Direct debit users are users who had set up monthly automated payments for their investments on StashAway.
These affected users would’ve experienced around 26-27 deductions per direct debit collection request on that day.
For example, if someone had set up a single direct debit collect request to RM150, 26-27 deductions of RM150 would’ve been made, unless the user didn’t have enough funds left in the account, at which point it would’ve stopped.
Editor’s Note: Information in the above paragraphs has been edited to reflect greater accuracy of the situation.
Users spoke out on it, and StashAway Malaysia’s team was quick to take action as they understood how serious of a disruption this error was for their users.
Taking a look at their initiatives in handling the debacle thus far, here are 6 things that StashAway Malaysia did right.
1. Making A Swift, Official First Response
Expecting a detailed explanation of the situation’s circumstances immediately from the company is not only unrealistic, but could lead to more trouble later on if the company ends up hastily promising users something they cannot achieve.
To me, an official email that comes out several hours later with enough information to reassure me is better than an immediate email that’s vague and rushed.
StashAway Malaysia took the time to understand what was going on, speak to their partners involved, and come up with ways to address the issue before putting in all this information into an email for users.
In the first email they sent on the night of July 27, the same day the issue occurred, they had already mentioned that they would be:
- Giving affected users a voucher entitling them to 6 months of free investing on StashAway,
- Refunding all users by 11PM on July 28 (the next day),
- Sending an update email once all the refunds have been carried out.
2. Keeping Their Promise To Users
At around 12PM on July 28, StashAway Malaysia posted on Facebook that they were preparing to make the refunds that afternoon.
By 11PM, they were already sending out update emails to inform users that they had been refunded the amount deducted.
In the update email, StashAway Malaysia also wrote that users would’ve been able to access the 6-month voucher by then.
Users already had certain expectations for StashAway with the first email the team sent out, and the company would’ve been under lots of pressure to meet them.
Nonetheless, they were able to do so, thus keeping their word.
3. Proactivity In Ensuring No More Direct Debit Errors Happen
In our first article about the debacle, some suggestions that we shared from other users included unlinking your bank account from StashAway or disabling the direct debit function.
While some may have already done that, there would be some who didn’t.
Wanting to completely eliminate the risk of the error happening again while they were I the midst of fixing the issue, StashAway announced in the update email that they were also temporarily disabling direct debits for now.
“You’ll not be able to make direct debit transfers and we’ll let you know once we resume this transfer method. In the meantime, you can do an Interbank-GIRO or a JomPay transfer to your StashAway account instead,” the email read.
4. Acknowledging That There Is Still Work To Do In Addressing The Issue
Like any other company who understands the importance of protecting their customers’ best interests, StashAway Malaysia is not stopping at refunds and vouchers to keep users happy.
The team understands that they will need share their analysis of the situation along with their preventative measures in order to fully satisfy users.
In StashAway’s case, they said that they would be publishing a detailed tech post-mortem analysis where they’ll explain the root cause and how they intend to prevent this situation from repeating.
Editor’s Note (updated 31/07/20 at 7:37PM): StashAway Malaysia released a detailed post-mortem analysis of the situation on July 30, 2020 at around 4PM. You can read it here.
As of now, the most they can share is that the error appeared to be the result of an anomaly that appeared while transacting with Curlec, StashAway Malaysia’s direct debit service provider.
5. Being Transparent As They Can Be
Aside from the promise to publish the post-mortem analysis for users, they’ve also published an Ask Me Anything (AMA) webinar that anyone—not just affected users—can sign up for here.
The webinar will be hosted by Michele, StashAway’s CEO and co-founder as well as Wai Ken, StashAway Malaysia’s Country Manager, where they will be clarifying anything that people want to know.
It’s scheduled to take place on July 30 at 5PM to 6.30PM.
This webinar and the fact that StashAway Malaysia has been actively doing its best to keep users up to date show that the company actively practices transparency, as all companies (but especially those that you’ve trusted to handle your money) should.
Of course, there will be information that only StashAway and the regulatory bodies it complies with will be privy to, but other than that, all of their initiatives thus far have been transparent, and they’re even promising more.
6. Taking Charge In Terms Of Accountability
As mentioned by the StashAway Malaysia team itself, the error seemed to be a result of an anomaly that appeared while transacting with Curlec.
It wasn’t something that the team had direct and immediate control over, but as Country Manager Wai Ken told us, they still had to be accountable for it, for the sake of their users.
At the end of the day, StashAway Malaysia had specifically chosen to use Curlec as its direct debit service provider, and thus any disruptions that Curlec’s system caused fell under StashAway’s responsibility too.
And rather than simply pushing the blame off their own shoulders and onto Curlec, StashAway Malaysia ensured that it was the one actively updating users on the situation and providing ways to make up for the error.
StashAway Malaysia is in a vulnerable position. They’re a robo-advisor wealth management platform, which means they’re handling the funds of about 100,000 users (as of September 2019) across Singapore and Malaysia.
These users have entrusted their money, a sensitive asset, to the company, and any mishandling of the funds could be detrimental to the company’s reputation.
I believe that some users will be looking to move onto other platforms in light of the recent issue, and they can’t be blamed for doing so albeit it being quite a hasty decision, I’d say.
StashAway Malaysia is aware of this risk and has shown that it really is prioritising users’ trust and confidence, and is thus actively taking actions to rebuild its relationship with users.
What it needs to do now is deliver on the few promises that will be carried out tomorrow and for the next few days, and be as transparent as possible while doing so.
- You can find out more about StashAway on their website here.
- You can read about what happened to StashAway Malaysia’s direct debit users on July 27 here.
- You can read more about what we’ve written on StashAway here.
Featured Image Credit: StashAway Malaysia