How Method Financial focuses on innovation, instead of billing, using Orb

“At Method, our success is driven by usage—it’s how we know our products are making an impact for our customers and users,” says Jose Bethancourt, the Co-Founder and CEO of Method Financial (Method). Method is a B2B payments platform and developer-first API that works with over 10,000 financial institutions to enable payments to any type of consumer debt and bills by making it easy for developers to connect and pay a user's debt with just their phone number. Method also provides a data product for its customers, enabling them to retrieve users’ debt data from the majority of lenders in the U.S..

Method relies on a sophisticated usage-based pricing strategy to support its growth and varied customer base. But executing on this strategy with a scalable billing process is no small feat. Method deals with real-world payments which can take several days to settle or be reversed, making it challenging to track usage accurately. With a large volume of events and lots of nuance to each billing dimension, their systems have a lot of moving pieces.

A need for precision, down to the penny

Cailey Ryckman, Method’s finance consultant, was brought on to manage billing and accounting for the company—and to help streamline its complex billing process so customers always receive accurate invoices. But when she first joined, things weren’t that simple: “Getting accurate usage data into a format I can understand, and ultimately invoice our customers for, used to be a struggle,” she remembers. 

In Cailey’s former experience, she always had to rely on developers to pull reports for her, which she would then manually enter into Quickbooks. Not only was her reliance on engineers to pull such data inefficient, but manually inputting data into Quickbooks was also quite painful, since there’s no native support for importing data or connecting to a SQL server. The entire process often took her hours to complete.

The way Cailey sees things is that teams have two options: (1) Build a solution in-house, which can take a team of developers weeks, if not months, or (2) Have their accountant or controller manually type in data, which can take hours—she estimates up to 6 hours per billing cycle at a scaled company. And with such manual data entry come several risks: wasting time, fat fingering something, and triple-checking to make sure the total on an invoice equals the total anticipated. “My definition of success in my role is precision and quality data—I want our books to be correct down to the penny—that level of detail is critical, and leaves no room for mistakes,” she says.

Method’s decision to buy vs. build

When Jose and the team were scaling quickly, they considered building a solution in-house, but decided against it due to the required complexity. “When we built Method, we weren’t thinking about it from a billing perspective—we were focused on our users, not the back-office,” he says. “Adding billing would mean an immense amount of recoding. We wanted something that functioned as an event-based system without having to build or maintain it.”

That’s why Jose was so thrilled when he heard about Orb: “It was what I knew we needed and decided against building ourselves,” he says. 

Orb answered Method’s need for an event-based billing architecture, which made the implementation really easy. The team ended up connecting Orb to the core processing logic in Method's backend. For every payment processed, a webhook notification would be triggered, which would then send a billable event into Orb. “All in all, it took a couple of hours to start sending events,” recalls Jose.

"We didn't want billing to be closely tied to our application logic given the sensitive nature of the data we deal with—we needed something that was more flexible and de-coupled, and Orb was that platform,” says Jose. 

Saving time and ensuring flexibility for growth

Method Financial now sends all of their usage data into Orb—some events are billable immediately, and some will be billable in the future. By sending all events into Orb, they have the flexibility to continue evolving their pricing without needing to write code or re-integrate. With all events in Orb, Method then invoices their customers via Quickbooks with minimal work, since Orb syncs invoices generated into Quickbooks for Cailey to review and send to customers. 

Since implementing Orb, billing has become a set-it-and-forget-it solution for Jose and the team at Method. Some of the benefits they’ve reaped with Orb include: 

  • Accuracy that handles the full billing lifecycle: If a payment bounces, the Method team can rely on Orb's audit-safe usage amendment capabilities to safely mark the event as non-billable, automating some of the more nuanced billing workflows without leaving any room for error.
  • Engineering resources saved: “We haven’t touched the Orb code since getting it up and running, so billing doesn’t require any engineering time on our end,” explains Jose.
  • Precision without worry: Because of the unique nature of their business model, Method can sometimes process an event twice, but with the guarantees of Orb’s API, they know that a customer will never be double-charged. “We don’t have to worry about updates or changes on our banking provider’s side—Orb handles repeat events and bills correctly every time,” says Cailey.
  • Focus on innovation, not billing: With Orb, developers can launch new features and make changes to Method’s products without having to worry about the impact on billing. “If a change affects our customers, it’s mirrored in Orb automatically, so we don’t have to worry about anything after we implement new features or updates,” says Jose. 
  • Time saved, risks reduced: Cailey no longer has to manually input data or calculate usage quantities based on a table and input line item amounts. “I don’t have to chase engineering to get the data I need to generate invoices—the data is there, it’s synced, and I don’t have to do any data entry,” she says. 
  • Flexibility for customers: “Orb allows us to deliver pricing flexibility to our customers with all of the usage and predictability levers we need,” Jose says. For example, if Method changes to a different payments rail or swaps banking partners, such internal changes can happen without impacting billing—customers keep getting Method’s superior services (and getting billed for them), uninterrupted. “With Orb, we get precise billing no matter what’s happening internally. It helps us ensure we can move fast without having to think about what’s happening to billing,” explains Jose.

Expanding and evolving—both its billing and as a company

The team at Method is constantly innovating, which includes how they charge their customers. “It’s great to grow and build with Orb by our side,” says Cailey. “It’s a first-level piece of Method’s ecosystem that allows us to constantly expand and evolve our billing structure.” Ultimately, this means that Method can build and launch products faster for their customers. 

“Orb frees up bandwidth on so many fronts, from engineering to finance, helping us focus on what matters most: our customers and the products we build for them,” says Jose.

Curious about how Orb can free up your engineering team from having to build billing infrastructure? Schedule a demo today

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