Just 30% of SMBs Have Taken Steps to Automate AP Processes

As more businesses make the shift to fully digital transaction processes, new PYMNTS data suggests concerns about the move to real-time payments are making that transfer more difficult, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as the cost of making such upgrades is affordable only to large companies.

As a result, just 30% of SMBs have begun to automate their accounts payable (AP) processes to deploy instant payments, compared to 58% of larger businesses that have done so, according to The CFO’s Guide to Digitizing B2B Payments, a PYMNTS and Comdata collaboration.

Concerns About Security Risks

In addition to the costs of upgrading legacy systems, companies are concerned about security risks. One-third of firms are worried about B2B payments fraud, and 26% are concerned about the security of the sensitive data these payments contain.

Security is a perennial concern when it comes to real-time payments, as hackers located remotely can intercept transactions much more easily than thieves who must physically snatch paper checks or payment cards from businesses or banks.

These security and cost obstacles are far from insurmountable, though, as new technologies are growing more commonplace among forward-thinking companies. Application programming interfaces (APIs), anomaly detection systems and webhooks are three of the most promising of these innovations. They have the potential to mitigate the concerns of businesses by forming secure and compliant payment networks that can process transactions efficiently.

Capabilities of New Technologies

APIs provide a high level of security for instant payments by leveraging rotating keys, unique identifiers that authenticate users and developers accessing an API. Periodically issuing new keys means those that have been stolen by fraudsters will be useful for only a short period of time.

Anomaly detection systems can further secure API-based instant payment systems by deploying machine learning (ML) protocols that sort through the thousands of daily transactions enabled by a given API, thus establishing a baseline for normal activity. Any unusual commands, transactions or login attempts are then spotted and flagged or blocked.

Webhooks can also promote fast and secure real-time payments. They consist of code snippets that keep key data in sync between two or more remote applications, such as sending and receiving payments processors. Webhooks can immediately detect when payments are sent and approved during a transaction, saving accounting staff precious time in cross-referencing receipts and confirmations to ensure that payments were made and accepted.

With real-time payments becoming more important than ever to ensure speedy and seamless transactions, APIs, anomaly detection systems and webhooks could be crucial to making them secure and accessible to many businesses. Equipped with these technologies, many smaller businesses can move to digital-first systems.