Shaw Systems Loan Servicing Platform Integration Saves Time for United Auto Credit
United Auto Credit is a California based non-prime automotive lender serving auto dealers and their customers across the United States since 1996. The company has developed programs that make it possible to approve loans across the credit spectrum including first-time buyers and customers who have experienced a bankruptcy. Controlling back office costs is critical to success in the automotive lending business. In the past, considerable time was required to manually process data received from and sent to payment channels, repossession data providers and the company’s website, among others. Most of this manual processing has been eliminated by switching to a different loan servicing platform that makes it easy to develop interfaces to external and internal systems. The result has been a significant reduction in back office processing costs.
Switching to a new loan servicing platform
In the past, United Auto Credit ran its loan servicing operations on an AS400 software package. There were problems with the stability of this software and concerns of the survival of the software’s developer. “We looked at several alternative vendors and selected Shaw Systems because of its larger size, long history as an independent company, and open platform architecture that makes it relatively easy to interface to without having to engage consultants,” said Warren W. Hart, Director of Enterprise Architecture for United Auto Credit. “Since then, we have developed over 40 interfaces to and from companies that we do business with. These interfaces have been developed without changing Shaw’s core platform so new versions and updates can be implemented with ease.”
Connecting to payment channels
A payment engine developed by United Auto Credit accepts payment from payment channels such as Western Union, MoneyGram, SpeedPay, Ace Cash Express, ACI Worldwide, and PayNearMe. The payment engine enters the payments into the appropriate Shaw Systems tables to record the payments. Most of the payment channels run hourly and a few run once per day. Immediately after receiving the payment, the payment engine cancels any scheduled calls as well as any other communications with the customer. If the customer’s car is out on an assignment for repossession, the repossession order is automatically placed on hold through the interface with the Recovery Data Network (RDN).
RDN connects auto lending institutions with repossession companies, field visit companies, skip‐tracing companies, forwarding companies and auto auctions. United Auto Credit previously interfaced with RDN through RDN’s web portal that can be used to create an assignment for repossession and other tasks. This approach required that collectors type all the information on each assignment into the portal which took significant amounts of time. Now, collectors assign an account for collection and select a repo firm from a screen in the Shaw Systems collections module. Collectors can either assign the repo to a specific agent or let RDN pick the agent. An important advantage of the new interface is that the information that is already in the system such as contact information and vehicle information is passed directly from the system so it does not need to be re-entered by the collector. The result is a substantial increase in collector productivity.
Integration with website
In the past, there was no direct link between United Auto Credit’s customer-facing website and its loan servicing systems. Customers logged into the website and could see their name, address, phone number and current balance but not their payment history. Customers could change their address and phone number on the website but the changes did not carry through to the loan servicing systems. Instead, IT administrators generated a report each day with the customer changes and they were manually entered into the database. The website has since been rebuilt so that it closely integrates with Shaw Systems loan servicing using Web services. Today, when a customer changes their address or phone number, the information instantly updates the loan servicing databases. Customers can also now add alternate addresses, enter and modify email addresses and employment information, and opt in for electronic statements or texting. Customers can see their payment history as well as past due amounts and days delinquent.
United Auto Credit also developed an interface to Solutions by Text which it uses for two-way communications with customers who opt in receive text messages. Text messages are automatically generated based on business rules, for example, if a customer promised to make a payment and the payment is not received. Text messages are only sent during safe harbor hours which are designed to ensure that they are not contacted by collectors outside of normal business hours. The texts are automatically entered into the contact records for each customer and replies to the texts also come though the interface and are automatically entered into the contact records.
Capturing vehicle location information
United Auto Credit developers built an interface to DRN which provides a vehicle intelligence solutions that flags vehicle locations to provide a more complete view of customer accounts and increase recoveries. DRN obtains vehicle location information from thousands of license plate readers, mounted on tow trucks, mall security vehicles, police cars, at the entrances to store parking lots, on toll booths or along city streets and highways.
Notification, Response, and Support Principles
Another interface is driven by a United Auto Credit developed monitoring system that identifies problems with the company’s many interfaces on a 24X7 basis. There are over 300 processes and interfaces that are executed daily. All events are monitored and logged. When a problem is identified the monitoring system which is connected to a service called PagerDuty, sends a notification via email to the person on United Auto Credit’s IT staff who is on duty. If the person on duty doesn’t respond, then the issue is escalated to a supervisor. This approach resolves interface problems in an average of 14 minutes. The goal is for IT to recognize all servicing related issues and have them corrected prior to the business being aware that there was an issue in the first place.
Principles for developing interfaces
United Auto Credit developers adhere to several principles in developing these interfaces. As much as possible, the interfaces are implemented in Microsoft SQL Server, the database that Shaw Systems loan servicing system runs on. It’s easy to find developers with experience in working on this database. In most interfaces, data is brought in by accessing an Web application programming interface (API) using representational state transfer (REST) based communications. A SQL stored procedure is used to unencrypt the data if necessary and perform a series of checks on the file. If there is a problem with the file, it is automatically downloaded again and re-validated. Once the file is successfully validated, its contents are written onto the SQL Server tables used by Shaw Systems loan servicing systems.
“These interfaces have more than justified the decision to select Shaw Systems by automating tasks that previously had to be performed manually and thereby saving our collectors and IT administrators large amounts of time,” Hart said. “Shaw’s open architecture and support for Microsoft SQL Server made it possible to develop these interfaces internally without having to rely on external consultants. The robustness of the Shaw Systems software and the strong support provided by its developers have further validated our decision.”