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Five tips to evolve business payment systems

Efficient payment systems are critical to the success of a business’ operation and these systems are ever-evolving. In the changing payment landscape, make sure your business is maximizing newly available options and taking advantage of solutions to decrease payment effort while increasing productivity. Below are five ways to push forward the evolution of business payment systems.

1. Launch a commercial card program

There are more components to commercial card programs now than ever before, and corporate cards need to provide more benefits for their users than simply being a payment method. While managing a card program may sound like a daunting task, the right blend of technology and platform support can help alleviate unwanted administrative headaches and set your company up for better future financial success. Three essential card functions can increase efficiency, eliminate risk and usher in a thriving commercial card program.

  • Simplify expense tracking with digital receipt tracking
  • Enhance program administrator to increase credit limits with faster approval processes
  • Provide easy and straightforward troubleshooting solutions to resolve commercial card issues quickly and effectively

2. Consider cloud-based payment networks

As check usage decreases dramatically, the rising digital age is offering a more reliable payment system in cloud-based payment networks that help businesses reduce cost, earn rebates, boost efficiency and enhance security. Regardless of which integrated payables solution a business selects, it should ultimately reduce cost, streamline payments and drive revenue for your company. While searching for the right solution and network, remember that the correct payments strategy can help optimize revenue and maximize output.

3. Use automation for increased AP efficiency

Many accounts payable (AP) departments experienced changes due to the pandemic; while working from home, they processed payments in new, unexpected ways. Very few organizations factored payment security processes into their continuity plans. Paying vendors is a business-critical function that relies on AP departments to keep business moving forward. AP automation can seem like a nice-to-have when all is going smoothly, but we now realize how operating without it impacts business continuity.

Payables automation provides a solution for businesses to work smarter by maximizing efficiencies and visibility. It also streamlines and accelerates all paper types and leverages a single solution that integrates with enterprise resource planning. The result? Ease of payment, cost savings due to eliminating paper checks, rebates and the ability to push payables to cards.

4. Leave the check payments behind

In the business-to-business world, checks have long been the preferred payment method, but the rise of electronic options is changing the payables landscape. While checks still account for a percentage of business to business payments, check usage continues to fall. Given the ever-increasing pace of business operations, faster payments are becoming progressively more important to a company’s bottom line. If you’re still using checks, there are several reasons to consider a shift to electronic payment methods such as automated clearing houses or commercial cards, which can meet various business spending needs.

  • Cards help create better cash flow – the most direct cash flow benefit of paying by card stems from the extended float period built into the payment structure.
  • Cards are cheaper, safer and faster – the median cost of processing a paper check is $3, double the cost of a purchasing card transaction.
  • Card programs streamline the payment process – from advanced payments to customized authorization and control parameters for each cardholder, card programs can improve both the supplier and the employee experience.

5. Embrace the digital first transformation and stay ahead of the curve

Education and continued technology advancements focused on speed and efficiency will be the ultimate drivers of a “digital-first” payment transformation.

Emerging technologies are advancing integrated payables solutions, which allow companies to streamline their payment processes by consolidating all expenditures into a single file. Integrated payables typically accommodate payments via check, ACH, wire transfer and virtual card without requiring changes to existing accounts payables processes. By utilizing this payment automation, companies can reduce fraud and overhead, take advantage of incentives such as rebate programs and discounted vendor pricing and receive detailed reporting on payment and remittance details.

Virtual accounts are another innovation in the industry. Managed just like their traditional counterparts, these cards tend to have more significant credit limits thanks to reduced risk of fraud due to the absence of a physical card. Virtual accounts are an efficient way to handle recurring payments or one-time vendor payments.

While business payments offer their fair share of challenges, the exciting news is that banks and payment networks are partnering to bring new solutions and innovations to life to deliver streamlined processes and ultimately, financial benefits for companies of all sizes.

Stay informed on industry trends and noteworthy company news by visiting our Industry News section on umb.com. Follow UMB on LinkedIn, Facebook‡ and Twitter‡ to see regular updates about our company, people and timely financial perspectives.


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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s Web site and go to Web sites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other Web sites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.
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