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By Drew Hofler, Sr. Director, Solutions Marketing, Ariba Network and Financial Solutions

Innovation and change are almost cliché in the world of consumer payments as new options and approaches pop up like dandelions in the spring.   B2B payments, however, seem to occupy a parallel universe where time stands still and innovation is as likely as the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series.

Drew Hofler
Drew Hofler

But the times, they are a changing. The Cubs pulled off the seemingly impossible and snagged a championship after a 108-year drought.  And innovations in the financial supply chain that seemed impossible only a few years ago are finally falling into place and they promise to change the face of B2B payments.What can you expect to see in the year ahead? Here are four predictions:

B2B payments will get faster…

The current lag between the time an electronic payment is made and settled will go the way of the paper check and money will move with the same speed as data, thanks to faster payments initiatives in the UK and Europe, the Same Day ACH that NACHA is rolling out, and Real-Time Payments schema from the clearinghouse. This will enable companies to be more responsive, better able to forecast cash flows, and increasingly nimble in their payments.

…And smarter

Business networks will deliver detailed information about payments and early visibility into when they will be made. These data-rich transactions will drive much greater transparency and enhance the entire procure-to-pay process.

Money will move like people…

Uber is among the most efficient ways of getting around. You order a ride, step out of the car at your destination and go on your way.  Behind the scenes, you have already pre-verified your payment type and a trusted provider moves the money. No muss, no fuss.

B2B payments will soon move in the same effortless way through ecosystems created within business networks.Payments will be embedded in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process to the point that just like Uber, you don’t even think about them. When pre-set conditions are met, payments are simply executed with all the rich, detailed information behind them and shared with both buyer and suppliers to make settlement and reconciliation a snap.

...And Blockchain will create a new mode of transportation

Earlier this year, ATB Financial completed one of the first international payment transactions utilizing Blockchain technology.   The payment, which normally would have taken between two to six business days to process, was done in about 20 seconds.

This is amazing, not only because of the sheer speed with which the payment was processed, but because it has essentially created a new model for managing B2B payments going forward. With each party that touches a B2B payment at each border crossing or currency exchange,more hands reach into the pot and more cost is added to the transaction.  Blockchain eliminates these inefficiencies, intermediaries and costs, making B2B payments faster, more secure and less expensive.

We’ve entered a new era where thanks to technology, anything not only seems possible, but is possible. Organizations that embrace the innovations swirling around them can not only change the game, but play it well and win.

Drew Hofler is Sr. Director, Solutions Marketing, Ariba Network and Financial Solutions. In this role, he is responsible for Ariba’s Network and Financial suite of solutions including AribaPay, the groundbreaking new B2B Payment solution from SAP and Ariba. Drew brings almost 20 years of financial services, operations and software industry experience to SAP. Prior to joining the company, he served as Vice President, Treasury Product Management for PNC Bank and Director, Payment Systems at Tier Technologies. Drew began his career at Thrivent Financial.  He has been interviewed and quoted widely in finance and supply chain industry publications around the topics of eInvoicing, Shared Services, dynamic discounting, working capital management, payment and the Networked Economy, and has published a number of articles on these subjects.