The search is on for banks and companies seeking to automate B2B payment processes and provide alternatives to paper-based, person-to-person business payments transactions.  

Automation isn’t a new concept for B2B payments. It’s been slowly gaining a foothold for years. But over the last 12 months, it’s picked up steam and the forward momentum seems unstoppable. It’s just no longer feasible for manual, check-based payments processes to control the flow of payments in an even temporarily socially distanced world.

As the growing shift to electronic payments and digital processes spreads, it’s clear that the advantages – streamlined processes, savings on supplies, and enhanced security – go beyond the initial necessary convenience. Automation is here to stay.  

If you’re just beginning the transformation journey, it can be difficult to sort out the many automation options and technologies available. So, how do you determine the best way forward for your organization?

7 considerations when selecting the right payments provider for your organization

Know the payment types – with checks finally taking a backseat to electronic payments, it’s important to find options and technologies that cover you across a range of payment types. Your payments provider should offer:

• A wide range of electronic payment options such as Virtual Card, ACH – Premium & Basic, Wire, B2C payment options
• Clear understanding of the associated fees and discounts by payment type
• Payment reconciliation functionality, including integration with existing AP/ERP/accounting systems
• Security across the entire invoice-to-pay process

Supplier onboarding and enablement – remember, if you make changes to the way that you pay and get paid, your suppliers will be affected as well. To protect these valued relationships, the payments provider you choose should demonstrate a proven path to supplier onboarding that includes the following:

• Supplier recruitment and enablement services
• Controls to ensure the validity of the supplier
• Flexibility to offer the payment type your supplier prefers
• Reports to track the status of onboarded suppliers

Solution deployment and support – it’s more important than ever to find a provider that can help you go from zero to 60 in as short a time as possible. Providers that implement their solutions quickly and securely demonstrate established tactics and have support and training processes in place. Consider asking:

• What is the average deployment time?
• What is your targeted percent of onboarded suppliers at 6 months? At a year?
• What types and levels of training do you provide?
• Do you provide support (24/7)?
• What are the contingencies for a remote workforce?

Global capabilities – chances are your supply chain has a global component to it. The expansion of supply chains can provide a competitive advantage, but your company needs to be able to pay them easily across borders while staying compliant. It’s important to consider:

• Countries where payments are supported
• Specific payment types that are supported
• Ease of access to information on country-specific payment requirements

Integration options – more than likely you’re using an accounting system or ERP for your accounting needs. If you are a supplier, you are using a receivables solution. The right payments provider offers the ability to integrate in some manner with those systems and provide options such as:

• Connectivity with your ERP
• Secure file-based connectivity
• Payments and reconciliation APIs

Governance, risk and compliance (GRC) – knowing all of the rules and regulations associated with B2B payments can overwhelm even the most vigilant of companies. The right payments provider will help you with expertise and solutions that reduce risk exposure and maintain compliance including:

• Controls to protect user access, payment data and banking information
• Prevention measures to reduce fraud or stop it before it happens
• Reviewable audit trails across approval and payment activity

Reporting and analytics – Cash flow is king. More than ever, it’s important to know where your money is, where it’s going and when it’s coming in. Rich payment data helps manage and optimize cash flow. Your payments provider can help by:

• Including reporting, dashboards and payment metrics
• Providing permission customization capabilities by user, role, department, etc.
• Tracking and analysis by payment type

For many most businesses, the move to payments and AP automation is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. Let these 7 areas of consideration guide you as you evaluate payment providers to help on your transformation journey.

Make sure the payment providers you consider can address each of these areas to your satisfaction. That’s a solid first step to help your business gain the benefits that secure, automated B2B payments can offer.

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Posted by Gunita Bindra

Product & Growth leader for global companies with 10+ years experience in developing and executing strategic products and partnerships for evolving business needs. Expertise in evaluating market trends and transforming them into high-performing business strategies and creative solutions for the customer. Wide sphere of B2B experience across Product, Sales/Business Development, and Technology functions.