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Web-based Self-Service Debt Collection Makes the News


It’s not often that bank collection techniques make the business press, and when they do, it’s usually not a good story. But last week’s WSJ article by personal finance writer Jane Kim featured a relatively positive spin on how banks are working harder to collect revolving credit debt.

She cited two examples of Web-based self-service applications trying to turn early collection efforts into a non-confrontational, positive experience including:

  • WaMu’s self-service website, <>
  • The Virtual Collection Agent powered by Online Resources that is being rolled out by three of the top-10 card issuers. The system was first shown to the public at last year’s Finovate conference (video here)

You can only look at the WaMu collection site if you have a WaMu credit card (screenshot below), but in perusing domain-ownership records, it appears to be hosted by Online Resources, so it likely resembles the screenshot below, a generic mockup from the Online Resources website.

Note the settlement offer listed at the bottom of the page. This offer can be produced dynamically based on input from the user as they use the self-service site.

What’s innovative?
While it won’t work for everyone, collecting past-due debts is one of the trickier areas of bank operations. Financial institutions have to be careful not to be too aggressive early on so they don’t appear heavy-handed and end up driving away an otherwise profitable customer, not to mention that customer’s friends and family.

That’s why a gentle email/text reminder with a link to a self-service support area makes so much sense. Not only can you speed repayments from delinquent borrowers, but also garner valuable goodwill by offering a positive experience via a collaborative online tool. Given the current environment, Web-based collection efforts could maintain precious account relationships.

Virtual collection agent from online resources (19 Sep 2008Virtual Collection Agent from Online Resources 19 Sep 2008

WaMu’s Web-based collection website <> requires a WaMu card number for login  (19 Sept 2008)