You work hard. Getting paid should be easy. Learn how the exclusive APX program helps you avoid extra fees, stay ethically sound, and get paid lighting fast - all from within your case management software.
About Free Training Friday: Since the beginning of 2017, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney and the Abacus Private Cloud. Since then, we have expanded to also provide free Results CRM and OfficeTools Software trainings. If you would like to request a topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello. Good morning everyone. If you all could just please confirm that you can not only hear me well, but, you can also see our shared screens. Go ahead and raise your hand or just give us a shout out on the chat panel. That would be a big help. What have we got here? All right, Sean, Charity, Cindy, Patricia. Welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Good morning, good afternoon, wherever you're joining us from.
My name is Andrew Perez and I'm online content manager here at Abacus Next. I want to thank you for signing up for our webinar today, Getting Paid Faster with Abacus Payment Exchange, APX for short. But, before we get started, just a quick couple of house keeping notes. Please feel free to submit your questions throughout the presentation using the chat panel, and we'll try to answer your questions in the order that we receive them at the end of the presentation. This presentation is going to run for about 15 to 20 minutes with another 10 minutes of Q & A tacked on at the end.
I would like to introduce our speaker today, Chris Cardinal. Chris is Executive Vice President of Software Engineering here at Abacus Next and he will guide us through our APX overview today, so without further ado, I'll hand it over to you, Chris.
All right, thank you very much, Andrew. Welcome everybody. Welcome to the kind of a brief overview of what APX is and why it's useful to you. All right, so we're going to go ... The agenda items for today. What is a Payment Processor? A little bit of the anatomy of what APX is. What constitutes the onboarding process and why we're different from other firms. Payments, reporting, licensing and release timelines, of course, it is now released, and I'll talk a little bit about the next set of releases for the other products.
Let's without further ado, let's jump into the payment processor. What is a payment processor? It's essentially an intermediary between a merchant in this case, in most cases, in the Abacus Law and Amicus ecosystem, a law firm, and an acquiring bank. That is to say the bank that has the credit card and also the bank that is protecting your bank account. Basically, what it does is, this payment processor, it manages authorization and settlements. It's the one moving the electronic information that represents the payments around from one bank or one credit card service to another bank. Almost all front-end processors do credit cards and E-checks or ACH for short. For reasons of security, they all need to comply to a specification called PCI, which is actually promoted ... Was created and is promoted by the credit card companies to reduce online credit card fraud and especially now in the online world. All the front-end processors especially need to adhere to these rules that make up the PCI compliance standard. These rules also apply to APX. However, they do not, this is really important, they don't apply to the merchant. They only apply to the payment processors, which APX is.
Pay processors can also do gateway functions, which is a different kettle of fish and if you are looking for more definitions you can go to that little website, which is itself a payment processor that happens to have a really handy lexicon for all of this sort of technical verbiage and what does settlement mean and what does PCI compliance mean and what's a gateway? That's a really good spot to understand what all the players are and the languages they use.
APX or Abacus Payment Exchange is a new service for payment processing. We partnered with two good companies, one of which is actually under an umbrella also owned by Abacus called Vantage and ProPay. Vantage is the underwriter, that is to say they are the ones that are determining risk and benefit presumably of a merchant as he goes though the onboarding process and Professional Pay or Protected Pay, ProPay, is a firm that is actually doing the transactional work. They are the ones accepting the payments and running them through the credit card network and getting the responses.
APX does onboarding, does credit card and E-check transactions and provides [inaudible 00:04:59] for the reporting, so that individual merchants know exactly who much their transacting through APX and how money they were able to settle and how much it cost them to do so. It is implemented as a service and that service is made available, well eventually to all Abacus Data Systems Applications including Abacus Law, Amicus Attorney, Amicus Online and all the new applications that are coming into our portfolio including results and now just recently office tools. It is available on premise. That is to say in your own servers or from your own servers as well as within the Abacus Private Cloud, which is our virtualized and completely managed environment. It is a joint development project actually with our friends Vantage and ProPay.
Why would anyone use Abacus Payment Exchange? Well, here's some really good reasons. You get immediate payments, right? Essentially within hours, so from invoicing to the payment there can be literally, well one second from the applications point of view and thereafter it's get settled normally within the day such that in your bank account that invoice is paid and is in your general account within hours, many times within that same day. No collection headaches, so you don't need to hire somebody to run after clients that aren't paying you. If you have the credit card, if it's registered with you, it can be done immediately. Obviously, lower AR, which means by definition better cash flow. We will also allow you to replenish your trust and retainers.
A key point here is that the APX fee, which we will talk about in a subsequent slide is actually an operational expense much like your courier costs or anything else that you might be using as a means ... That you might be paying as a mechanism to stay in business, right? It's the cost of doing business, which means it will reduce your taxes on income because it is indeed an operational expense. Whatever the rate is, you should look at that and say well, what is actually my taxable rate, my bracket rate and divide it by that number. It's much, much less expensive than one may think and it's extraordinarily useful for all the reasons above. It will essentially give you almost immediate payments. No more tracking down clients.
Onboarding, what we try to do here is demarcate ourselves from other vendors. Many of the payment processors in the legal market and in general in the online market tend to have complicated step wizards or complicated onboarding steps, so it's actually hard to get onto the server. We tried to do everything in our power to make this a simplified and accelerated process such that from the very onset, from step zero to the last step should be no more than 24 hours for most of our merchants. It's all wizard based. It's all based on a series of webpages that have four or five, really four different slides if you like or five different steps. Some basic information is gathered. It's synchronous in that you complete it and then for about 24 hours, at the most, the underwriter at Vantage will look at the data and make sure that everything is okay and then provide you a response, which in almost all cases okay, yes you are onboarded and the UI has a modern look and feel. It's actually really attractive, but most importantly it's really simple to go through.
When you first ... Now, to get onto APX you simply ... It'll always be from within our applications. Each of our applications has or will be modified such that from within the app, within Abacus Law, within Amicus Law you are no more than one button away from invoking this APX Onboarding page. From here, you simply press that Get Started button in the middle of the page. This is a webpage, but you'll see it'll actually be embedded inside the applications. You press Get Started and off you go. Again, key thing here no hidden fees. Stay ethically sound, that is we manage your trust accounts separately from your general accounts and in most cases you'll get paid the same day and that's the beauty of it.
Once you get started, the next page is like this. As you can see, there's about four steps in this wizard where we ask you some generic questions about your firm and about who you are and about what kind of business you are and some detailed questions. These are the kind of questions you should have on hand before jumping into the APX Onboarding Wizard. For example, your Federal Tax ID and your DBA name, so what's the actual name of the business. Very important as well that as you go through this that you not use P.O. boxes, we've had a couple of customers attempt to do that and P.O. boxes for various legal reasons don't work very well when we're doing underwriting, so risk assessment therefore, please put in your real firm address even if it's your own house if you happen to be working out of your home use that, okay.
Now, you will step into some personal info and then it will step into account details, that is to say your bank account, where the money will go. You should have that kind of information on hand. What's the transit number? What's the [inaudible 00:11:25] number? That sort of thing. You can get all that information from a blank check and just hae it on hand such that you can fill out these four steps and you'll be good. The very last step is provided to us by Vantage, the underwriter, and it will ask you a few questions. It will ask the person filling out this wizard a few questions that are kind of detailed and it's important that the person that is filling it out also be the person that answers those questions because they will tend to be the sort of things that only one, that person, could know. Like what was the date of the last lease of your car? Essentially, it's the underwriter's mechanism or it's technique to make sure that they know the customer and such can prove to the credit card companies that the person answering these questions is the person that they want to have as their underwritten merchant. It's really important that you fill out all these questions exactly properly.
Now, once you've gone through the Onboarding process and it was successful, again in most cases within 24 hours, you'll be able to start getting your customers to pay you. The first step is to capture the credit card information. In Abacus Law you can do it off the content or off the main record or off the matter record, but they will tend to be link to the contact or the name. Fun fact, because it's contacts, it's people that have credit cards, not matters. Though in Abacus Law, you might be able ... You will get to this form or to this UI from the matter it's actually being connected to the name on the file. You can capture credit card information and E-check information. You'll see at the top there, there is a little radio button that says Credit Card or E-Check and the fields will flip to the appropriate set.
We support multiple payment methods and all sorts of credit cards, so multiple payment methods meaning you could have two or three different credit cards for the same contact. And of course then, from here, you will be able to do payments, credits and voids, more specifically, not credits but refunds through the application. Once you've filled out payment information for a given contact, thereafter as you create invoices on the various products you can also create a payment and you can flag that payment as being a credit card payment, an APX payment. You'll see it will very specifically marked APX and that will enact a transaction between the application, Abacus Law for example and APX. The payment information will be sent to APX. APX will run it through and in almost call cases it will pass at which point the payment will be marked paid and that will be reconciled in the Abacus or Amicus Attorney Application, such that you will see that this payment now ... This invoice is paid. In the future, we will be adding to portals, that's ongoing development and into the mobile applications that we are creating for all the products in the Abacus Next Portfolio.
When a payment is executed, transacted, and successfully done so, the client, the contact or the name in Abacus Law will receive a receipt that will demonstrate that indeed that the payment was made. The receipt is specific to the law firm in the sense that it is branded at APX, but you can see that there is a firm name and a firm address and all sorts of information that is specific to the law firm such that the client, the contact will know where this payment occurred and why it occurred, what bill it's on. The receipts will be sent via email via our large email provider called SendGrid. The same thing for refunds and voids. These sorts of receipts and this sort of functionality is also applied for mass bill or batch billing, which means that you might be able to run a batch bill on 100 matters and a good portion of them will be all automatically paid, which is really kind of exciting. Eventually, we will be doing the same thing for mobile transactions.
A key portion of APX is it's reporting. Clearly, every firm wants to know how much money it has transacted through the service as well as how much it has paid out in service costs. We have two automatically generated or two reports that are added to the portfolio reports for each product called a Statement or Abacus, a Billing Statement. They are available in two flavors, detailed and basic. The detailed one will give you every line, every line item, every transaction and the basic one just gives you the totals. Essentially, what they allow you to do is to capture all your credit card and ACH transactions, when they occurred, what account they occurred against, where they went either the trust or to the working or general account, the amounts, the fee paid and then give you totals. It is accessible though all the applications and it will come down as a big PDF. The actual reports are being generated by APX, so we know that the data is correct and is up-to-date. In other words, it is generated on the fly. This is the one ... And this is one of the ways that you can actually recoup some of this fee cost as an operational expense. It's a very important report.
The Licensing Model and Pricing, so this is a key bit, very, very simple. A lot of our competitors in the space tend to have some [inaudible 00:18:00] pricing models where it's kind of very difficult to ... It's kind of difficult to figure out exactly what you are paying on individual transactions. You might have monthly fees. You might have a set fee. You might have a fee per transaction, a percentage per transaction. Our model has always been to simplify things for our customers and so we have no monthly fee. No transaction fee. No other fee than the 3% rate on credit card transactions and ACH is free. The only caveat is you must be a subscribed Abacus customer of whatever vintage, so you can be on Online, you can be on Results, you can be on Abacus Law or Amicus Attorney, as long you are one of our customers this model will apply to you, 3% that's it, that's all. It's very, very simple to understand, to get your mind around and really simple to predict how much this service will give you, also how much it will cost you.
If you want to see not so much a live demo, but a really, really explicit demo of how this all works within Abacus Law specifically, there will be others for the other products soon, you can click on this ... I'm assuming this presentation will be made available, to all these attendees here, but that URL captures a series of user experiences all around APX. It will give you a really good idea of what APX looks like both as a service and within Abacus Law and how to use it. I encourage you, if you are interested, to take a look at this and see for yourself how cool it is and how easy it is to use. I think, Andrew, that's the end of this very short presentation, but I'm more than happy to stick around and answer a few questions.
All right, Chris, thanks a lot for that. That was really insightful. We do have a couple of questions. First one is from Ronald, he says at this time it appears that the law firm must first acquire the payment info from the client and then enter it, correct? Client direct payment entry is only in development at this time?
Yes, that's right, that's right, so we are working in a version 1.X to allow the client directly to provide either through a portal or through some sort of, how do I say, a direct payment mechanism to pay an invoice, an outstanding invoice, directly without having to go ... Without it going through the Abacus or Amicus Applications themselves. Yeah, we are hoping to see kind of a first look or a preview of that in the next couple of months.
Great, this next one is in relation to the immediate payment terminology you used.
For immediate payment ... For payments are only for previously ... Excuse me, immediate ... Let me see this real quick. In quotes, immediate payment for payments or only for previously entered payment data?
Well, the idea here is that instant gratification sometimes isn't fast enough. The immediate payments here means within hours and it's essentially the time between transacting the payment within Abacus Law Amicus Attorney and having it sent to APX and the time in which it is funded ... Settled, then funded into the merchant's or the law firm's bank account. That should be a number of hours. No more than a number of hours. Immediate is a relative term here it's not instantaneous. There's always a certain latency in the whole network, especially on the credit card side. In our world, as soon as the application ... As soon as APX says yes, this is a charge that is accepted and that is authorized, the payment will appear to have been paid. In that sense, it is immediate. The actual settlement and the funding to the law firm's bank account might take a few hours.
All right, so who should be filling out the APX Onboarding Wizard?
Generally speaking this should be an officer or someone with signing authority for the firm. Between us chickens, you should make it somebody who has a good credit rating because without going too much into details, clearly the underwriter is interested in knowing the risk and that is in part associated to the credit rating of the person filling out the Onboarding Event ... The Onboarding Wizard.
Are there any payment limit amounts?
Yeah, there are tiers. In general ... In general, you should be fine with the default tier. If you find that you exceed our limits and our limits can go up to ... By default they can go up to $100,000 per month or $10,000 per transaction. If you find that you are exceeding that limit, we will just bump you up to another tier and we will do so in the background. Everybody is on the same tier to begin with.
Great, so right now APX is available in Abacus Law and Amicus. When will APX be available on the other Abacus products?
Okay, so to be more precise it's available in Abacus Law currently. It is in development for Amicus Attorney and Amicus Online, we hope to have a beta in the next month or so. For Results and Office Tools, that's somewhat further out, but hopefully before the end of the year.
Fantastic, so when can customers make direct payment?
That was the initial question, about three or four questions back. Again, we are working on that. We hope to be able to be in a position before the end of this quarter, so let's say September to have that kind of functionality in place such that a client would be able to pay directly from his phone from example. That would be our goal. Don't quote me on that because forecasting is difficult especially with respect to the future.
Fantastic, so this next one is from [inaudible 00:25:02], they ask the monthly review statement will only show the last four digits of the card, the amount and the charge is that correct? Will that include the client's name or the matter number?
I believe it does on the detailed, on the detailed output I believe it does and if it doesn't we can certainly look into adding it.
One last little statement and it might be a question. I've seen this question before in some of the emails, a merchant does not need to be PCI compliant or compatible, i.e., a law firm doesn't need to worry because we are providing the user interface and the storage. You don't need to be PCI compatible, we need to be. If you use our product, if you use APX and you don't store credit card information within your own applications, then you don't need to be PCI compatible, you're just a conduit.
Great, all right everyone if there are any more questions, we do have about two to three more minutes remaining. Let's see, oh, we did get one from Ted just now. Will there be an increase in price?
That is not planned at the moment and I don't see why there would be, no. Now, just ... I'm the development guy, so I know all about how this works, clearly at some point maybe, but I don't think so. We haven't discussed it. It doesn't seem to be on the horizon.
Great and finally we got one from Perry. Does this money go into trust or does it go into operating?
Oh, good point, very good question. When you go through the onboarding process you can provide one or two accounts. You can provide a general account where monies just flow in and you can provide a trust account, so depending on ... In each application, those applications I talked about, support both trust accounting and just general accounting, so depending on the kind of payments you're making it will either flow into the trust account or will flow into the general account. In fact, the fee and this is the cool part, and then the fee that you're paying for the service will actually be withdrawn from the general account. If you put money, for example, into the trust account there's a certain small percentage is being withheld by APX for its transaction fee. That same small amount will be removed or debited from the general account to pay that fee such that the entire $100 let's say of the trust payment goes into the trust account and that way you stay absolutely ethical even with this system. This is one of the few systems right now in the market that does that in a completely seamless fashion. Mainly, because we own everything. We own the applications and we own the payment service, so we can make it work exactly right.
All right, we got one minute remaining folks. If there are any more additional questions, feel free to shoot them out and if there's not, we'll just go ahead and wrap it up.
I want to thank you, Chris, for giving us an overview on APX. Everyone, you should be receiving a thank you email with a recording of this presentation as well as a transcript. We will also be giving you a link directly to APX Landing Page on our website and also some additional information that will help you with the sign-up process. I want to thank everyone for showing up on a Friday and I hope you all have a great rest of the day and a fantastic weekend.
All right, thank you everyone. Have a great day!