The siloes between accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) continue to come down as service providers recognize the importance of facilitating payment acceptance as much as the capabilities of making those payments in the B2B context.
Last week, Bottomline Technologies Vice President of Strategy and Product Bill Wardwell explained in an interview with PYMNTS how streamlined, digital accounts payable processes can have an impact on suppliers' accounts receivable operations. The ideal strategy, he explained, is for corporates to introduce accounts payable technologies that offer suppliers a choice when it comes to how they submit invoices and receive payments.
"And once those invoices are approved, the solution should give the customer multiple payment methods to pay their suppliers without requiring multiple payment processes," he said.
Not only does the focus on the vendor promote payment acceptance, but it enables integration of invoice and transaction data across platforms for both buyer and supplier.
This week, the latest in AP solutions that target AR friction focus on commercial card acceptance, streamlined processes between buyer and supplier, and payment acceleration to limit the friction of chasing down unpaid invoices.
Visa, Mesh Put The 'Supplier First'
Visa and Mesh announced a collaboration last week, aiming to put the supplier first when enabling businesses to make payments using Visa's virtual prepaid commercial cards.
Their partnership targets cross-border B2B payments, and aims to promote speed and transparency for both buyer and supplier transactions. Mesh focuses on enabling smaller vendors in emerging markets to accept digital B2B payment methods in an effort to broaden their potential customer pools, helping those firms to process payments through their existing payment acceptance platforms.
Boost Teams With JPMorgan For Card Acceptance
Commercial card optimization firm Boost Payment Solutions announced a partnership with JPMorgan to promote the acceptance of JPMorgan's Single-Use Accounts and other commercial card payment solutions. JPMorgan's commercial card users will gain access to Boost's commercial card optimization platform and straight-through processing acceptors, expanding their card use in accounts payable by ensuring vendors can accept those cards.
According to the announcement, Boost will provide payment processing technology that automates commercial card payments and remittance postings, which, according to JPMorgan Head of Commercial Card John Skinner, brings benefits to both "commercial card clients and their suppliers."
"Boost's technology, paired with their supplier enrollment and reporting capabilities, enables our clients to overcome acceptance concerns and grow their card programs," he said in a statement.
Xero Aims For Supplier Payment Acceleration
With a slew of collaborations and integrations, small business accounting platform Xero is aiming for accelerated B2B payments that can not only enable buyers to more seamlessly make payments, but lessen the burden of chasing down late payments on the vendor side.
Connectivity with TransferWise, Stripe and GoCardless will enable Xero to "develop smarter and seamless ways for small businesses to go from idea to payment as quickly as possible," said Craig Walker, executive general manager of payments and billing solutions at Xero, in a statement.
Xero's partnership with GoCardless in particular supports the ability for B2B companies to collect recurring payments from across borders, and supports installment payment for invoices.
The Buyer-Supplier Disconnect
As accounts payable and commercial payment solution providers tackle friction for both buyer and supplier, industry experts have said seamless accounts payable that considers accounts receivable promotes a stronger strategic relationship between a company and its vendor.
However, new research from Accenture Interactive has warned that corporates are struggling to make meaningful connections with their suppliers, with sourcing initiatives largely taking place in digital ecosystems. Researchers found that 80 percent of frequent B2B buyers have switched suppliers at least once in a 24-month period — thanks to a lack of attention to their buying needs, and an inability to marry digital strategies with human interaction.
"Today's B2B leaders are struggling with how to effectively integrate human interactions with digital experiences that enhance customer service," said Glen Hartman, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive North America and global digital marketing, in a statement.
As today's AP innovators have shown, promoting a strong buyer-supplier relationship is a process that extends beyond the initial sourcing phase. While vendors can promote a better relationship with deeper, more meaningful interactions, buyers can promote a better relationship with elevated B2B payment practices.