The COVID-19 pandemic is putting accounts payable (AP) department practices to the test. Businesses are doing their part by having employees work from home, but some companies are struggling to keep operations secure as opportunistic fraudsters aim to take advantage of the pandemic’s disruption.
Bad actors are increasingly trying to exploit confusions as companies transition to remote operations. They are sending emails from hacked accounts to AP personnel in which the bad actors pretend to be vendors or executives and request recipients send payments into bank accounts that are actually controlled by the criminals. Businesses must carefully monitor their payments and issue clear guidance to staff to help them avoid falling victim to tricks such as phishing attacks.
AP departments that have long clung to legacy, paper-based methods are also now struggling to rapidly update processes. Only 54 percent of surveyed U.S. companies said they could meet all their payment obligations with staff working remotely, for example. The current pandemic could encourage greater uptake of automation tools and other AP technologies.
The April Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker® examines how AP departments are responding to new challenges brought on by COVID-19, updating systems to improve practices and keeping fraudsters at bay.
Around The AP Automation World
Fraudsters are currently upping their attacks against AP departments, but these departments already were a source of concern for companies, even before the pandemic hit. A 2019 survey found 90 percent of companies reporting that their AP departments experienced more fraud than any other part of their operations. Insufficient security approaches, such as failure to sufficiently protect AP systems against unauthorized users — such as by implementing multifactor authentication — might contribute to such problems.
Healthcare companies must especially be vigilant about their AP defenses even as the pandemic puts pressure on them to act quickly. Healthcare providers need to secure protective equipment and other critical supplies but cannot let the need for speed cause them to slip on carefully vetting vendors, because fraudsters are lying in wait ready to masquerade as legitimate suppliers and then make off with payments.
Fraudsters are not the only problem — honest human errors can cause problems for AP departments as well. New data outlines the problems caused by accidental double payments or payment issuance to the wrong supplier. Automation tools and other approaches could help reduce such errors.
For more on these and the rest of the Next-Gen AP automation headlines, check out the Tracker’s News and Trends section.
The Spice House Secures Supplier Payments With Cloud-Based Payment Portals
Consumers who are under quarantine are keeping occupied by rediscovering home cooking and the power of spices to make their dishes come to life. These ingredients reach them only after traveling through complex global supply chains, and the spice purveyors that bring these products to consumers must have robust AP strategies to securely transact with what could be more than 100 different global spice vendors. In this month’s Feature Story, Charlie Mayer, CEO of The Spice House, discusses the AP automation tools that can help companies manage their numerous different payment flows while preventing any manual errors from slipping through.
Find the story in the Tracker.
Deep Dive: Automating AP To Lock Out Fraud
Companies often struggle to detect when fraud is hitting their AP departments. In unfortunate instances, dishonest employees might overcharge on supplier payments and keep the extra cash or external fraudsters may hack into systems and take control of AP employees’ accounts. This month’s Deep Dive explores how businesses can adopt AP oversight tools, automation systems and multifactor authentication to better catch and prevent fraud.
To read the Deep Dive, download the Tracker.
About The Tracker
The Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker® , a PYMNTS and Bottomline Technologies collaboration, is a monthly report that highlights the most recent accounts payable developments and automated solutions disrupting how businesses process invoices, track spending and earn rebates on transactions.