Financial IT: First of all, we would like to thank you for this interview. Could you please tell us more about collectAI and your background?
Mirko Krauel: The idea of collectAI is to digitise receivables management and put a smart, AI-driven layer on top. This proprietary technology comes into place very early in the process, right after the purchase of a product or service in order to increase collection rates, reduce costs and at the same time protect the customer relationship. It focuses on the idea to centre the process around the customers needs, such as observing and continuously optimising messages, timing and tone of voice. Our services are a win-win-situation for companies (our clients) and end-users (their customers). We were founded in 2016 and currently work for 20 medium and large sized enterprises from all industries. Among those are customer facing e-commerce portals, banks, insurances, digital publishing houses, utilities and b2b companies.
Regarding my background, along with ten years of experience in the area of innovation and financial services, my passion and expertise in FinTech grew and I worked with digitisation, on both sides, startup and corporate. Before I took over as CEO at collectAI, I was a Principal at EY Innovalue, consulting larger banks and payment providers in regards to their digitisation strategy and execution. Before that, I advised clients in their realignment after the financial crisis in 2008. I started off my career as a “traditional” banker, so I do claim to bring in a great deal of knowledge as to why innovation in financial services is necessary, and how to tackle it. What motivates me are colleagues with a high level of individual responsibility and passion for what collectAI does. Personally, I have always lived up to working hard and never giving up.
Financial IT: What is collectAI's unique value proposition? Could you explain us how it works in practice?
Mirko: What drives us is the philosophy that a customer worth serving is a customer worth keeping. Due to sometimes outdated or manual processes, we see that unfortunately customers aren’t served well enough during the invoicing, dunning and debt collection processes. And even worse, usually not even an e-invoice is in place. Focusing on the customer relationship, therefore the ultimate goal to increase customer retention, collectAI’s technology is changing this situation. On a modular basis, we cover the e-invoicing, dunning and debt collection processes on behalf of our clients. As a result, we have experienced a reduction of debt collection cases at up to 30%. This also has the positive effect that the number of returning customers increases.
In practice we take over the whole debt collection process for our clients starting from the e-invoicing over to dunning and debt collection and put a digital layer on top. Of course, the services can also be used on a modular basis, meaning we combine in-house processes with our digital solutions such as sms and email.
Financial IT: What trends do you foresee next in financial services industry?
Mirko: There are a couple of things.
First of all, it is clear, that the industry generally moves over to further digitise traditional processes and products - receivables management is a great example. Everyone has the “problem” that claims remain unpaid, but no one really likes to talk about it and there is only very few digitised. Second point, Artificial Intelligence solutions are also intending to optimise processes and products. It serves, putting the customer in the centre to build solutions. Thirdly, regulatory changes within the EU, such as the PSD2, demonstrate that banks and financial service providers are getting ready to open up to a more open approach.
Financial IT: How does collectAI harness innovation to address these challenges and trends?
Mirko: A lot of our clients, especially large enterprises, come from traditional environments where manual processes have turned receivables management into an inefficient, ineffective and customer neglected topic that is no longer sustainable in our today’s digital environment. Here our digital, AI-based solutions come into play, with KPIs clearly prooving way better results in terms of customer retention, revenues and less debt collection cases.
Financial IT: Going forward what are the next milestones for collectAI?
Mirko: Growth! As every startup company, our aim is to multiply our revenues and customer base. At the same time, we focus on fostering a great company culture. With a fantastic team of around 35 ambitious colleagues, very international and highly talented, we hope to continue that successful path, with a lot of fun at work!