Bridgestone India Unlocks 7 Mn Euros In 9 Mths Helped By Digital Payment Platform Freepay

Pune-based tyre maker Bridgestone India has unlocked around 7 million euros in cash flows in nine months with the shifting of its payment collection process on a digital platform, a senior company executive has said.

As many as 80 per cent of Bridgestone India’s around 7,000 dealers have already migrated to the digital payment platform since its introduction last year, said Jyotsna Sharma, Chief Financial Officer.

Bridgestone India is the domestic arm of Japan’s Bridgestone Corporation.

The application Freepay, an electronic invoice presentation and processing and reconciliation solution from JP-Morgan-backed fintech, Global PayEx Freepay solution, allows Bridgestone dealers to make payments directly through the self-service, using their smartphones or desktops.

It adds incentives of cash discounts and credit notes against outstanding invoices besides offering other facilities such as automated cheque facility among others.

In January-February last year, prior to the pandemic, there was already fear in the market due to the slowdown. The payment collection process also had slowed down and the company saw a lot of money accumulating in the market, Sharma said in an interaction with PTI.

As the government had been emphasising on extending the credit term to dealers and small vendors, the company took it in the right stride, she said.

‘We supported our own dealers by giving them extended credit, like extending the 30 days payment period to 60 days without any additional or penal charges on payment,’ she said.

However, at the same time, the company got its dealers to understand the importance of getting ahead on digitisation, removing their certain fears and anxieties about digital payments, and using that opportunity, launched the digital payment platform much more effectively, Sharma said.

‘So roughly in around 8-10 months time, we have unlocked around 7 million euros from May 2020 to January this year,’ she said.

The company raises bills for around 5,000-6,000 dealers of the 7,000-dealer network every month, she said.

The company had its digitisation roadmap was in place even before the pandemic with the company wanting to use it across its ecosystem, including sales, procurement, finance, manufacturing, she said.

It involves at least six stakeholders in the end-to-end collection process in industry like tyre manufacturing, Sharma said, adding if the process gets digital, it not only saves man-hour but also brings efficiency in the process, said Sharma.

‘Looking at the transaction, earlier the entire chain would take 2-3 days from the time of writing a cheque to coming to the counter. Now with the digital payment system, it has come down to just four hours,’ she said.

‘So we managed to convince our dealers about the benefits they will get through the digital payment process. Today 80 per cent of our channel partners are on the digital platform,’ Sharma said.