More than 1.5 million SMEs have borrowed a combined £46bn via the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) – and the first cohort of customers will begin repayments imminently. Collaborating with PwC, Flexys has developed a digital journey that will help lenders manage such a vast repayment process for these businesses.
In a Q&A session with Credit Strategy, chief executive Jon Hickman and chief technology officer Brian Smith explained how the solution will work.
CS: How would you describe the bespoke BBLS journey you’re creating for SMEs?
JH: “There are three key elements to the Flexys BBLS solution now being delivered into high street banks. First is allowing customers to explore and select pay as you grow (PAYG) options, 24/7, independently. Initially, borrowers are invited to log in to our self-service portal where they are taken on a journey to explore the PAYG options that are available.
"Using the bank’s own loan calculator, the platform can illustrate clearly and accurately how each PAYG option affects the parameters of the loan: instalment amount, interest and term. This helps the business owner make an informed decision about which option, if any, is appropriate for them.
“The platform produces an illustration of the choice and confirms the details via a secure message or letter. It then updates the loan management platform where the new repayment schedules will be managed. It’s important to note that a comprehensive immutable audit trail is maintained throughout the engagement, which is available for interrogation through our data analytics module, or for production, to evidence fair and appropriate attempts to collect on the loan.
“The second key element is managing and automating agent tasks to ensure fast and efficient non-digital engagement and collections. In addition to the self-service component, which will manage most of the workload, the agent management platform enables the client to handle any exceptions or corner cases that opt out of the digital journey. It provides high levels of agent automation through configurable workflow, automation of activities, context-sensitive information and analytics.
"The platform assists agents to have informed, timely, relevant and productive engagements while making sure they are not overwhelmed with unnecessary, outdated or distracting information.
“The third key element is debt collection agency (DCA) management. The BBLS platform encompasses a full DCA management solution including the intelligent performance-based segmentation and allocation of accounts to a DCA panel. This includes a follow up based on performance criteria, full management information, dashboarding and analytics-based insight. There is the option to benchmark performance and use machine learning models to continually optimise performance.”
CS: How will this solution alert lenders to SMEs that are struggling with repayments and may need forbearance?
BS: “The platform takes a feed of data from the bank’s loan management system, which can include reference and propensity data together with the bank’s own data on any other products held by the same customers, and their current status. There is also a facility for customers to self-declare issues or forbearance needs.
“As part of the journey, the platform monitors for signs of vulnerability in line with Financial Conduct Authority guidance. During the self-service process, where exceptions occur or when flags are raised about issues such as potential vulnerability, agents can intervene to manage the journey manually, providing additional oversight.”
CS: Tell us about the collaboration between Flexys and PwC.
JH: “PwC has been instrumental in identifying and communicating the requirements of the banking sector during the development of our BBLS management platform. They are delivering the BBLS platform to institutions. The collaboration has knitted together PwC’s expertise in global banking with our technology to deliver a convenient, secure and highly effective solution, as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic.”
Stephen Tebbett, partner at PwC, explained the rationale for working with Flexys on such a major project. He said: “We selected Flexys to develop this specific solution as it puts the end customer at the heart of the solution. The technology helps both banks and their customers, and I’m confident it can be applied to a breadth of other scenarios in the future.”