Direct Debit is an arrangement made with a bank that allows a business to pull payments directly from a customer’s account on agreed dates, typically to pay recurring bills. It is a common payment method for paying utility bills, health insurance bills, entertainment or lifestyle service subscriptions, etc. For businesses, Direct Debit is convenient and can help to maintain a stable cash flow by automating the collection process. It eliminates the need to chase clients about monthly payments.
However, SMEs usually find difficulties in accessing this feature as it comes with some heavy restrictions and requires complicated paperwork. Running and administrating a paper-based Direct Debit is complex and time-consuming, with dedicated teams of full-time employees needed to set-up, collect and manage the process. As a result, cash and cheques have remained the most common payment options for SMEs well into the 21st century in Malaysia.
Having had experience building the integrated workflow system for the processing of paper Direct Debit mandates for PayNet (Payment Networks Malaysia), Zac Liew and Steve Kucia want to fix the issue and open the doors of digitising this traditionally paper-based process for SMEs—like boutique gyms, monthly subscription services, property management fees collection, just to name a few.
In 2018, the duo launched their Fintech company, Curlec, to make direct debit easy. The novel online solution simultaneously solved the issue of high rejection rates when the customer’s signature frequently mismatched their financial institution’s records during the authorisation process of a paper-based mandate.
Curlec’s system uses the latest technology to automate online Direct Debit payments seamlessly. “Our software replaces the old method of paper workflow with a more efficient cloud-based solution,” shared Zac. Curlec makes the process of collecting recurring payments of varying amounts into a faster, cheaper and far more efficient one. This will reduce the reliance that SMEs place on cash and cheques, and help to propel Malaysia to cashless status.
Curlec transformed Direct Debit from an expensive and manual system to an affordable and automated one with three steps:
E-Mandate Set Up
- Customers sign up by completing an eMandate, which authorises a merchant to collect payment from a customer’s account when they are due. This process is completed instantly with a 100% approval rate.
Automated Payment Collection
- When payments are due, Curlec collects the necessary files to enable the debiting and crediting of bank accounts. Payments then get settled directly into the business’ accounts in a seamless manner.
Auto Account Reconciliation
- Successful transactions allow for automatic reconciliation with a merchant’s accounting system. For unsuccessful transactions, a one-off Instant Pay (FPX) enables customers to pay with a different bank account or credit card.
Traditionally, customers can log into Curlec’s portal to view the transactions record for their direct debit payments. If they want to alter or terminate the service and payment, they can also do so in the portal, at the discretion of their merchant. On the other side of the transaction, merchants can sign-in to the Curlec Dashboard to track all of their collections—with details like its frequency, customer name and transaction status. On top of that, they can also manage and cancel the recurring payments all on one platform.
Since its launch in 2018, Curlec has processed more than RM50 million (S$16.6 million) worth of transactions and served companies such as CTOS, Funding Societies, HelloGold and a wide range of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Recently, Curlec has completed its seed funding round led by Captii Ventures. In an interview with the Business Times, Zac Liew stated, “We’re delighted to have secured funding from Captii Ventures and are looking forward to bringing direct debit to the Malaysian SME market and beyond.”
Curlec has joined ZOM-IN to collaborate in efforts to empower aspiring youths. Join us now at www.zom-in.com to participate in exciting events coming soon!