By Neal Anderson, VP Payments Strategy at Medius, and President/CEO of OnPay Solutions
The corporate payments space has changed dramatically over the past two years.
Businesses continue to seek ways to optimize their operations and work smarter in a tough and volatile economic climate. As a result, digital transformation has risen to the top of the agenda, with corporate payments included within a sea of ongoing disruption. We’re witnessing the emergence of a new age of digitizing corporate transactions.
This shift has unlocked many benefits, be it reduced costs, time savings, enhanced payment efficiencies and reputational improvements. Yet there are several problems that still need to be addressed.
Fraud, for example, has become a much greater risk within corporate payments.
Just as businesses have embraced digitization strategies to evolve and provide more streamlined, personalized services, cybercriminals are tapping into technologies to scale up their attack methods. As a result, the speed, volume and sophistication of financial fraud continues to grow.
Interestingly, a survey from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found that many companies had experienced an uptick trend in fraud, with 90% of participants having anticipated a further spike in the past 12 months.
With fraudsters becoming increasingly sophisticated and organized in their approach, businesses must react. On top of this, they must also be prepared to consistently review and improve their own approaches.
Simply put, the threats, risks and opportunities in corporate payments continue to evolve at an alarming speed. To mitigate them, finance departments need to shift away from rigid, repetitive practices and make flexible, entrepreneurial and bold decisions to stay ahead of the fraudsters in the corporate payments world.
Staying abreast of current trends
The corporate payments category has become a hotbed of innovation in the past couple of years.
From new market entrants and disruptor banks to ongoing innovation among payment service providers and established tech companies, various parties are all competing to win a share of the growing payments pie. The result is a highly fragmented industry, giving rise to multiple different platforms and solutions that can be difficult to keep pace with, as both a consumer and a business.
It’s become a busy, convoluted market – one that is becoming increasingly hard to monitor and navigate effectively. So, how can firms cut through the noise and adopt the right solutions that complement their corporate payments strategy?
Primarily, it’s important to gain an understanding of key trends and technologies.
Here, automation is leading the charge. Recent global events have highlighted the immense value of automation to business leadership across the board, dramatically enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of back-office operations such as accounts payable.
The adoption of automated invoice to payment solutions is critical. Not only can they help to simplify payment processes to reduce risk, but they also can be leveraged to improve supplier relationships, encourage real-time collaboration, provide measurable financial returns, and unlock a host of competitive advantages – including mitigating stress and workplace exhaustion. Over 75 percent of AP teams report processing more invoices in the most recent quarter, leading to setbacks and burnout. Automation saves valuable time as well as finances.
Beyond this, companies offering remote work opportunities using more modern or progressive technologies have been shown to attract leading talent. As remote and hybrid working have become normalized, AP professionals now expect their employers to offer flexibility and modern automation.
The extra mile
Taking the manual and old-fashioned complexities out of payment processes is a first vital step forward. But there are other ways in which payments providers can not only stay ahead of the corporate payments curve, but stay unique in and maintain the standards they need to not only survive, but thrive. Organizations will need to advance and differentiate in other ways. Here, customization is key.
By customizing the ways in which their payment data is presented and tailoring it to the specific demands of a business, organizations can turn what may have been data collected but never analyzed into meaningful insights that are relevant and add value. Further, in automating and enhancing invoice through pay, they can introduce tailored digital payments to their suppliers by stressing simplicity, efficiency and timeliness for them which in turn helps to enhance buyer-supplier relationships.
Indeed, these tailored B2B payments put cash flow visibility into the hands of management to support time-sensitive decisions, further bolstering productivity and profitability. Digitization takes the company yet one step further, boosting visibility and ensuring the company is making the best possible decisions.
Between the adoption of automated technologies and optimization strategies such as customization, organizations will be well placed to leap ahead of the corporate payments curve.