At Aye Finance, we never back down from a good challenge. So, when our Managing Director, Sanjay Sharma, threw us the challenge of enabling 95% of our micro-entrepreneur clients to adopt digital direct pay, we said ‘Aye Aye, Captain!’ and buckled down to make it happen.
Meet ACH, Trumping Classic Modes of Payment at Aye Since 2017!
The process of introducing ACH (Automated Clearing House) at Aye started in 2017, and today, we’ve successfully introduced 95% of our clients – all of whom belong to the unorganized sector – to direct bank debit or ACH. Before we discuss the ‘how’ of it, let’s first talk about the ‘why’.
Over the course of the last four years, many banks in India have started supporting digital direct payments. Highly convenient, error-free, and time-efficient, ACH absolutely revolutionized the face of payments in India. Gone were the days when one had to stand in line to deposit a cheque which – ever so often – was rejected because of a clerical error.
Therefore, when it came to getting our customers to also step into the world of digital banking, the eagerness was palpable. Many of the issues that were faced such as cash risk, untimely payments, and more could be easily resolved! Hence, needless to say, we took on our MD’s challenge with the utmost vigor.
The Journey Matters Too!
Customer Cooperation & Branch Staff Initiative – It takes two to tango!
Now that our goal was clear, the next step was educating everyone involved on the benefits of using ACH for monthly repayments.
Preparing our ground team for liftoff – The first step we took was conducting training sessions for all our Branch Operations Officers on the most efficient ways of getting the ACH forms printed, filled and signed by customers.
Getting our customers onboard – Once the Aye team was briefed and ready to go, the next thing on the agenda was bringing our clients up to speed.
First off, we started by making field visits and calls exclusively to discuss the perks and benefits of digital direct pay with our customers. Our outstanding collection numbers have always spoken volumes for our clients’ constant strive to make their payments on time. Hence, the moment they realized that ACH would make that a lot more hassle-free, they were ready to play!
There were a couple of things they needed to be mindful of while using ACH, such as –
- Ensuring the minimum bank balance required to activate ACH.
- Filling out the forms correctly to make sure there were no data discrepancies or variations in their signature.
We’re happy to say that their receptiveness to the banks’ guidelines and willingness to try something new made the whole process a lot smoother.
It takes two to tango – Even with ACH forms, the likelihood of the payment getting rejected by banks still remained. Hence, it was important for Aye’s Branch Operations Officers and our customers to work in unison to minimize the occurrence of error.
To combat the potential for human oversights, we introduced pre-filled forms that just have to be printed, stamped and signed. But, even then, sometimes the print quality wasn’t acceptable or incongruencies in the stamps and signatures gave banks ground for rejection.
In spite of all the potential pitfalls, we managed to streamline the process to a T over the course of one year. By ensuring that our branch staff and customers were well versed with all the guidelines, we have now reached a stage where nearly every form that comes to us is processable!
ACH + AYE – A Perfect Match!
Once we initiated 95% of our micro-entrepreneurs to the ACH ecosystem, the benefits were visible on every front. Our customers saw reduced transaction costs and elevated user experience, while our branch staff was thankful for the streamlining of an otherwise tedious process. Cash risk too was reduced as our field staff no longer needed to personally collect cash and cheques.
Here’s what they have to say on the benefits of ACH –
- Mayank Mathur, Head of Operations and Customer Service
“We all find it very convenient to use ACH instead of other payment modes because it reduces the workload. Once activated, the EMI is transferred to us on its own, and we don’t have to contact the customers each time. This opens up a lot of time for other work. Also, cash risk is reduced as the staff doesn’t have to carry cash each time with the risk of theft, etc. Another huge benefit of ACH is a reduced bounce rate. Collection officers too have a more manageable workload because of this. We are really satisfied with ACH.”
“We, at Aye, have believed in promoting non-cash payment modes for our customers since the beginning and ACH has been our first choice of mode for our customer’s repayments. Since our customers belong to micro-enterprises (small manufacturers, traders and agri sector) who are not very regular with their banking, it was difficult to onboard customers for ACH in the beginning. Cash used to be their first choice of preference for repayments. Our field teams have put a lot of effort into creating awareness in our customers on the benefits of ACH – smooth clearance experience for our customers, faster payment clearance, low cash risk for our field employees, improvement in banking behavior of customers, and higher operational efficiency for Aye. Through technology and rigorous training of our staff, we have been able to drastically reduce our mandate rejections and have consistently managed 95% of our customers on ACH.”
- Rohit Arora, Branch Operations Officer, Alwar Branch
“Repaying via ACH saves me time and it is hassle-free as well. I don’t have to visit the branch every month to pay cash; this saves me time and transport costs because the branch is about 5 km from my place whereas the bank is nearby. I just go to the bank once every couple of months and deposit enough for 2-3 EMIs. Moreover, the transaction records reflect in my bank statement causing my CIBIL score to improve as well. Hence, I can take loans in the future also if the need arises. I am happy with the service!”
- Satish Chand Sharma, Customer, Alwar Branch
All in all, it’s definitely been a change worth making – and one we’re constantly working to perfect. From keeping a close eye on the turnaround time required for each payment to go from the branches to our Head Office to the bank, to doing monthly evaluations via our ACH activation report, we are always looking for ways to improve.