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Three ways the pandemic is changing business payments

Taira Hall | SVP, Head of Business Payments, FIS

November 08, 2021

Changes were already underway in business payments, but the events of the last 18 months greatly accelerated these payment trends. Here are three noticeable shifts:

INCREASED NUMBER OF REMOTE EMPLOYEES

Gartner estimates that 41% of companies plan to permanently shift at least some of their employees to work remotely. As many corporates’ employees, suppliers, partners, and vendors have changed how and where they work, reducing dependencies on non-digital payments and processes has become critical to cost reduction and operational efficiency.

Virtual cards and electronic payments are filling a critical need, particularly among smaller businesses, for a simple but compelling reason. Unlike traditional payment methods, they don’t require that a payer report into a physical office to issue payments. Further, electronic payments can be tokenized and help reduce risk and protect remote environments.

Additionally, suppliers are able to efficiently execute collection processes and post incoming payments without having to go to a physical location.

INCREASED IMPORTANCE OF WORKING CAPITAL

An increasing number of payers are using creative strategies that maximize working capital and extend payment terms, without negatively impacting their supplier relationships. This flexibility increases payer cashflows and can expand purchasing power helping both the payer and their suppliers.

With virtual cards, payers can leverage their statement grace period and improve days payable outstanding (DPO). At the same time, suppliers receive payment as soon as the invoice is approved for payment, without the time delays that come with mail delivery. More virtual card payments are also being delivered using straight-through processing. This automates the supplier card process and reconciliation, while supporting the company’s working capital goals.

Suppliers are also enabling financing options including lines of credit and are extending DPO even further and helping preserve cashflows. This flexibility enables low-cost short-term financing with and more dynamic cashflow strategies for purchasing teams.

Many companies are also incentivizing vendors by decreasing payment terms when accepting the company’s preferred card and electronic payment methods. Suppliers are able to greatly improve working capital by leveraging artificial intelligence to assess credit and collection risk which automatically prioritizes accounts for optimal cash flow. The improved visibility and more accurate cash flow forecasting allows them to make informed, strategic decisions quickly.

INCREASING FRAUD RISK

According to the 2021 AFP Fraud Survey, departments most vulnerable to compromise by email are accounts payable (61%) and treasury (13%). It also revealed that 70% of companies are implementing policies regarding vendor information changes. As more companies move away from checks and to electronic payments, such policies increase workload. Not only must the vendor validate that their information is correct, but it can also invite more fraud concerns because of an increase in the sharing of sensitive bank and account information.

Companies can reduce risk exposure with a solution like FIS Integrated Payables to securely execute payments. Leveraging secure technology to provide a multifactor risk assessment that validates name, address, phone, email, IP address, and verifies bank account ownership. In addition, FIS Integrated Receivables / GETPAID helps automate and optimize receivables by leveraging internal payment experiences along with external credit bureau data to automatically build a risk profile for each customer that increases revenue opportunities while mitigating potential bad-debt and write-offs.

How can FIS help?

FIS Business Payments support what’s now and next in business payments with leading AP/AR services and an expanding ecosystem and connected network of modular solutions synchronized with ERP/Accounting and Banking Systems. Enabling more dynamic communication, controls, and flexibility over the treasury ecosystem – this secure and efficient platform improves working capital, reduces operational expenses, mitigates risk and has the ability to convert outgoing payments from paper to electronic while automatically posting incoming payments against open invoices. This technology allows corporate digitalization efforts to be fully supported.

FIS Integrated Payables supports international payments, AP payments to individuals, and any remaining paper-based-payments while providing robust, secure, real-time reporting for companies and their suppliers. With supplier onboarding, verification and maintenance, conversion efforts can occur quickly, while risk is mitigated. And with full credit-to-cash functionality driven by artificial intelligence and automation, FIS Integrated Receivables / GETPAID helps AR departments work any time and from anywhere, while knowing they are contributing optimal cash flow to their company. Corporations can automate payables and receivables, realizing working capital improvements on both sides of their cash flow ecosystem.