(Photo by Flickr user Simon Cunningham, used under a Creative Commons license)
While at American Express, the self-confessed “recovering banker” spearheaded a credit card acceptance deal with USPS, the first deal of its kind with a government agency. He went on to turn around divisions at First USA, Citibank (where he ran global online technology), an auto insurance marketplace startup (which he sold to AIG) and Regulatory Data Corporation.
By the time Parsells entered what was initially a part-time role as executive chairman at Global Debt Registry, the Recession set unpaid consumer debt numbers ablaze. Concurrently, and unsurprisingly, the number of complaints from consumers against debt collection agencies had also skyrocketed. As he stepped into a full-time role as CEO, Parsells saw an opportunity for GDR to assert itself as a central repository for non-mortgage consumer debt.
“It’s really true of the $3 trillion-plus of non-mortgage consumer loans, there’s really no central system that tracks the ownership of that debt,” said Parsells. “Particularly in the case when accounts are charged off and sold, or put into collections. Consumers don’t have any way to access [that record].”
In mid-2013, GDR began building out new technology enabling banks to load account information into their system and report on that registry what collection firm they’ve placed accounts with, allowing each division of a bank — auto, student loans, personal — to better track and securely store information.
That all sounds fine and dandy for banks, but what about the actual consumers? You know, the folks whose debt is being transferred from their bank to a collector?
Parsells calls it “Carfax for consumer debt.”
“If you buy a used car, it used to be 10 years ago you had to trust the used car dealer. What could go wrong there?” said Parsells. “Now, the DMV gives you the title, Carfax gives you the history and you can make an informed decision.”
Essentially, DebtLookup.com takes all that information banks store in the GDR cloud (built on the airtight Amazon Web Services’ platform) and makes it available to consumers, who can then track their debt as it’s transferred from banks to collectors. Parsells said once consumers can see that information, they’ll validate collectors and both parties will be much more likely to come to an amicable resolution.
“It’s the ultimate form of transparency for consumers,” Parsells said. “When consumers get a call from a debt collector, in a couple of years we want people to say, ‘Did you do a DebtLookup on them?'”
Parsells said Wilmington is the perfect place for a company like GDR. Actually, this is the third company and second major private equity-backed business he’s brought to Delaware. Between Wilmington’s geographically central location and plethora of financial institutions, Parsells is a staunch advocate for fintech in Wilmington.
“I’m really very bullish on Wilmington and Delaware as a place for fintech companies to locate,” he said. “I hope others follow suit.”