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Is Your Business Paying from the Cloud or the Checkbook?

Nearly everyone uses the cloud in their personal lives, from storing photos and accessing financial accounts to sharing documents and watching movies. But when it comes to the business world, the transition to cloud-based systems has been a slower migration, especially when it comes to B2B payments.

While check usage has decreased dramatically during the past decade, more than 40% of businesses still made payments by check last year, according to the 2019 Association of Financial Professionals Electronic Payments Survey. There is no doubt that paying by check is a comfortable method that many professionals have become accustomed to, but it is quickly becoming an outdated practice that costs more time and money than necessary in today’s digital age.

Luckily, there are solutions available for businesses looking to transition to electronic payments quickly and cost-effectively. These secure, cloud-based payment networks help businesses reduce cost, earn rebates, boost efficiency and enhance security. Here are the three questions you should consider when searching for the right payment solution for your business.

Is it Seamless?

Any integrated payment system you consider should work seamlessly with your current accounting system in a single, simplified process across all technology platforms, bank accounts and payment types. This includes a support team that will work with your IT department to make sure everything runs smoothly before your first payment. The solution should also work with all major databases, such as Oracle, JDE, Lawson, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and others.

In addition, it’s important to know how many vendors are already accepting electronic payments through the provider’s network. The more advanced networks will accept payments from more than 400,000 businesses who are already established in their system. An integrated payment network should ultimately improve your vendor relationships with a positive payables experience, optimize your team’s productivity by reducing manual tasks and simplify processing with a single payment file.

Is it Secure?

The 2019 AFP survey also found that 70% of organizations experienced check fraud in 2018. A secure electronic payment system will help reduce this risk dramatically. When you’re searching for the right solution, verify that the company authenticates all of your vendor’s information, including back account verification and electronic remittance delivery. This will help you significantly reduce the risk of payment fraud that results from account takeover, intercepted payments, business email compromise and other fraudulent schemes.

The electronic payment network you select should also require your vendors to provide their own corporate data that they in turn validate, verify and maintain. This ensures there is no need for your company to maintain or update sensitive vendor bank data.

Is it Efficient?

A good integrated payments solution should free up your accounts payable team to be more productive and focus on value-added tasks by handling all the maintenance and verification of vendor bank details. It should streamline payment automation, cash-back payments and early payment discounts, which will also give more time back to your accounts payable team to focus on more strategic priorities. The solution should also improve control over payment timing to help your business manage your cash float each month and increase efficiency with single payment files and electronic processing.

Regardless of which integrated payables solution your business selects, it should ultimately reduce cost, streamline payments and drive revenue for your company. As you search for the right solution and network, know that the right payments strategy can help you optimize revenue and maximize output.

Uma Wilson, executive vice president, directory of treasury management, card and bank product at UMB Bank, is an industry leader in the payments solution space with more than 20 years of financial industry experience. Her use of creativity and technology has resulted in the development of innovative and game-changing products for the financial services industry. She can be reached at uma.wilson@umb.com

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