Blog by Phil Stark, CEO at TALKINGTECH 

Ever since TALKINGTECH was founded in New Zealand over 30 years ago, we’ve been committed to designing and building our own technologies with customer-centric innovation firmly in mind. Our expertise in bill payments and collections services results from a culture where R&D has always been at the core of every department. After all, each team is closest to its individual function and can better anticipate and recommend the technology advancements to pursue.

With the pace of change in today’s world being as fast as it is, we realised that there was value in setting up a dedicated team to run a robust innovation process, fit for our international organisation.

In 2015, we set up an Innovation Lab at our HQ in New Zealand to help us develop new technologies and channels around payments and communications, with the purpose to break new ground in the collections industry.

Innovative Approaches

This approach to innovation ensures that:

• We better meet the needs of our customers, for example helping them to improve results from using our services or in meeting new compliance standards;
• We are well-equipped to create valuable new products and propositions to deliver the very best payment services; and
• We ensure service robustness and reliability in an evolving technological eco-system.

Because we know that the best practical innovative ideas can often be found from those closest to the problem, the Innovation Lab encourages ideas, dialogue and collaboration from employees in every department and from our clients.

To date, the Lab’s main projects include:

• Machine Learning; including investigating TensorFlow. Our hope is that it we’ll be able to better predict who will pay and when
• Social messaging; including Whatsapp integration
• Mobile biometrics; including ‘Pay by Selfie’, to improve security and decrease verification friction.

The Innovation Lab is also currently investigating and assessing how chatbots, speech recognition through services like Siri and Google Assistant, and social media payments can be implemented. TALKINGTECH’s clients will be able to offer even more ways of delivering collection reminders and processing payments in the future.

Innovative Working

An innovation committee oversees and reports on the Lab’s efforts, helping the team to prioritise and approve projects to meet the changing needs of our business and our clients.

Today, as well as the 50-plus ideas proposed by our employees, we hold regular customer workshops to help clients discuss their ideas and pain points, which we could potentially solve for them. Our SMARTIE Income & Expenditure validation tool is an idea that came solely from a meeting with a client who explained their problem to us.

The Innovation Lab has further embedded a culture of agility and discovery so that we can grow and enhance our offering on a continual basis.

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