B2B Payments

How DocuSign Turns Contracts Into Commerce

Everyone knows the convenience of reviewing and signing a document anywhere at any time online, even on mobile devices.

But for payments that might accompany those contracts — such as security deposits or escrow payments — documents remain separate and therefore a separate transaction.

It was a friction that Woody Levin, DocuSign vice president of Growth/Consumer, decided to investigate. When they did, what they found even surprised them, Levin said: 40 percent of those agreements had a payment component associated with it.

To put that into perspective, there were approximately 170 million unique documents signed using DocuSign last year, with nearly 1,350,000 unique signers using the platform each and every day.

That means that 68 million agreements had a financial component associated with it in 2016.

“That’s where this lightbulb went off for us,” Levin said, and not because of the business opportunity that it represented for DocuSign — but for the big friction point associated with the delay between signing a contract and getting paid.

“We think it’s really going to change the payments landscape and just make it super efficient for people to come to an agreement and collect payment all in one instance,” Levin explained.

For that innovation, DocuSign Payments, which collects signatures and payments in one step, DocuSign walked away with the Gold 2017 PYMNTS Innovation Award for the Best Newcomer. Levin said the company was psyched to claim the top prize but that it is equally excited to see how embedded payments will continue to transform its relationship with commerce.

Putting Customer Feedback to Work

The development and implementation of DocuSign Payments was actually a little bit of a paradigm shift for DocuSign, Levin explained.

Previously, the company would take on the development of a new feature or offering and then gauge how well its customers liked it — an inside-out approach. But this time around, DocuSign went straight to the source — their customers — in order to solve a problem that was truly impacting its customer base.

“[DocuSign Payments] was truly built at our customers’ request, and their input was taken into account along the way. We built a product that served their needs,” Levin said.

Payments are actually part of many of the agreements where digital signatures are being used, such as signing a lease, putting down a security deposit at a venue, a lawyer/accountant getting a retainer or for any type of sales agreement or invoice.

Levin said that not only were DocuSign customers facing the problem of not getting paid faster, but many times they were not getting payment at all, or were receiving the wrong amount.

“If we can make sure that the customer gets paid right when the contract is signed, then they can spend less time focusing on collection and more time focusing on what they do best,” he explained.

With over 50 percent of all signatures made via DocuSign happening on a mobile device, Levin said embedding payments also enables customers to use Apple Pay and/or Android Pay to enable payment.

The Payment Tag is directly integrated into the document itself, enabling the sender to request a specific dollar amount, which pops up when the receiver signs electronically.

What’s Next for DocuSign Payments?

Levin said the company hopes to eventually enable two-way payments within documents.

Let’s say, for example, a person gets into a car accident: their insurer would be able to send an agreement stating how much money they might receive to fix their car. Within that document would be a request for the receiver to enter their bank information, and then a push payment would be sent to the individual’s account.

Though DocuSign isn’t there yet, Levin said that’s definitely where it’s going. He confirmed that a recurring payments feature is expected to launch within the next six months.

“We have the ability to add ACH payments, which will be rolling out in our next release. That’s super important when you’re buying a house and you want to put down earnest money. It’s very rare that someone is going to do that on their credit card,” Levin explained.

“It’s so efficient — it’s almost like one of those ‘Oh my gosh, how did we not do this earlier?’ moments,” he added.

While DocuSign offers the embedded payments functionality for free to its customers, it’s still a win-win situation for all.

DocuSign customers get to experience a streamlined process where digital signatures and digital payments a brought into a single system, while the company itself is able to generate more stickiness and engagement with its customer base.

“We really look at this as a way to differentiate ourselves in the market from any of our would-be competitors and a way to really just give our customers what they want,” Levin said.

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