Fintech company PAIR Finance is attracting attention in the debt collection industry. Founder Stephan Stricker and his team do a lot of things differently than the rest of the industry. With success. Reason enough for the ombudswoman of the German Debt Collection Association and former Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries to pay a visit to the makers of the future of debt collection.
Berlin, early September 2021. In the startup cube at Zoologischer Garten, the PAIR Finance founder and CEO and his team receive Brigitte Zypries. The fintech, described by the BILD newspaper as “debt collection with a heart,” is a fledgling member of the Federal Association of German Debt Collection Companies (BDIU), whose ombudswoman is Zypries. The aim of the visit: to get to know each other and exchange ideas about the opportunities offered by innovation and tech in receivables management.
130 employees in five cities in four countries. During a tour of the new offices that PAIR Finance moved into just a few weeks ago, CEO Stephan Stricker explains: “We needed more space. Even though it looks empty here at the moment. Since Corona, we have been working remotely. The office currently serves the team as an occasional meeting place and functions more as a co-working space.” But that will hopefully change soon.
The office overlooks the Tiergarten, Zoo and Gedächtniskirche. After a look at the central open space area, you pass by modern meeting rooms and group workstations. This is where the latest projects are being fine-tuned: The fintech just launched its European expansion in Austria. Stephan Stricker and Brigitte Zypries stand in front of the photo gallery: The PAIR Finance team at the last summer party – a day at a Berlin lake in August with the whole company. Coffee and pastries await in the spacious lounge in Scandi design.
AI solutions are in demand
Does the startup maven Zypries have any personal debt collection experience? “Yes, during my time as a member of the Bundestag, I once fell victim to identity theft,” says Zypries. She learned from the debt collection service provider that this was a common scam. The facts of the case could be clarified. For the former Economics Minister, one thing is clear: debt collection companies are important for a functioning economy. Stephan Stricker presents the PAIR Finance pitch deck: founded in 2016, PAIR Finance is a pioneer and pacesetter in an industry facing digital transformation. This includes the trend towards mobile payment options for consumers as well as the new potential of artificial intelligence.
50 developers, data analysts and behavioral researchers are at the heart of PAIR Finance’s machine learning engine. “People don’t have to contact us to enter into a legally binding payment contract,” explains Stephan Stricker. “This is a huge step towards increasing payment acceptance in debt collection. We want to give back self-determination to defaulting payers.” The technology is unique: after the profile analysis comes the personalized message, because no two people are alike. Consumers are addressed where they are most likely to perceive the message: by mail, SMS or Whatsapp – and not by standardized mail.
Cooperation instead of confrontation
45 percent of non-payers in debt collection have simply forgotten the bill, 45 percent cannot pay it. “What can you offer people without financial means?”, Brigitte Zypries wants to know, because: “Hartz IV recipients can’t pay.” Where payment is not possible, PAIR Finance offers fair installment solutions and deferments: “We want to find the right solution for each person, and legal dunning proceedings are the very last step we want to avoid,” says Stricker. In the end, consumers should be satisfied with us. The Customer Satisfaction Score shows that this is accomplished in most cases. Consumers can rate PAIR Finance after they have made their payment: 86 percent are satisfied with the AI debt collection service provider despite payment problems.
After two hours, Brigitte Zypries has to move on. A visit to the cinema is planned for the evening, a documentary film about strong women in post-war politics. The ombudswoman thanks: “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet you and am convinced that you will continue on your successful path.”
Thank you very much for your visit, Brigitte Zypries!