching up. It’s, it’s fantastic. Great to hear all the developments that have happened. It sounds like you’re on a terrific, terrific growth curve. And you know, the new and exciting just ball is going to be an exciting year as well. So, so thanks very much. Great to chat with you and I really appreciate the catch up

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