Businesses must continually keep an eye on costs and the cash cycle, no matter their size or industry. And in an environment of tight credit, which will, of course, get tighter as rates hike in the near future in the United States, one way to ensure liquidity and the ability to manage cash flow strategically comes from the prudent management of the accounts payable function.
To that end, Bottomline Technologies, which provides cloud-based payment and invoice solutions, has entered into a strategic alliance with payments giant Visa through which Visa’s commercial card solution, Visa Payables, and the Bottomline Paymode-X payments network are jointly offering the other service.
PYMNTS spoke with Jessica Moran, general manager of cloud payment solutions for Bottomline Technologies, to discuss the trends driving the partnership and the advantages it provides to companies seeking to automate and improve their payments functions.
Initially to be available across the United States and Canada beginning next year, the strategic partnership targets corporations that “have an AP spend of $50 million and up” by payer, noted Moran, a sizable market when considering the fact that as much as 60 percent of transactions that are done across this space are still done by paper checks.
And due to that time-consuming process of getting payments out the door, continued the executive, “there really is a need for a simple and secure way to make sure that firms are capturing their full rebate opportunities.”
Within B2B, Moran added, automation has a tailwind as electronic payments functions are moving toward adopting methods that include commercial payment cards. Given the relationships that both Bottomline and Visa maintain with banks, the initial integration and adoption would seem to gravitate toward those clients.
Certainly, as B2B payments have grown, the ability to find cost savings and wring them from traditional AP processes has grown as well. Both Bottomline and Visa had been hearing the same concerns from their clients in reference to payments, said Moran, namely that they wanted to be able to capture the full spectrum of rebates available on a set timeframe, which led to conversations between the two companies some time ago. These conversations crystallized into the agreement that was finalized only as early as this month.
Bottomline, said Moran, had, in the meantime, been expanding its presence with Paymode-X across processing all payment types, and now with the Visa tie-in, commercial cards can be brought in to compliment the full continuum of payment types with the end result — greater efficiency — remaining the same.
One key benefit of the partnership will come as pain and friction points tied to the payments process are eliminated, posited Moran. Offering up an example, she said that a company that has worked primarily, say, with ACH as a standalone form of payment would traditionally have to undertake several processes to bring on a new payment type, such as commercial cards. Moran stated that that can mean “two onboarding activities and missed opportunities” in terms of cost savings and rebates, and there is also the redundancy of several systems operating at once.
Regardless of payment type, however, the movement to streamline the AP function means that costs reductions can help hit the bottom line in a positive way, as processing costs (such as labor and time) diminish. There is also the benefit of real-time data exchanged between those sending payment and those who get paid.
And, said Moran, as security continues to be a strong concern within the payments industry, Bottomline ensures that information and data resides within its portal and is not exchanged between users.