options in Intelec
you understand our design for setting up payments
The topic -
any collection system, accepting payments from debtors is a key part of the
system. In a flexible collection system, there would be many options for setting
up payments (e.g. processing payments today, post-dated check options, managing
payment arrangements etc.). With Intelec, where the method of payment can be
used in decision-making, there are additional considerations to be made. This
paper will describe these areas and the solutions we have built.
Many years ago, there were only two types of payments we had to consider - cash
and checks. Today, we have to also deal with "checks by phone", post-dated
checks, credit cards and electronically processed checks and credit cards. In
Intelec, our goal is to allow you to work with and accept any form of payment.
Some transactions such as setting up a "check by phone" are handled
by the collector, while others such as a mailed in post-dated check are usually
handled within a payment processing section of the operation.
Intelec, we support the following. Note that the features described refer to
Version 8.25 of Intelec. Some features are not available in prior releases.
We can handle the following.
that are mailed and and post-dated checks that are received
- Cash payments
checks (checks by phone) whether they be for today or for future dates. These
can be set up by a user or added through an IVR application and API's that
are utilized for interfacing that application to Intelec.
cards can be used to make a payment today, or can be used to make the payments
on a recurring arrangement.
also support pre-authorized payments (arrangement with the debtor's bank).
This is more common in Canada and will not be discussed in detail.
we support these individual options, we also need to consider the practical
aspects of each transaction. As an example a debtor may set up a payment arrangement
to pay $200 a month, by mailing checks every month. Later on, they may call
in, ask you to cancel the check option and use their credit card for the payments.
One of the credit card payments may later fail to be authorized. After the due
date, you may talk to the debtor and may have to process a one-time payment
using the credit card. What about account processing? If the debtor is on a
performing "payment arrangement" you probably do not want the account
to be presented to a collector. But what constitutes a payment arrangement?
Is a series of checks a payment arrangement? What about a series of payments
using a credit card? Within Intelec, you can make decisions based on the "existence
of a payment arrangement". As you can see, we face some significant challenges
as we try to make all of these options work together.
How we approach the problem
We have tried to design the software based on the practical operational aspects
of each transaction (the interaction between the collector and the debtor).
The options for receiving checks in the mail are easy to understand. The challenges
arise when we deal with payment arrangements, credit cards or checks that are
set up by a collector. We believe that the following is a good representation
of the possible transactions.
collector will determine if the debtor wants to make a single payment or set
up a payment arrangement.
we are dealing with a single payment, then the debtor can mail a check, set
up a direct check or use a credit card.
- To set up a direct check,
the collector would go to the direct checks screen and enter the information,
with today's date for the check date. If the debtor wants to wait a few days,
then the check date can be in the future. All transactions that are set up
through direct checks are automatically added to the post-dated check system.
That is because we use the post-dated checks module to generate letters to
the debtor and to keep accounts away from the queues. When you set up a series
of direct checks it is not necessary to set up a payment arrangement, but
there are other things to consider as we will point out later on.
- For a credit card payment,
the collector would go to the credit card screen and set up the credit card
information. They would next have to respond to the question as to whether
the card was being used for a payment arrangement or a single payment. For
a one-time payment, they should take the path of the single payment. They
will be asked to enter the amount and the payment will appear on a report
or be electronically processed the next time the required option is run.
- If the debtor wants to
make a credit card payment a few days from today, we need a different approach.
In this case you could set up credit card information and then use the non-linear
payment arrangement option to set up a single payment. The non-linear arrangement
is very flexible since it can be used to set up a specific number of payments
for different dates. But since most payments would be made on a specific day
of the month, the standard payment arrangement will meet most requirements.
We believe that both features are necessary, and that the best option should
be used depending on the circumstances.
- What about a series of
checks? Do you set them up as direct checks (and postdates) only? Do you need
to also set up a payment arrangement? As long as we have a direct check or
post-dated check, an account is kept out of the queues. But what if one payment
does NOT get processed on the due date and there are other checks to be processed
in the future? The account will not be automatically presented to a collector
because we have post-dated checks pending. On the other hand, a payment arrangement
would have picked up the missed payment and handled the situation based on
the rules that were defined. The same logic applies to a series of credit
card payments. It is for this reason that we have suggested that a payment
arrangement is set up for all recurring payments. It allows you to control
the process and allow smart codes to make decisions within the automated thinking
you can set up. Try to look at the payment arrangement options as the "workflow
driver", and the direct checks or credit cards as the "payment methods"
- We believe that it will help everyone understand how the modules interact
with each other.
- For a payment system
to be effective, it must be flexible. It must allow all options to be handled.
- With regard to payment
arrangements, the standard and non-linear options allow you to set up any
form of recurring payment. For a single payment in the future, you can utilize
the "Promise amount" on the account detail screen or a non-linear
arrangement with a single payment. We recommend the latter option, because
it allows you to send a reminder in the future!
- With regard to the payment
options, direct checks allow you to process a payment today and in the future,
using a debtor's checking account. The future dates will be shown as post-dates
and letters will be generated from within the post-dated checks module. The
direct checks can be transferred to a check printing system or a clearing
house such as EPP for which Quantrax has an interface. The post-dated checks
that were created by the direct checks, can be electronically put into a payment
batch, edited and posted.
- With reference to credit
cards, this is more complex because there could be several exceptions.
- You can set up a
single (one-time payment for today, using the credit card window)
- You can set up the
credit card window and link the credit card to a payment arrangement.
This can be a standard arrangement or a non-linear arrangement.
- If the down payment
on a standard arrangement, or the first payment on the non-linear arrangement,
is for today, the credit card logic will usually take place during nightly
processing. If we are at the end of the month, you will probably want
to run that credit card today. The system will pop a warning window saying
that the date of the first payment is today, and that you can have the
credit card process today and link the arrangement to the credit card.
If the user accepts, the due amount is moved into the "One-time"
amount on the credit card screen. That amount will not be picked up again.
The reason we do NOT automatically set up the first payment on the credit
card is because it is possible that the collector needs to review the
information stored (e.g. the card may not have been used for several months.)
- What if one payment
does not get authorized and you want to process the payment again, 2 days
after the due date? No problem. There is a function key from the credit
card screen, for "adding an amount". This can be used even when
the credit card is linked to the payment arrangement. It prompts for the
one-time payment amount and will add that to the credit card window. It
will be processed when the credit card interface is run the next time.
- Once a credit card
has been linked to a payment arrangement, you can send a letter before
the due date, through the payment arrangement features. But in this case,
it is not a reminder to pay, but a notification that a credit card will
be used against the promise. For this reason, we have different letters
that can be generated for credit cards, through the payment arrangements
- What if you are using
the credit card to make payments on an arrangement, and you want to always
process the credit card a few days before the due date? This is also possible
- Once the credit card has been set up for use with the payment arrangement,
you can use the field to the right of "Use for payment arrangements"
to set up the days in advance that the payment should be processed. (Days
in advance is the title on the screen). This field is only displayed when
the credit card is linked to the payment arrangement. This field is protected
if the user does not have access to the "area" of payments within
system security. This field must be used with caution, since it changes
the payment processing date. This may affect the legal requirements since
you may be required to notify the debtor before using a credit card for
recurring payments. It is for this reason that there is additional "security"
for this field.
We do understand that the options may seem somewhat complex. We feel that some
complexity can be expected, because we are offering -
- The ability to handle
very different types of payment methods within the same system
- Control of the queues
based on the types of payments pending
- The ability to meet the
letter requirements for credit cards, payment arrangements and checks
- The ability to make decisions
based on the promise status of a debtor (e.g. On a payment arrangement that
is performing or not performing)
- Operational tools such
as the automatic creation of payment batches, reducing the amount of manual
Quantrax Corporation Inc.
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© Quantrax Corporation, Inc. 2008