When it comes to spending, the corporate events space is not like traditional procurement, says Talia Mashiach, CEO, Founder and Product Architect for event commerce firm Eved. As a company that facilitates invoice management, trade and spend visibility for the corporate events world, Eved sees firsthand the friction businesses face when buying and paying for what they need when they put on an event.
So what did Eved do to solve that friction? Create its own payments network, of course. The new solution, called EvedPAY, is a “game changer” for corporate event planners, Mashiach told PYMNTS in a recent interview. As she detailed the inner workings of the tool, it became clearer that while this tool is designed to streamline B2B payments in the corporate events space, many of its characteristics were developed around pain points experienced across all B2B payments segments.
PYMNTS: You’re not a stranger to payments. Eved offers AP, payment and invoice solutions, so what exactly is EvedPAY and how does it fit into your suite of existing services?
TM: We do have a category-specific procurement solution for the meeting and events space. This is a really difficult one for corporations that traditional solutions like Ariba and SAP don’t work well for. We’ve provided solutions specifically for this category, and EvedPAY is part of that overall process. But we are also focused on the invoice reconciliation aspect of it, which is the largest pain point for a company in terms of their meeting and events spend, and that’s what EvedPAY tackles.
Can you go into detail about the underlying technology of EvedPAY?
TM: We actually have our own payment network. Suppliers on our marketplace platform get their purchase orders and invoices, and their payments. There is really no one else out there leveraging this, especially for events, to leverage payments between large corporations and their suppliers.
Because this was designed specifically for corporate events, can you talk a bit about the unique challenges regarding payments in this arena?
TM: This is a $770 billion spending category, globally. For many companies it’s their top spend category, and it’s generally been managed with Excel and patched-together services. Those tools really work well for things like ordering office supplies, whereas in the meeting and events category, it’s really an evolution – and evolution of what you’re going to need for an event. Things change, your suppliers are much more collaborative, and it’s not really catalogue-spend. Corporate systems are really built for catalogue-type items. So event planners begin to avoid their systems at all costs, and a lot of them move to credit card products. But the challenge with that is they lose their compliance and spend visibility.
Before launching EvedPAY, how were your corporate clients paying for the goods and services they bought over the Eved eCommerce platform?
TM: They were using a card, whether it’s a meeting card or a commercial card, or they were writing checks out of their PO system, which is a very difficult process, regardless of category. The biggest challenge is that companies don’t have visibility in this spend category, and therefore they can’t manage it. That’s the biggest pain point. Payment people need data, and by putting the invoices that get generated in the same system that the payments get paid on, you’ve got all the visibility of the invoice line item and the granularity of that data. You’ve traded all of these inefficiencies and in place, you get compliance.
The business analytics and reporting part of our business is a critical piece. We took a really robust data solution and wrapped payments around it. And that’s what’s really new and different about it. It’s the combination of payments and data that makes it such a powerful, innovative solution.
Players in the corporate events space are often working on-location and traveling. How does EvedPAY account for this?
TM: A lot of our customers in the field will use iPads or other tablets, so we bring all of their info to them so they can quickly approve invoices or change orders, or approve payments right in the field. That makes it so much easier than the gritty purchase order process.
We also deal in multiple currencies. Some of the challenges that existing card products face is that they don’t work in certain currencies in some countries. We deal globally and in all multinational currencies. Even in our reporting, we tap exchange rates at the time of payment. If I’m running a report six months later and I need to consolidate multiple invoices to find out what my spend is, we pull that data from the time of the payment six months ago. Others just do the currency conversion that day. That’s a significant opportunity from a global standpoint. Paying in other countries is often even harder than it is in the U.S., so we’ve addressed a lot of payment challenges for our global corporations.
What’s your business model? How do you make money?
TM: We’re very similar to a credit card model, where the suppliers have a transaction rate on our platform. The more value they do, the better their rate is. And when suppliers are paid through EvedPAY, they have a transaction fee. It’s competitive. We modeled off of what people are used to.
What’s been the reaction so far from your corporate clients that are using EvedPAY?
TM: Oh, it’s game-changing for them. For one of our customers, in the first 60 days they cut 70 percent of their invoice reconciliation and payment processing. They were faxing credit cards to their suppliers to pay them. We cut out all of these steps for them. They get spend visibility now, no one has to enter any information manually, and the granularity and analytics of the spend data are at a whole new level. They’re able to make much better, strategic decisions about this particular category.