Leading the way: How Axactor is taking debt collection into the future with open banking
May 16, 2023
Axactor is a Nordic based debt collection company that helps people and companies with credit management. Their motivation is to find people-first solutions to difficult financial situations and to help them take steps toward a better one. They are among the TOP 10 debt collection companies in Europe and offer services across the Nordics and Europe.
Their journey into open banking began in 2021 in Norway, when they came to us in search of a more user-friendly payment option for debt management. Using Neonomics Payment Initiation, Axactor now offers end users the option to make a same-day payment or to schedule a payment on a more convenient date. In addition, they enhanced their payment solution with account data so users can see their account balances in the same application instead of having to go to their banking app.
The payment solution is now integrated into their online and mobile platforms and can be embedded directly in their invoices. Axactor’s implementation offers users a smooth, user-friendly payment solution, with one of the highest conversion rates we have seen, approximately 90% on average.
To see how it’s going our Go-to-Market Director, Frankie Elmquist, sat down with Arnt André Dullum, Axactor’s Chief Operating Officer, to discuss his thoughts on open banking for debt collection and their experience thus far. Arnt is responsible for Operations, IT and Analytics within the Axactor Group and has 20 years of experience in credit management and debt collection in Europe.
Here’s what he had to say:
Hello Arnt André! Welcome and thanks for meeting with us today. For our readers that are less familiar with Axactor, let’s kick off with a bit more about your company and what you do in the industry.When and where did Axactor get its start? Axactor was founded in 2015 and has rapidly risen to become one of the top providers in Europe in the debt collection industry. We have operations in 6 countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy, and Spain. We purchase and own portfolios of non-performing loans, and also offer services within debt collection and accounts receivable management.
From the beginning, our main belief is that we can challenge the industry by doing things in a different manner. This is now becoming visible in our results; we are now the most cost-efficient player, we are winning benchmarks, we have highly satisfied clients, debtors, and employees, we are ranked as top 2 % globally on ESG, and by this, we are increasing our position as the industry benchmark.
What does Axactor do? Axactor helps companies, banks, financial institutions, and people with debt management. We have classic debt collection services on behalf of our customers and in addition we purchase debt portfolios from the banks.
How is Axactor doing now post-pandemic? Axactor is coming out of the pandemic a strengthened company. During the last 2 years, Axactor has been able to cut costs, restructure unprofitable segments and improve our financials. Based upon the actions taken we are expecting an all-time low NPL cost-to-collect ratio for 2022, which is one of our most important efficiency measurements. At the same time, we were able to invest EUR 288 million in 2022 in attractive portfolios across our 6 markets. So, 2022 definitely delivered on our promised strategy of growth.
What is your goal and vision for Axactor? Axactor was founded because we believed it was achievable to do debt collection better. We were convinced it was possible to operate more efficiently with innovative and less costly IT systems, more streamlined processes, and with an increased focus on key stakeholders without compromising on environmental, social, or governmental standards.
From the very beginning, our vision was to be the industry benchmark, based on our values of passion, trust, and proactivity. Our goal is to be the company that delivers the best advice and fairest treatment of debtors, with more satisfied customers, happier employees, and a higher return to investors.
We want to be the company that reinvents debt collection, that others will look to when they want to improve.
Wow, that’s super inspiring and ambitious! Tell us about some of the challenges you and your customers experience with debt collection payments. What kinds of difficulties do consumers experience when paying invoices? I would say that the most common problem we see consumers experience is that they do not receive the invoice on their preferred channel, and/or that the issuer does not have user-friendly payment methods available. We have found that offering an easy and seamless user journey increases the likelihood that the invoice will be paid on time, which reduces the likelihood of accidentally forgetting to pay the invoice and late fees while providing the customer with more peace of mind.
What sorts of issues do credit management companies face when trying to receive payments? With traditional payment solutions, we lose valuable information from the bank, such as KID number and the account number from which payment was made. This makes it difficult for us if we need to do any corrections, such as a return payment in the case of overpayment and so on. We also have experienced that with some of the payments we receive there is a delay in the settlement, which creates differences in the client accounts.
That’s interesting. While it would seem at face-value that all channels and payments are alike, that is in fact not the case. By focusing on where consumers receive an invoice and how easy it is for them to act on it from that channel, you’ve been able to streamline and improve the user experience.What drew you to open banking to help solve those challenges? The real-time nature of the account-to-account (A2A) payments, that open banking makes possible, was a major draw so that we can reconcile client accounts as fast as possible. As well, the fact that we don´t have to deal with a third party or the higher transaction costs associated with them was an important element.
We see it as a great advantage that we could integrate Neonomics services into our core systems to ensure that the payment process becomes a natural part of the customer's journey. The ability to make scheduled payments ahead of time ensures that they can take care of a payment even if they don´t have money in their account as of today. All of these factors contribute to increased user experience!
The solution is free of charge for our end-users, and they have access to relevant bank account details directly in our debtor portal.
How have you found open banking payments compared to other payment methods? I am convinced that account-to-account payments are the future, because they offer a lot of benefits, both for us and for our end-users. For Axactor, A2A payments provide us with the data we need to be efficient, and the transaction time is reduced. The lower fees have a big impact and benefit, enabling us to operate as cost efficiently as possible.
For the debtor, the solution is intuitive, user friendly and easy to use. The ability to schedule payments ahead of time is a great benefit to the user.
What kind of results have you seen? We have a significantly lower transaction cost than before, so the cost-saving perspective plays an important role. As mentioned, we are also able to keep important transaction data, this lowers the workload for our finance department, giving us better control over the whole transaction process.
During the first year with Neonomics, we have seen that our users have adopted the solution immediately, and the number of transactions has been steadily increasing. This is a good indication that our users are happy with the solution!
When you were choosing a provider, what did you look for? There are several reasons why we chose Neonomics as a payment solution partner. Compared to the competitors, Neonomics presented the best solution for us, both in a technical way, with user-friendly solutions, and their profile, people and way of transparency are a good match with ours.
The price structure is clear and their ambitions for growth in different markets fit well with our plans.
The support and assistance we received during implementation and designing our customized payment solution was a big benefit and helped us create the best possible solution.
Compliance is a major factor as well in any type of payment solution. We feel that the Neonomics platform is one of the most compliant solutions in the market. They have been a trustworthy partner that we know we can rely on.
Your team worked closely with our UI/UX design team on the user interface. How did this contribute to the success of the solution? Vivian Llarena (Head of Design at Neonomics) was instrumental in helping us to create an ideal user interface that really harmonizes with our brand, our identity, and how we want our users to perceive us. As this is a new way of paying that users are less familiar with, it was important that the flow of the solution feels credible and professional. Through extra effort and attention placed on the design, the payment solution became an integrated part of the portal, making the user journey as seamless and easy as possible.
What are the top three benefits this solution has provided you and your customers? Cheap, user-friendly, and efficient!
What are your hopes and expectations for your platform going forward? That the portal will become even more used and that the debtors find it easy-to-use with user-friendly solutions that help them to pay the debt. That our users can rely on us to be available and a supportive partner to that is here to help them to a better future.
Our collaboration with Neonomics is an important part of that – to continue to increase the user-experience and the number of payments and offer even better solutions for both our debtors and for our clients.
Thank you so much Arnt André for sharing your insight and experience with us on debt collection, credit management and how open banking can help. We look forward to continuing to grow and further open banking with Axactor as well! You can learn more about Axactor’s debt collection solution here.
Axactor Norway was the first in the debt collection industry to implement and offer secure and cost-efficient account-to-account payments for their customers and consumers. Their company’s focus on technical innovation and user-experience made them an ideal early adopter and development partner for us. Open banking payments and adoption have come a long way since it was first implemented and companies like Axactor continue to lead the way.
Neonomics AS is licensed as a Payment Institution (PI), Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) and Account Information Service Provider (AISP), issued by the Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanstilsynet) passported across the EU.