EtonHouse - Streamlining payment processes
DBS helps EtonHouse optimise cashflow by digitising collections and reconciliation process
"Working together with DBS has been a joy. DBS’ digital platform and services have helped make our finance department more efficient and lowered our administrative costs. In addition, we appreciate how DBS' SME practice consistently goes the extra mile to provide fast and friendly responses to us. DBS truly combines digital speed with a human smile!"
Ng Yi-Xian, Executive Director, EtonHouse International Education Group
About EtonHouse International Education Group
The EtonHouse Group is a global education provider headquartered in Singapore with 120 schools across 12 markets in Asia and the Middle East and over 15,000 students in its fold. It has remained at the forefront of international education by offering innovative preschool and K-12 education, enrichment programmes as well as affordable schools in the early years and the K-12 space. With 10 International Baccalaureate World Schools, the Group adheres to international best practice and has built its reputation and trust with families for the past 25 years.
Paper Payments and Myriad Accounts
In Singapore, most parents pay their childrens’ school fees via cheque or in cash, even though they typically have the option to use electronic bank transfers for payment. At EtonHouse, managing physical payments for its students required substantial time and effort for collection and reconciliation, as well as reporting from each school to headquarters.
The time-consuming collection tasks were compounded by insufficient detail captured along with the physical payments. In more complex scenarios, some payments were combined to cover the school fees for more than one child, making reconciliation even more challenging.
Once funds are collected, each school brand or entity had its own profit & loss (P&L) statement and maintained multiple bank accounts in its market. Information for these myriad accounts then rolled up to the headquarters level, which led to an extremely challenging reconciliation process for each school. At the same time, the dispersed nature of the accounts meant that balances in EtonHouse’s foreign currency accounts might run low, even though the Group had an overall surplus due to higher balances in its local currency account.
Digitisation and Pooling Resolved the Challenges
Using DBS RAPID (Real-time APIs with DBS), DBS helped EtonHouse set up the Credit Confirmation API (CCA), a service that assigns a dynamic QR code to every invoice. Parents can then easily make payments for the school fees by scanning the QR code. DBS also uses a notification API to inform EtonHouse once a payment is received in the Group’s account with the bank. Since every QR code contains details of the payer, EtonHouse receives full reference information on each payment. As part of its digitisation expansion, EtonHouse plans to integrate the dynamic QR code into its mobile app as well.
To improve liquidity, DBS created a Multi-Currency Notional Pool (MCNP) structure for EtonHouse. This enables EtonHouse's foreign currency payments to be honoured in each market, even if an account in that market is in deficit, because there is sufficient funding in the Group’s notional pool.
Increased Efficiency and Optimised Working Capital
The usage of QR code payments that are assigned to the invoice by using the CCA has resulted in faster and more efficient reconciliation, as well as shorter accounts receivables durations. Moreover, the daily reports and data generated by the MCNP structure have enabled the finance team and the CFO to manage reconciliation and other finance processes far more effectively. The team has gained back most of the hours they used to spend counting cash or cheques and reconciling accounts, so they can use their time for higher value-add efforts such as finance support for regional expansion and acquisitions.
EtonHouse now has better liquidity as the MCNP structure minimises overdraft charges with the sufficient pool balance covering all accounts in the markets.