In this episode, Stephanie Eidelman, insideARM President & CEO, interviews Walker White, CEO of Oliver. Watch Stephanie's conversation with Walker, or read it below.
I'm here today with Walker White, the CEO of Oliver technology. I'm thrilled to have you with me. Tell us a little bit about your company; who are your customers and what pain points do you address?
Thank you very much for having me on today. I look forward to the conversation. Oliver technology corporation, or just Oliver, developed a revolutionary collections solution. It is a 100% cloud-based application, focused initially on the complexities of the litigation channel in particular. Our solution called Oliver CLX, which stands for collections litigation exchange, automates and orchestrates all of the repetitive, legal, and regulatory processes, bringing all of the required parties together onto a single platform to drive more revenue, help them maintain rigorous compliance, and ultimately simplify the litigation process. If you want to imagine a different path, today and historically, particularly in litigation channel, but also in an agency, we continually pass the files around from the creditor to a master servicer, maybe to a law firm, to a process server, and so on.
Basically, we're leaking value in this process.
And each step of the way there's data transfer, there's lots of context; it leads to questions, email, calls, and other inefficiencies. Basically, we're leaking value in this process. And with Oliver, really what we've developed is a modern solution, rather than passing a file around like a game of telephone, let's use a single platform where everyone can collaborate on the file together and operate much more efficiently. Think of all the systems you use like that, that are like that today. There's LinkedIn, there's Facebook where people come together who want to work together. Well with Oliver, we basically built a platform where all the people who have to work together, the creditor, the servicers, the law firms, the vendor, the process servers, appearance counsel…They can all come together and work efficiently. Our customers include creditors but can also include debt buyers, master servicers, and even law firms who just want to accelerate their litigation strategy. So, we have customers across the board and we're a new entrant into the space and just happy to be here.
In the last week or two, of course, we have all been consumed by this case that came out of nowhere, Hunstein. In case somebody hasn't heard about it, here is a link to read about it. So this is just the latest in a string of disruptions that happen in a heavily compliance-focused environment like ours. As a technology provider, I'd be interested in your perspective on how the market can avoid these compliance fire drills and how they can, of course, they can't avoid them happening, but how can they deal with them in a better way?
Yeah, that's a great point. And, anyone who's in our market and doesn't know about this, that's a whole different set of questions! I think Hunstein is an example of why change is required in this industry and why new technology is just so important. If we just look back over the last 15-18 months, think about the things that have come along. We've had COVID -- obviously unexpected macro activity. And then we had Regulation F, which was expected; everyone knew, we had lots of comments, but it still requires a lot of change. And now we've got Hunstein, which is unexpected. All of these things are forcing change in processes.
And some of those changes can be very, very expensive and they can be very, very disruptive. And ultimately, we're exposing many people in the supply chain, if you will, from the creditor to the master servicer, to the law firm, etc. We're exposing them all to compliance risk. And I think that the regulators have made it pretty clear over the years that the creditors are always going to be on the hook for their consumers.
We think the trend is towards what we'll call "creditor-managed collections," rather than the more decentralized approach that we have today. This is not going to be creditors dictating the steps that a law firm or others have to take, but rather think of it as them setting the table. And, that's where a platform like Oliver is very valuable. Where they can say, we're going to manage all the consumer data in a centralized repository, and we're going to farm it out to everyone who needs access to it. This allows those creditors to implement, in a configurable group of servicers or vendors that they want to implement their collection strategy, facilitate the data transmissions because it's the creditor's platform.
That allows us to step right around the Hunstein problem because it's not going to a third party and then from that third party to someone else. It's going to be coming out of this creditor-managed environment straight there. So the first party is authorizing the release of that information. And then we're storing and managing all of that information inside of the platform. It doesn't matter whether it's for agency, legal, or debt sales. So ultimately we're kind of centralizing and enforcing the consumer preference data side of that as well, as required by Reg F. So, in addition to our collections litigation platform, giving creditors this unprecedented oversight into that process, because we could also have this built-in federal state, local, and venue-specific laws, rules, or procedures.
So from a before and after perspective, we’re not playing telephone anymore, where we're going to take the file and toss it to this person, then toss to the next person, but rather from a technology perspective, the creditor's going to put it into a place where everyone can operate on it seamlessly. And I think that's the difference that we're going to see going forward. It's going to ensure that we're going to be able to have a very compliant and supportable environment.
It's interesting that you talk about centralization as a way to kind of standardize or maybe stabilize the process. Is there more you want to say about that and how that looks different tomorrow than it looked yesterday?
I think a good way to consider this is to look at it through the lens of the compliance being built into the solution. Where historically the creditor would send a file out, they would rely upon their servicers, the firms, and so on to manage it. But think about something like Turbo Tax, which took all the laws, rules, and procedures of the tax code, and basically brought it into a platform where even someone like myself can file my taxes online because they built all that compliance into it. So the actual application itself has these built-in compliance rules, such that anyone who's operating in that environment is picking up the benefit of it.
So rather than having a person say, we sent a demand letter, and let's make sure 35 days from now, not 34 days from now and not 36, that we pick it up. We have a platform that says that was sent in. Now, the suit is going to be filed. It's going to automatically be released -- never a day early, never a day late, always on time. When it comes to things like proving attorney meaningful involvement, if you've got a platform that is able to see and oversee all the processes, it's very easy for them to be able to say, for instance, the attorney looked at this matter for seven minutes while they evaluated the balance and who it was being mailed to, and so on. So it's very easy to approve attorney meaningful involvement and all sorts of other aspects of the business. I think ultimately that's the big difference we're seeing; rather than leaving it to chance and to the individual parties, the creditor is going to be in a position to be able to oversee that. Not force it, but oversee it and make sure everything's being followed in the way they expect it to.
It's really an interesting example, given this current Hunstein situation. We're in a position of having to demonstrate why it's so important for organizations to be able to use outside third-party experts, in this case, technology. If Hunstein goes in a way that we hope it doesn't, what it's basically saying is that every single collection agency needs to become an expert in all of these things. And here's a great example -- You've spent however many years developing this technology to build the compliance in. That's a specialized skill, right? You've spent a long time developing this and to ask every company to duplicate that from scratch…you could say they could buy you. Well, only one company could buy you, and then you're gone. That's it. And all the others don't have it. That's a great example of how specialized these services like you are.
If you go further on that, like what you're seeing with the mailing vendors in this particular case, but it also applies to many of the other activities that we undertake all day. We do scrubs, we do asset searches, we do skip tracing. Those are all specialized skills and we can solve a lot of that problem. And again, as I think the Hunstein case is an interesting one in that they even called out that it potentially is going to cost a lot of money, they don't think that it actually is going to improve privacy at all. So it makes you ask why they did it then, but, irrespective of that, you know, they're just interpreting what they're reading.
I think that, at some point, people (particularly creditors) are going to put their hands up and just say I'm at risk here. And so I'm just going to set a table that I can control and make sure you operate. I'm going to set the dining room table. We're all going to eat at the table. And we're all going to be fed really well. But basically, we're going to set the table with what are the boundaries of what we allow to happen. I think that's going to be good for everybody because ultimately, I think the regulators are really going to be looking at that creditor and that creditor is ultimately going to be responsible for that tree of folks that are underneath them.
Yes, and as we may remember under former CFPB Director Cordray, originally as it relates to debt collection, they were going to write rules for first-parties. They set that aside. The Trump administration didn’t pick it up. I would expect that to be picked up again under this new administration. So, this (your platform) nicely anticipates that.
Absolutely. And again, I think it ultimately comes down to the fact that we have better technologies today, and better -- we'll use the technical term -- it's called "patterns". There are better patterns for solving collaborative problems like this. And, I think Oliver is a step in that direction, establishing a collaborative platform for all of the parties to work together in a compliant, efficient manner to achieve an outcome that we're all after. This is good for all the parties involved, but also for the consumer as well, to make it as palatable as possible.
Yes. Anything that provides consistency in the process is going to be better for the consumer. All right, wonderful Walker. I really appreciate it. It's been a pleasure to get to know you a little bit, and I look forward to talking with you more in the future.
Thank you very much, Stephanie, I appreciate the opportunity today.