Corporate financial services providers taking aim at accounts payable friction this week pulled double-duty with new tools that also addressed friction for clients’ suppliers.
It’s a multitasking strategy that was deployed by Bank of America, Bill.com and U.S. Bank, each of which launched new accounts payable (AP) offerings that impact the biller-side of the transaction. Bank of America’s latest offering, for example, addresses payment acceptance challenges, while Bill.com marries accounts receivable (AR) and AP with tools that tackle friction in processes that touch both ends of the B2B payments journey. Finally, U.S. Bank introduced a new eBilling tool also designed both for billers and payers.
Together, the latest in AP solutions reflect the growing emphasis on how AP processes affect payees and billers, including corporate suppliers, as well as AP’s opportunity to support vendors via faster payments, easier payment acceptance, reconciliation and data connectivity.
Bank of America Optimizes Payment Choice
Designed to take the guesswork out of AP, Bank of America’s new Accounts Payable Optimization solution is certainly marketed as a tool that reduces friction for corporate payers. But a closer look at the offering, announced last week, also reveals significant attention paid to the supplier. Bank of America can automatically choose a payment method with which an invoice should be paid in order to ensure vendor acceptance, and to promote stronger buyer-supplier relationships.
The bank’s Accounts Payable Optimization tool will automatically analyze which payment method is most appropriate for which supplier, and it can integrate its existing commercial card, supply chain finance and FX payments offerings. The solution supports invoice payments via wire, ACH, commercial card or supply chain financing, allowing a single file upload for all treasury payables.
Bill.com Multitasks for the Middle Market
Bill.com, a corporate payments firm, announced enhancements to its platform with a focus on the middle market, and its improved functionality is keeping a close eye on the AR department. The firm announced updates last week, adding a Purchase Orders function that allows users to connect POs generated from their ERPs and integrate them into Bill.com for approval and payment in collaboration with AP teams.
Bill.com also expanded its cross-border payment capabilities, as well as added new functionality to its Intelligent Virtual Assistant, enabling data to automatically migrate from an invoice into the required payment field for accelerated payments. In its announcement, the firm pointed to the challenges of AR and AP, and the opportunity for data connectivity and integration to address friction in processes and workflows that touch both AR and AP sides of transactions.
The new services demonstrate Bill.com’s focus on both AR and AP friction, with Bill.com CEO René Lacerte noting that both AR and AP challenges are heightened as companies scale.
“These new offerings will provide insights for customers to act on and enable them to automate their AP/AR processes, thus saving significant time and money while greatly improving productivity,” Lacerte added.
U.S. Bank Targets Both Billers and Payers
The newest eBilling solution offered by U.S. Bank aims to simplify processes for both billers and payers, with the financial institution collaboration with FinTech Alacriti to optimize services on both the AR and AP sides.
Last week, the bank announced its U.S. Bank eBill Service, designed to provide billers with greater choice in how they are paid, while offering payers — including consumers and small businesses — to digitize their bill payment operations, including faster payments. In whole, the service aims to accelerate bill payments, meaning improved working capital for billers and greater efficiency for payers.