Entrepreneur claims to have settled the UK’s oldest known invoice – in 45 minutes!

A British entrepreneur who recently launched an automated digital platform to collect business debts believes he has settled the country’s oldest invoice – and in less than an hour!

Gary Brown, founder of Debt Register, used his system to successfully collect a £2,502 debt that was more than four years (1499 days) overdue – and it did it within 45 minutes of the new software-as-a-service platform going live and the debt being uploaded.

Gary invented the system having spent his life working in credit management and becoming fed up with customers who sat on their invoices without paying them: “It’s an industry-wide problem and I was determined to do something about it,” he explains.

“There are hundreds of businesses out there who generate large volumes of often low value debt, where their only solution to late payment is to write it off or go through the courts. But with the court system having all-but ground to a halt, and with no guarantee of success anyway, I felt there just had to be a better way. And so Debt Register was born.”

Gary says the system is also effective at collecting larger debts, and from overseas: the largest debt collected to date was $1,119,412.80 from a debtor based in France.

In simple terms, Debt Register is a software platform that automatically identifies and verifies email contacts within a customer who is responsible for paying the bills. (Incorrect emails are still the biggest cause of requests for collections going unanswered.) It asks for that bill to be settled, with the consequence that failing to do so will result in the company being reported to the leading credit reference agencies (CRAs). This damages their credit score, as well as their reputation, in an age when payment performance has to be reported to shareholders.

“Debt Register delivers a tangible and direct consequence for those companies should they continue not to pay an undisputed, overdue invoice,” he adds, “and it is this ‘consequence’ that seems to concentrate the mind!”

The technology has recently been shortlisted in the Innovation and Technology category of the UK’s leading awards programmes for the credit industry.