A wide array of firms and analysts dissect trends and more about how consumers use their mobile devices to find the vehicle they eventually end up purchasing. The popularity of mobile devices prompted on-demand payment processing technology provider BillingTree to look at how those same individuals could stay engaged through the duration of their financing or lease contract and beyond.
As a result, BillingTree is leveraging its experience in the debt collection space by venturing into auto finance. The company is less than a year into the process, but initial objectives are already being reached.
In late January, BillingTree announced a suite of new solutions that can allow auto finance companies to expand mobile payment options to consumers, and to manage and extend customer relationships beyond their initial purchase through digital marketing promotions and value-added customer service.
BillingTree’s mobile payment and lifecycle management solution can enable customers to view and pay their bills by scanning a QR code from their smartphone and instantly access their account information and payment options. Lifecycle communications features allow auto lenders to automatically identify and execute upsell, cross-sell and promotional marketing opportunities to online and mobile customers based on their buying behavior. Both solutions are supported by BillingTree’s partnership with ZNAP, a mobile payment and business automation platform provider.
“To grow revenues and remain competitive, auto lenders need to keep pace with consumer buying habits and extend their relationship beyond the point of sale,” said Marya Ulis, BillingTree’s auto finance market general manager.
“By offering the convenience of mobile payment and the added value of mobile customer lifecycle management, BillingTree is helping auto finance companies to transform an initial sale as the beginning of an ongoing conversation with customers about their needs,” Ulis continued.
BillingTree’s auto finance solution can allow finance companies to accelerate, streamline and automate payment processing and posting for vehicle loans and leases. It also can enable companies to drive customer loyalty and maximize revenue potential through ongoing digital communications during the entire lifecycle of a consumer’s loan or lease.
Finance companies can use BillingTree to deliver referral incentives, vehicle trade-ins or upsell promotions and other value-added services like extended warranties or service plans.
“This is your opportunity to create a consumer who is a lifetime consumer,” Ulis said. “Every marketing person will tell you it’s a lot cheaper to keep a customer happy and get them to buy from you again versus going out into the marketplace and finding new customers. Our mobile application addresses it head on.”
Ulis noted BillingTree will extend these activities to the mobile channel as well as enable consumers to make their loan payments securely using a mobile device, with the options to configure payment reminders, make partial payments and schedule future payments.
“Auto finance is a perfect example of an industry where mobile technology offers significant value to businesses with the strategic foresight to recognize and seize these opportunities,” said ZNAP North America chief executive officer Greg Gresh. “We are proud that BillingTree has selected ZNAP to expand its proven payment solutions to the mobile marketplace.”
Because BillingTree has been involved with debt collection companies for more than 10 years, Ulis insisted the auto finance solution can help with compliance, an element that’s intensified with the emergence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Everything we do is always wrapped around this notion of the more you automate, the more compliant you can be,” Ulis said. “The more you move away from a consumer who is writing a check and a physical human being who is processing that or answering a question because there’s automated way to do it, you lose your opportunity to enforce consistent rules for a particular consumer. Anything that is built, whether it’s a mobile application or Web application or phone application, it all allows companies to automatically enforce their business rules consistently. Otherwise, you have to make an exception and that requires interaction with an agent.
“If it’s moving toward a default and repossession, you can prove with automation that you treated them just like everyone else in the same situation,” she went on to say.
“Because we’re done this in the collection agency space, we’ve concentrated on how to do it effectively to go after your consumers you can get to pay because we understand that’s what it’s all about,” Ulis added. “But also how you can do it in the most compliant way so you’re using systems for documentation and more.”
Auto Finance Vital to Company’s Growth
Moving into servicing the vehicle finance industry is just a part of BillingTree’s recent success.
In 2013, BillingTree topped its previous year performance by securing more than 44 percent growth, including new accounts from larger ARM customers while also making inroads into the auto finance market.
The company, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2013, also saw continued growth from additional vertical markets, including healthcare.
In an environment where regulatory compliance was a key concern for many organizations, BillingTree also launched a Compliance Suite, introduced in late November to clarify, simplify and automate the payment compliance process. The suite includes a dynamic knowledge portal containing timely compliance information, offers automated training including best practices and assessments, plus access to leading complaint resolution management systems.
The suite was conceived following the BillingTree 2013 survey of industry operations managers that revealed significant concerns related to compliance, specifically new hurdles brought on by the CFPB and its impact on the market’s growth potential.
“As BillingTree enters its second decade, the company’s vision ‘to simplify the often confusing world of electronic payments’ continues to resonate,” BillingTree president and CEO David Roberts said.
“In a year that saw substantial regulatory enforcement and change, our customer first program and compliance suite initiatives were widely appreciated by customers coping with ever increasing compliance requirements. We’re excited to continue supporting our customers’ growth and challenges in 2014,” he concluded.