Looking back at 2022: New beginnings for business payments, the networks they run on and the technology that secures them
We’re going to wax poetic as the year draws to a close. “To make an end,” T. S. Eliot wrote, “is to make a beginning.” Here, here! Come the beginning of 2023 you will see our take on the new year in a series of LinkedIn posts and blog entries from our Bottomline team of subject matter experts. Until such time it’s a big thank you to our readers and our many contributors this year. As we take stock of 2022, we present the top of the pops. It’s a mix of content that all adds up to one conclusion: the business of business payments is becoming more urgent and complex every day. Our proof? Here are the ten most popular posts of 2022. We hope you enjoy reading them (or sharing them) again as much as we enjoyed creating them.
Our top post came from product and growth leader Gunita Bindra. It centered around our B2B Payments Survey, completed with our colleagues at Strategic Treasurer, which showed a jump in AP automation from enterprise level companies. The report showed that corporations that have over a billion dollars in annual revenue are now making more than half of their payments electronically. The detail shows that 70% of the large businesses are making more than 50% of their payments electronically. For businesses with less than $1B revenue, only 49% make more than half of their payments electronically. “This year’s report catches finance leaders at a crossroads,” Bindra wrote. “The pain points, some of which are detailed here, are significant. In fact, I urge you to read the section on cash flow. It is at the heart of many of these key findings and the report contains some workable solutions for getting paid on time, or at least on a predictable schedule.”
It’s all about the customer. Without customers, your business is a hobby. This post from APAC account management head Ed Singleton reported on a digital transformation summit in Singapore that doubled down on customer centricity in the context of competition. “Inevitably, many new players in the market claim they understand the challenges you face and can take away the pain – the harsh reality is that this is not always true,” Singleton wrote. “Robustness and efficiency, disaster recovery and high availability are mandatory first factors in choosing a partner, including sufficiently robust service level agreements. But more than just the technical knowledge and the promise to meet expectations, you need a partner who truly knows and understands your business, has a proven track record in delivering successful projects and has solid relationships with regulators and auditors. In other words, the expertise to transcend beyond a mere supplier to a valued and trusted partner in your day-to-day operations.”
This Q&A with Bottomline’s Paul McMeekin explored the urgency surrounding AP automation and specifically its ability to drive better cash flow forecasting. When we asked him how he would counsel businesses struggling with forecasting McMeekin said: “Actually, I have two parts to my answer here. The first one is the importance of the transition to digital payments. Specifically, the ability of AP/AR automation to time a payment when the cash is available to us is critical. Especially now with the increasing cost of capital, using paper checks has huge disadvantages. Consider that if a check takes 10 days from send to clear, then it may take a while to apply that to my bank account. And every time the Fed increases the interest rates, the cost of capital goes up. So, receiving checks isn't just labor intensive. It costs money as it takes longer to receive and apply that cash. And even now, if I have to get short-term working capital to help me with the times I don't have the cash, it will be much more expensive than it was in the past. So that time intensity is more crucial in this environment.”
One of the biggest stories to come out of Bottomline this year was our acquisition of real estate payments automation company Nexus. This post, which tapped into an August 2022 survey of Nexus AP automation and payments software users - along with more qualitative comments – showed that technology affects the following three critical workforce factors: 1) job satisfaction; 2) enablement of remote work; and, 3) recruiting efforts. “Fueling this increase in job satisfaction is the elimination of time spent processing invoices and payments by hand,” wrote Nexus chief customer officer Jenn Taylor. “We’ve has found that multifamily, mixed-use, retail, and commercial customers have at least one full-time employee to pay their 100s or 1,000s of vendors each month. When performed manually, these check runs can take a day or more to complete.”
Cheers to Zanders’ senior manager Mark Sutton. At the global treasury consultancy he has seen senior finance functions undergo intense change, most of it driven by digital transformation and advances in data analytics. Key quote from our Q&A with Sutton: “People have been talking about data as the new black gold for many years. But it's not only data. It’s structured data. I think people sometimes lose sight of that. I can do much more with structured data than just unstructured data, which I have to interpret to use effectively. With structured data, the data points allow me to create a much better picture of my cash position. One of the sources for structured data comes from accounts payable. Smart companies will automate AP and AR, and they're starting to look at how they can integrate that data into prescriptive, predictive analytics to allow more informed decisions to be made.”
Bottomline Technologies helps make complex business payments simple, smart, and secure. Corporations and banks rely on Bottomline for domestic and international payments, efficient cash management, automated workflows for payment processing and bill review, and state of the art fraud detection, behavioral analytics and regulatory compliance solutions.