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Interview with eCapital’s Charles Sheppard, COO, on the ECapital Connect Platform
September 27, 2021
By Eileen Wubbe
In August, eCapital, a leading capital solutions provider for small and medium-sized businesses in North America and the UK, announced the launch of a new commercial credit card program with Visa, the world leader in digital payments. The eCapital connect platform is a hub where clients can access their money from their factoring account and line of credit utilizing a Visa Commercial Credit Card or by transferring funds to their external bank instantly 24 hours a via Visa Direct. In addition, eCapital clients can issue Visa Commercial Cards to their employees or departments with enhanced spending controls and reporting, allowing them to control and consolidate spending across their business through a centralized platform. Prior to this collaboration, the ability to send funds to clients was limited to ACH or wire; which can only be sent during banking hours. Through this collaboration, the Company can offer clients instantaneous access to their eCapital accounts 24 hours a day 7 days a week through a commercial credit card or Visa Direct.
TSL Express sat down with eCapital’s Charles Sheppard, chief operating officer, to discuss more on what he describes as a revolutionary partnership that allows customers more money, with faster access and less hassle, to be more control in how money is received and when it’s spent.
TSL: Charles, can you give our readers some background on your role as chief operating officer at eCapital and what was your involvement in overseeing the new partnership with Visa?
Sure. I’m responsible for all operating functions and procedures across our organization. I work with our corporate leadership team to create well-defined business strategies, and then transform them into achievable goals that can support our performance and growth across all eCapital divisions. Before this, I was president of eCapital’s Freight Factoring division. I had moved to the chief operating officer role to concentrate on bringing systems and processes together for all the acquisitions that have taken place over the last number of years. And, of course, I’m responsible for the release of our payment solutions and, other technologies of that kind fall under my purview.
We worked very closely with Visa on this exciting new offering. With my background on the freight factoring side of the business, we were able to ensure this new program would meet the needs of our clients and be responsive to industry trends.
TSL: Can you walk us through how this new program with Visa works?
Sheppard: For us, this is almost a new product category. Our customers are constantly telling us they want access to more money, they want access to money faster, and with less hassle. With the launch of this particular product, we’re trying to accomplish providing more treasury solutions to customers, freeing up the customer and giving them more control over when and how they can access their funds.
The Visa product is revolutionary, specifically for the factoring space. The traditional method of funding a customer in the ABL or factoring space is to send those funds to customers via ACH or wire. The challenge that presents is that we are limited to sending money to our customers based on cutoff times at the bank. Whether we’re sending an ACH or a wire, we’re really at the mercy of what I would call the hours of traditional money transfer services.
So, now when we purchase an invoice from a customer and the funds go into the customer’s eCapital account, they have immediate access to those funds by using a Visa Commercial Card. They are no longer limited to receiving those funds in traditional banking hours, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Additionally, using the Visa Direct real-time push payments platform, customers can direct funds from their eCapital account, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, directly to their bank account in amounts up to $10,000. That also frees up operating times so that we can purchase invoices, fund customers’ accounts, and we are not so constrained with the cutoff times for sending an ACH or wire. The commercial card and Visa Direct offer a unique collaboration to our customers. We’re ticking all three boxes: more money, faster access with less hassle, and, in essence, giving the customer more control over how they receive their money and when they spend it.
With the Visa Commercial card, our customers have the advantage of issuing cards to their employees; they can create spending limits and categories for where the cards can be used. It’s a true expense management system for our customers. This is something that we’re now offering to the small- to medium-size space to customers that would not normally have access to this type of card program.
TSL: How long was this program in the making?
Sheppard: We’ve been working on the technical aspects of the solution for at least 18 months now. Certainly, as payments technologies expand, I think customers’ choices are going to expand, and I would expect that the factoring or ABL space would also start to adopt these technologies to provide more options to the consumer.
This is definitely a unique design in that when we purchase an invoice from a customer and they use their Visa, first, it takes from their account of funds that are there and, secondly, if the funds are not there, it then takes from their line of credit. It allows the customer to manage their cash flow in the most cost-effective way possible.
TSL: What was the process like in partnering with Visa?
Sheppard: Visa has been a fantastic partner. I think the process was really for us coming up with a use case for what it is that they provide. We knew that we wanted to be able to get money in the hands of our customers quicker and not being confined to regular banking hours. Visa has an innovation lab that supports technology and supports new use cases for their technology, and we were very fortunate to be able to pair up with the right people there that guided us through the process. They worked with our tech team, introduced us to processers and partners that helped us get to where we are today. It was probably a two-year process including the development of the technology. I can’t say enough about how great the Visa team was in supporting us through the process.
TSL: What are your expectations going forward with the Visa commercial credit card program?
Sheppard: Well, now, if I only knew that. However, I can tell you, we’ve been beta testing this for some time, and we have tremendous interest in the product. We expect it to be a game-changer for us. I believe it’s something that has significant demand, at least on an anecdotal basis, and expect a vast majority of our current and future customers will take advantage of this as an option.
I think being able to embrace technology and provide a variety of payment solutions to businesses is something that is on the cusp of expanding and all kinds of new technologies are going to be available to provide a much broader option set to small- and medium-sized businesses, and trucking included.
The eCapital Visa Commercial credit card will be phased into all existing freight clients over the course of the next several months, while new clients will be offered the program upon signing up with eCapital. The Company plans to roll out this offering to its other divisions after the full integration of its freight factoring clients.