ADP Published Garnishment Rates Among US Workers

Today ADP came out with a report showing, for the first time, how many US workers are impacted by wage garnishment.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/adp-research-institute-study-offers-first-in-depth-look-at-garnishment-rates-among-us-workers-2014-09-15

This is nothing new to Ganart. For this growing situation and multiple others, we created Money Earned.

Bob

About four years ago, we had one customer (we’ll call him Bob) who worked in the manufacturing sector. He told us that the ONLY way he could make it week to week was with Money Earned. He knew how little his net pay was. We did also. His ability to get to what he had earned, just so he could make it through his days, weeks and months while paying his garnishments down, was all the difference in the world to him. To do so, without another loan or debt, meant that Bob was truly able to manage his world with what he actually had coming to him, not taking on more debt.

Bob and his employers confirmed that prior to their Workplace Solution being installed, his productivity and morale was on a steep decline. After installation, Bob was able to “manage” his world, day to day. Morale went back up.

Hot Dogs and Ramen

Bob no longer wondered how he’d get gas to make it back and forth to work. He didn’t have to survive on Ramen and hot dogs for the six days prior to his next paycheck (Bob is paid every other week). Having any one of the dozen life events that come up i.e. flat tire, needing medicine, child school activities were less of a worry. Money Earned allowed Bob to focus more on his job while at work.

Help-Now

With ADP’s report today, it’s more apparent than ever, that a large percentage of US workers need help…now. The extended opportunity is U.S. employers would benefit from SOMEONE helping their employees to improve productivity, quality and overall morale.

That is what Ganart is, and has been doing with the Workplace Solution and Money Earned. If you are an employer and would like to know how you can bring this solution to your company at zero cost, please contact us today.

A prawn is not a lobster, and Money Earned is not a Loan!

By Wayne McHugh

Alleppey India Kerala boat sunset

Serene river vista in Alleppey, Kerala India. The temperature was in the low 80’s.

I just recently had the opportunity, while traveling in India on business, to carve away 48 hours and experience the natural wonder of the famous backwaters on a kettuvallam (Kerala houseboat) in Alleppey, referred to as the “Venice of the East”. It has a large network of canals that meander in and around India’s longest lake, Vembanad. For those not in the know, this is in the in the southern state of Kerala and is referred to as God’s Own Country. Accompanying me on this adventure was my friend and co-worker who also happens to be Ganart’s CTO, Safir Salihu, who grew up in Kerala and provided information, history and a seamless channel to ask our crew any question I had.

Venice of the East

The physical beauty an lushness of this tropical area was equally matched by the diversity of the wildlife all around us. Woven into this pristine setting were entire communities and commerce. Mile after mile, on either side of us were riverbanks.

Safir and I have taken control!

Safir and I have taken control!

Barely 10-20‘ wide in most sections, they held small homes on one side and small businesses on the other including eco cottages for tourists, small supply stores and even an ice cream bar! It was amazing seeing small children, dressed in school uniforms, marching in procession along the banks to one of several water taxi stops which ran with extreme efficiency. Their commute was a lengthy one, but all were excited (so it seemed) to be heading to school. Beyond the houses, on the other side of the banks were paddy fields as far as the eye could see. Along another canal, we saw the remnants of 2,000 acres of over-farmed coconut and cinnamon tress. It looked like something out of a Stephen King novel with equally haunting stories.

Ice Cream and Red Bull

While cruising in the afternoon heat, a small skiff motored up to us with an industrious young man pitching goods for sale. Opportunity commerce at its finest! Believe it or not I picked up some mango ice cream (my favorite) and had to buy a Red Bull….yes, Red Bull on the backwater which almost seemed like a contradiction. But then again, how many people are you going to meet that can say they bought and drank a Red Bull on the backwaters of Kerala?

Lobster?

As evening approached, we decided to buy rather than catch our dinner. We stopped at an area with several small storefronts which were grouped together and went shopping. We decided on prawns and redfish to be the main course.

Freshwater prawn from the backwaters of Alleppey India. I had two.

Freshwater prawn from the backwaters of Alleppey India. I had two.

Choosing menu items by size

Choosing menu items by size

The size of the prawns were amazing. Coming from New England, at very first glance, they looked liked a very small chicken lobsters. After picking up our main course and some soft-drinks, we found our docking space which also happened to be the home of the houseboat owner. Later, we sat down for our feast, cooked at the spice level locally consumed, after much convincing from Safir that I actually welcomed the spiciest they could bring. Red fish in curry sauce, spicy fried shrimp, local vegetables, fried plantains and naan. Spicy, delicious and very filling.

Money Earned

While sitting back after dinner and looking at the photos we took, including those of the prawns, we drew a comparison of the prawn being mistaken for a lobster. The comparison involved our Money Earned product (as it usually does). Often mistaken as loan or an advance, we have used other comparisons while educating businesses, such as if a loan is a duck, we are more akin to a swan and so on. While this trip was an amazing little adventure half way around the world, it’s funny that no matter where and what you experience, it is all relatable no matter where you live or what you do.

So, the four things I took back or rediscovered:

  • The backwaters of Kerala are amazing and bucket-list worthy for a visit.
  • Red Bull is everywhere
  • A prawn is not a lobster, no matter how big
  • Money Earned…is still not a loan.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

Customer self service security using palm scanning for transaction speed and security

In our world of customer self service, security and the ease of use, without compromising  compliance requirements, has been going through a build-test-build cycle.

It resulted in a high level of customer adoption of Ganart’s self-service technology.

Since our recent software upgrades and technology enhancements to our TaaS platform, we’re now able to steadily upgrade our customer security, in turn, enriching our KYC (know your customer) database to better service our customers.

It’s a given – technology enrichment is extremely valuable for better customer service.

If we only have to prompt the customer to give information based on the transaction service requirement need, the customer just has to recall only the necessary information once, to fulfill the service they are consuming.  We take that info and build a secure KYC file on them for future transactions, cutting down on their transaction input repetitiveness. The result is a fast transaction and a happy customer that comes back to the me machine.

Customer self service security. Yes, it works.

One such feature that we have as part of our patent pending self service enrollment is an optional advanced palm scan technology to enhance security of a customer account. With this feature a workplace customer will now be able to super secure his account using palm scan if he opts in.

Self service security upgrade enrollment
customer self service security

We spoke to our customers and we found that this is a welcomed upgrade as they no longer need to remember their security code.  We found too that prompting the customer to upgrade their security at the end of a transaction is better received than to have them go through a forceful or interruptive upgrade before they make their transaction. Once they scan in, they are in.

This is a WIN-WIN for both our customers and our service providers. It also helps customer support, which has now lowered the number of customer calls because a customer forgot his security code and now the identity of the customer needs to be established – an arduous compliance process that’s not speedy. Well, it’s all now resolved by using customer self service security using palm scan technology.

We’re currently in the process of applying numerous as-you-need features to our TaaS platform to increase customer adoption. In doing so it provides a means for faster and more compliant transactions to our service providers.

 

Advanced Terminal Remote Management

While we’ve been scaling up the TaaS platforms deployment, our team has been working in parallel on several remote service features.

At Ganart, we believe in standardizing repeatable processes and develop frameworks to support the automation of them. It has enabled us:

  • To focus on new initiatives and keep support calls down to the minimum.
  • Automation processes also have become very handy for our technicians.
  • A great timesaver to control and assist kiosks out in the field while techs are on call.

One such automated framework developed as part of our Terminal Management Network (TMN) is called MeCocoon. It lets us monitor, manage, control, and remotely configure endpoints as well as support escalation. We recently beta tested the framework on some of the Ganart kiosk endpoints. The results met our expectations.

MeCocoon is now being actively being used by Ganart’s customer support and production support. Some of the features include, maintain network heartbeats, get remote diagnostic information about the kiosk and the ability to remotely recycle the kiosk. With a RESTful architecture, many more features are being designed and some are in implementation phase to the TMN.

The main design parameters for MeCocoon were to maintain a simple client interface (easy adoption), highly asynchronous mode of functionality and great security. The features are assignable, subject to personnel job description, or client’s needs. The MeCocoon services work on mobile platforms too. We actively use MeCocoon this way on Android and iPhone.

Are Corporations People Too?

Thank you Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people too”. I was elated when I read those words from Mitt Romney’s speech in Iowa on August 11, 2012. Here’s why:

I have had several conversation with various industry executives over the past two years, from CEO’s to CFO’s to COO’s and just about every other TLA (three letter acronym) there is in business.

The topic has been around the American hourly or direct worker and the issues they go through financially, day to day, week to week, month to month.

The overwhelming majority of those who I have talked with feel that their workers really do not have those kind of issues.

Fact of the matter is, their workers do have these issues and as corporate leaders, ought to care about these issues as it affects their corporations.

Furthermore, they should try and help their people with this growing situation or continue to suffer the mutual ill effects it causes on their bottom line.

Most of this group are blind to why their people need financial help whether once a month or once a week. Believe me, I have heard it all:

“We pay them a good wage, it’s not our responsibility if they can’t make ends meet.”

“They should manage their money better.”

“If they stayed within their means, they would not be having these issues.”

Corporations are people too.

When Mitt Romney spoke those words, it hit me like a brick. Yes, Mr. Romney, corporations ARE people too!

In most corporations, like all people, they have to eat (Sales) they have to pay bills (obvious) and they even need to make sure they always have gas to keep going (workforce). The comparisons go on and on.

Here’s another similarity. Like people, corporate payments do not line up with cash flow.

So what’s a poor corporation to do?

If they are rich, they have the money. No problems. However if they are like most corporations, that works hard every day, services their customers and does all the things a corporation can do, they get a line of credit.

It’s magical gap financing that helps them get through their lean days, weeks or months.

Corporations don’t have to go to the equivalent of a payday lender, so why do the people who work for these corporations have to face sky high interest and in a lot of cases, debt traps.

I offered my comparison to a CEO recently by his observation that his employees did not need this help, was the same thing as say Apple telling it’s suppliers that they do not need a line of credit because:

We pay them a fair price, they should be able to make ends meet”

“They should manage their money better”

“If they stayed within their budgets, they would not be having issues”

You see, IF corporations were like people, then you have Apple (corporate executives) telling the struggling suppliers (direct workforce) they really do not need a line of credit (help with week to week financial issues).

I went on to explain that it seemed somewhat hypocritical that a CEO, CFO or COO would take the position that their employees did not require help when they themselves, rely heavily on the same kind of help, in the form of a line of credit.

He thought about for a minute (which seemed like an hour) and said: “I agree, now I would like to know more about this Workplace Solution”. LINK

What would you say? Comments welcome.

Do you know Ms. M and Mr. C?

What do you envision when you read the following?

Financial Education
Financial Responsibility
Financial Planning

Like so many other phrases, they mean different things to different types of people. For the sake of this story, consider “Mr. C” and “Ms. M”: a couple of “30-somethings” making “20 something” a year and working on the American Dream. Now, I could have chosen different people, however they represent tens of millions of people living and working in the US today. So Mr. C and Ms. M it shall be.

For a large swath of the population under say 40, their financial education begins right around the time they are introduced to that glorious electronic babysitter we call the T.V. They are bombarded with what they should have or could have or can’t live without. Their education advances throughout high school, college and into the working world via PC’s, laptops, tablets, and smart phones, so they can rest assured they are plugged in 24X7 for any “emergency requirements”. Oh wait, they may have been lectured by their parents at some point that you work hard for what you want and don’t ever get overextended using credit. Almost forgot about that one.

Being in their 30’s they may be or may have been married. They may be out on their own or in the process of moving out of, or back into their parents home. In any event, they have bills, which calls for financial responsibility – which in their world also calls into play financial planning. For far too many, financial planning for retirement begins far too late. Responsibility and planning for this extremely large group is measured in weeks. Paycheck to paycheck, and all too often, day to day.

Financial reaction, the current financial planning.

Ms. M is a single mom and has all the usual bills a single mom has…too many for her income. She does (or is supposed to) get a monthly child support payment from her ex-husband which almost closes the gap, but ultimately something always needs to slip or she will go without this or that to make it through her month and her world. She finds herself in a bad month, the storms of last week meant she was out of work for two days watching her kids with no pay. She has to make her rent and car payment AND find enough gas money to make it to work. She calls her ex to ensure not only this month’s check comes in, but he will need to catch up some on past months or she will need to call her lawyer (more cost and pressure) as she needs to take care of her bills. She is assured that a check is coming in at the end of the week, but only for what he can swing. She will be $80 short. What can she do? She, like so many others today, goes to a payday lender. She knows it is not what she wants to do, but she has little choice and is hopeful her ex will make good on his promise to catch up.

Under the Roof

Mr. C’s version of responsibility and planning marches to a different tune. Living at home (still) he has no rent or utilities. His clothes are done for him as well as his meals. However, he has “dug himself a pretty good hole” between his new car and his maxed out credit cards. Although he has a job which should allow him to save and save well, he has chosen instant gratification over Financial Responsibility and Planning. However, when the collection calls start coming in and his parents get the calls, he’s told he must straighten out or get out. It’s a true reality check. Like Ms. M, Mr. C decides to go to a payday lender. It’s only $800 and with the bonus everyone at work is talking about coming in soon, he figures he can get things in order and back on track in no time at all.

Both Ms. M and Mr. C took action based on what they thought was going to happen. In the end the child support check did not come in time for Ms. M, and that bonus never materialized for Mr. C. So begins the debt spiral.

These “stories” actually happen every single day. It’s the reason that payday lenders are the fastest growing financial sector. There are more payday lender storefronts in the U.S. than Starbucks and McDonald’s….combined!

The fact is that bills do not line up with paycheck dates. Neither does life’s little gotchas, like needing $40 for gas three days before payday. So what options are out there for the Ms. M’s and Mr. C’s of the world?

What if there were different way for Mr. C and Ms. M to pay their bills when due (before payday)?

What about having access to funds for critical need, like gasoline to get to work, without ever having to go to a payday lender or find themselves trapped in a debt spiral?

At Ganart, we’ve invented a way to help the tens of millions Mr. C’s and Ms. M’s.

Bringing financial options to the direct workforce.

WPSMEHZ

We call it the Workplace Solution. It is a self-service multifunction financial and value transaction center called Money Everywhere.

The Workplace Solution can also be tailored with the right services that matter to the workforce. None of the Ganart services are set up to ever entrap or exploit.

Money Earned Button

When a Mr. C or Ms. M get in a cash crisis, they can touch the Money Earned button on the me and get access to the money they have already earned. Since they’ve earned it, they’re good for it.

What they take out is automatically deducted from their next paycheck. A convenience fee is all that’s charged. No borrowing, contracts or paperwork. No interest either and they can take out as little as $20.

An average Money Earned transaction takes less than a 30 seconds and the me machine remembers this and all other transactions that a Mr. C or Ms. M make regularly.

At the same time, the Workplace Solution helps the workforce keep attention on profitable tasks instead of worrying about financial matters that take time and mind away from work. A minute during a break and a financial worry can be solved.

Financial Planning and Rewards

Not only does the me Workplace Solution effectively modify users personal financial responsibility by giving them much more convenient and cost-effective access to their money, but it rewards them for continued financial responsibility.

We now offer Money Earned as a payment source. So when a bill is due on Wednesday and payday is not until Friday, our clients can opt to pay that bill with with funds that are coming, keeping the lights on or the phone connected without the onslaught of late payment fees, reconnection expense and all of the stress associated with it.

cash and me

We are creating a reward program for clients who choose to pay their bills via the Workplace Solution. In addition to the 100’s of thousands of dollars we have already saved our clients vs. traditional payday loans, we will be launching a direct rewards program that will provide additional savings and monetary rewards.

A company sponsored benefit without the price tag

The Workplace Solution brings several benefits never before offered to direct employees within their workplace. It is delivered, deployed and managed at zero cost to the employer by Ganart. Knowing that there is no such thing as a free lunch, it will require an organization to work with Ganart to provide some initial information and to auto-send an “hours worked” file daily (just raw info, no need to refine) and the ability to take and process a deductions file. A company can manage the on-boarding of new hires or the removal of employees no longer there via a web based portal, OR it can be completely handled by customer service folks at Ganart.

If you you would like to help your Ms. M’s and Mr. C’s, contact Ganart Technologies and see how you can help your direct workforce become more focused and more financially responsible. www.workplaceme.com www.ganart.com

Wayne McHugh
Managing Director – Sales
Ganart Technologies Inc.
wmchugh@ganart.com

Facets

We’ve been working for more than four years to bring our vision to fruition. Our goal is to create a transaction platform that satisfies exploding demands for affordable transaction services—for everyone involved. With the TaaS platform, providers can get expanded distribution for their services, financial institutions can bring on more services to drive new revenue and new initiatives, and the end customer gets all of the services he wants in one system, affordably.

Best though, the TaaS system knows the customer and does things to make it easy for him to make transactions. It eradicates the complex, tricky and hidden things that all customers hate.

Sometimes, when we talk to people who aren’t familiar with us, they want to pigeon-hole us into a kiosk provider, or a switch network, or some other facet of what we do. They just see the facets and not the whole diamond.

We politely smile.

Depending on what piece of the platform they focus on we’re going to look differently to them than we do to someone else. That goes with the territory. We’re glad that different parts interest them.

It’s pretty cool to find an article from a while back that slipped our notice from someone who clearly saw the diamond.

We’re thankful that Stuart Lauchlan presented this diamond about us, a flawless, clear, mega carat of explanation.

With appreciation…Cloud banking from Ganart

Over 30,000 transactions in one calendar year – the story of one unbanked self-service me machine’s success.

Verified through me heartbeat data, over 30,000 transactions with an average of $300.00 a transaction, equated to approximately $9,000,000 of cash flowing through one of Ganart’s money everywhere machines for 2011.

This was achieved through only three services: money transfer to 29 countries, domestic bill pay and bill pay to Mexico.

It’s a happy new year for our client, Ganart and most importantly the unbanked customers served with high quality, accurate and fairly priced services.

Happy 2012.

Banks Getting Into the Payday Lending Game

Here’s a link to a good article that explains new opportunities that banks may take to keep profits up, as well as what some banked consumers are migrating to– credit unions.

http://www.nashvilleledger.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=55901

We researched parity bank payday loan products against MSB products and found that they had similar qualities but because of the checking account almost always required, the loan is paid off in the next pay period, off the top. Careful budgeting is required by the person getting the loan to avoid cascading charges of NSFs on checking activity. They were marketed as a last-resort emergency type loan.

Now seeing the article stating that Regions Banks is offering this type of loaning too, we suspect that more will follow.

What is it?

One of the common questions we face in explaining what we build is, well, “What exactly is it?”  Some people only see the kiosk.  Some people think of it as a traditional financial system.  What people don’t see is the Platform, and it is built to not be seen.

When we started this, I considered building our system on a traditional platform: J2EE.  Having worked with it before, I knew that it would provide a lot of the basic needs our systems required such as threading, lifecycle management, request dispatching, etc.  I even built an initial rudimentary server using JBoss… but was soon struggling with the vastness of the APIs and the overhead of the application server itself.  What I needed was a platform tailored for fast transactionality, easy scalability, very high availability, and a simple API.  So we created one.

Now, almost 4 years later, we have a mature base upon which we build and deliver our services and product offerings.  Our platform is tailored for processing financial transactions in a secure environment and designed for massive scale.  In addition, we are constantly improving the architecture – thinning the transactional layer for lower latency, decoupling systems for better reliability and more flexibility, simplifying and partitioning the database for easier management and improved usage… and more!

Platform and product – they go hand in hand.

Of course, the platform – cool as it is – is really just the foundation of our products.  We also have developed a set of services which can manage millions of individual users in a multi-tenant environment accessing a plethora of product services.  Users can identify themselves to the system using a variety of identification and authorization methods, including biometrics, and securely access their personal information and perform secure financial transactions.  Furthermore, the system manages a network of end terminals which access these services, and is able to deliver, add, and remove new services to the terminals “over the air”.

To this end, we’ve created terminal client software which runs on a self-service financial transaction machine (a kiosk) which interacts with the user via an intuitive touch screen-based GUI and various devices such as card readers and cash dispensers.  The terminal software is extremely flexible and can take delivery of new product services (screens, logic, and data) on-the-fly without on-site interaction.  In addition, the terminal software is designed to be “hardware agnostic” – i.e. the core is not tied to any particular hardware or operating system or device.

The Importance of the Platform

Recently, a Google engineer, Steve Yegge, posted a rant about platforms, comparing the technology stacks of Google to his previous employer, Amazon.  In that comparison, he believes that Google outshines Amazon in all but a few ways, and the most glaring way that Amazon beats Google is in the platform.  Amazon has one; Google doesn’t.  A company which focuses on the platform as a core strategy will deliver more quality products faster that the one that doesn’t.  As Yegge says:

“A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product.”

Yegge also says that Facebook understands the importance of the platform.  What started out as a basic social networking site for college kids keep track of each other has turned into one of the world’s largest application platforms.  Recently, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder) said:

“I think the story that we look back will be the apps and things that are built on top of Facebook. The past five years have been about being connecting people and the next five to ten years are about what are all the things that can be built now that these connections are in place.”

Also take a look at Yegge’s comparison of Accessibility, which he calls “The. Most. Important. Thing.” with Security.  In the financial transaction world, security is a paramount concern.  We have standards such as TR-39, PCI-DSS, and SAS-70.  These standards are there to protect people’s money, and protection almost always means to make it harder to access.

We at Ganart get it.  We are building that very kind of thing; not a social networking website, but a financial transaction network which connects everyone, banked and un-banked, with their money in a very accssible and secure way.  And, much like Facebook does on a social level, we are all about the things that can be built now that those connections are in place.