For a brief review of the events of the past few days with StashAway Malaysia direct debit users, they had seen several automatic transactions by the company on July 27th.
Direct Debit users are users who have set up monthly automated payments for their investments in StashAway.
These transactions were carried out in succession and continued until there was insufficient funds in the account to carry out another transaction.
For example, if someone had set their direct debit amount at RM 150, StashAway would have collected money until <RM 150 remained in the account, essentially leaving it empty.
Users have commented on this and the StashAway Malaysia team has taken quick action to understand how serious this disruption was for their users.
Here is a look at their previous initiatives to deal with the debacle: 6 Things StashAway Malaysia did right.
1. Give a quick, official first answer
Not only is it unrealistic to expect a detailed explanation of the circumstances of the situation immediately from the company, but it can lead to further problems later if the company hastily promises something to users that they cannot achieve.
For me, an official email that comes out a few hours later with enough information to calm me down is better than an instant email that is vague and rushed.
StashAway Malaysia took the time to understand what was going on, talk to the partners involved, and find ways to fix the problem before all of this information was emailed to users.
In the first email they sent on the night of July 27, the same day that the problem occurred, they had already mentioned that this would be:
- Give the affected users a voucher with which they can invest in StashAway for free for 6 months.
- Refund all users by 11:00 p.m. on July 28 (the next day),
- Send an update email once all refunds have been made.
2nd Keep the promise to users
At around 12:00 noon on July 28, StashAway Malaysia announced on Facebook that they were preparing for this afternoon's refund.
At 11:00 p.m., they were already sending update emails to inform users that the amount deducted had been refunded.
- Part 1 of the StashAway update email
- Part 2 of the StashAway update email
In the update email, StashAway Malaysia also wrote that users can access the 6-month voucher until then.
Users had certain expectations of StashAway from the very first email the team sent, and the company would have been under a lot of pressure to meet them.
Still, they could do so and keep their word.
3rd Proactivity in ensuring that direct debit errors no longer occur
In our first article about the debacle, we suggested, among other things, that other users unlink your bank account from StashAway or deactivate the direct debit function.
While some may have already done so, there would be some who have not.
To completely eliminate the risk of the error recurring while the problem was being fixed, StashAway announced in the update email that they would also temporarily deactivate the direct debits.
"You can't make direct debit transfers, and we'll let you know as soon as we resume this transfer method. In the meantime, you can instead make an Interbank GIRO or JomPay transfer to your StashAway account," the e- Mail.
4th Acknowledge that there is still much to be done to resolve the issue
Like any other company that knows how important it is to protect the interests of its customers, StashAway Malaysia does not stop at refunds and vouchers to keep users happy.
The team understands that they need to share their analysis of the situation along with their preventive measures to fully satisfy the users.
In the case of StashAway, they said that they would publish a detailed technical post-mortem analysis explaining the root cause and how they want to prevent this situation from happening again.
From now on they can only report that the error appears to be due to an anomaly that has occurred in transactions with Curlec, the direct debit service provider from StashAway Malaysia.
5. Be transparent as they can be
In addition to promising to publish the post-mortem analysis for users, they have also published an AMA (Ask Me Anything) webinar for which anyone – not just affected users – can register here.
The webinar is moderated by Michele, CEO and co-founder of StashAway, and Wai Ken, Country Manager at StashAway Malaysia. There they will clarify everything that people want to know.
It is scheduled for July 30th from 5pm to 6.30pm.
This webinar, and the fact that StashAway Malaysia has done its best to keep users informed, shows that the company actively practices transparency, as does all companies (especially those you have trusted to handle your money ) should do.
Of course, there will be information only known to StashAway and the regulators it complies with, but otherwise all of their initiatives have been transparent so far and they promise even more.
6. Take responsibility for accountability
As mentioned by the StashAway Malaysia team itself, the error appeared to be due to an anomaly that occurred in transactions with Curlec.
It wasn't something the team had direct and immediate control over, but as Country Manager Wai Ken told us, they still had to be responsible for their users' sake.
Ultimately, StashAway Malaysia explicitly chose to use Curlec as a direct debit service provider, so StashAway was responsible for any interference caused by the Curlec system.
And instead of just blaming Curlec on their own shoulders, StashAway Malaysia made sure that it was the one who actively kept users up to date on the situation and provided opportunities to correct the mistake.
– // –
StashAway Malaysia is in a vulnerable position. They are a robo-advisor wealth management platform, which means that they manage the funds of around 100,000 users (as of September 2019) in Singapore and Malaysia.
These users have their money, a sensitive asset, entrusted to the company, and misuse of the money could adversely affect the company's reputation.
I believe that given the recent issue, some users will try to switch to other platforms and they cannot be held responsible, although it is a rather premature decision, I would say.
StashAway Malaysia is aware of this risk and has shown that it truly prioritizes user trust and therefore takes active measures to restore its relationship with users.
What it has to do now is to keep the few promises that will be fulfilled tomorrow and for the next few days, while being as transparent as possible.
- More information about StashAway can be found on the website here.
- Read what happened to the StashAway Malaysia direct debit users on July 27th.
- More information about what we wrote on StashAway can be found here.
Selected image source: StashAway Malaysia