AP departments cite managing and updating vendor bank account details as the top challenge when paying vendors. Couple that with a growing majority of payments being made electronically - and faster – and there’s not much room for error. Incorrect or incomplete vendor details cause misdirected payments which lead to late payments and missed early-pay discounts. It all adds up to a bigger, and costlier, problem than it may seem on the surface.
AR departments also grapple with payment detail challenges that make it difficult to match payments with invoices and POs, potentially delaying cash application and disrupting cash flow. This is further complicated by the number of formats in which remittance details can be delivered – from PDF or Excel attachments to emails with embedded links and passwords that don’t work.
It’s a complex equation and one that’s simplified by automation. These are just some of the key findings from our latest Strategic Treasurer B2B Payments survey report. Conducted annually and surveying financial professionals from banks and companies around the globe, the report provides insights into the current state of B2B payments, including the latest challenges faced by AP/AR departments and how fraud factors into future planning.
These findings align with what I’ve been hearing lately from our customers, who turn to us for help automating their payments processes. Automation can alleviate both the account management and remittance detail headaches. The accompanying increased adoption of faster payment methods also allows them to take greater advantage of early payment discounts.
Lately, in these same discussions, I’ve started seeing a trend towards new priorities:
- End-to-end integration across all internal systems and with banks
- Risk mitigation and payment security
- Buyers focusing on providing vendors a positive experience
Customers expect modern payment solutions to utilize the latest technologies, including cutting edge APIs, which allow the seamless connection of systems within the entire infrastructure (AP, AR, and treasury). Think of it as an integrated payments and lifecycle management approach. This also includes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which can customize and personalize companies' demands from payment partners. In fact, the survey found that 72% of all organizations (companies and banks combined) ranked APIs as having the top impact on B2B payments in the near future, with AI and ML coming in a close second.
Of course, AI and ML are also major weapons in the ever-present war on fraud and financial crime. This is becoming increasingly difficult to combat without advanced technology to travel with faster moving payments. According to the report, 49% of companies experienced serious fraud attacks or suffered losses due to attacks in the past year, with business email compromise (impersonation of either a vendor or executive) being the preferred attack method of the bad guys.
The Bottomline: Response to these trends is leading to closer partnerships and collaboration between and among fintechs. Their individual strengths, leveraged together, provide the best possible solutions for companies to make it easy for them to pay suppliers and receive payments efficiently and securely, in the format that works best for them: ‘coopertition’ – cooperative competition.
Watch this on-demand webinar to hear Craig Jeffery, Strategic Treasurer, and I discuss the full 5th annual B2B Payments survey report findings.
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