COVID-19 has afforded internet villains what will certainly go down as the greatest cybertheft opportunity of their shadowy lifetimes. Business email compromise (BEC), B2B phishing scams, synthetic identities, fake accounts and trillions of aid dollars flooding out at a time of maximum uncertainty make this a fraudster’s paradise.
For bigger scores like financial institutions (FIs) and online merchants, scammers are using ransomware, account takeovers (ATO), phishing and other malicious means to shake down companies already reeling from disruptions.
In the April The Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker®, a PYMNTS and Bottomline Technologies collaboration, we discover how accounts payable (AP) developments like invoice automation and spend tracking save and earn money, while AP automation hardens systems against COVID-era fraud.
More Vulnerable in AP
The sudden arrival of a pandemic caught everyone off-guard, including companies running legacy AP systems that are costly and difficult to reconfigure – to say nothing of the ongoing reliance on paper invoices and checks, which are certain to contract even more now.
“…Fifty-four percent of surveyed companies in the United States [said] they will not miss any of their payment obligations, despite financial staff working remote[ly],” the report states. “Other companies were less prepared and expected to struggle to process invoices and miss some payments. Manual practices may be hindering such companies’ abilities to keep up normal payment practices, and the pandemic may shine a light on companies that need to seriously examine automation tools and other modernizations.”
Considering that, “AP operations were the area in which 90 percent of companies saw [fraud] issues the most,” the latest Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker notes. “Companies can tighten security by requiring those seeking access to AP systems to undergo MFA [multi-factor authentication], which requires users to verify their identities with at least two types of credentials.”
Telling PYMNTS in a recent interview that “no doubt, [COVID] will accelerate the digital transformation of business payments,” Bottomline Technologies CEO Rob Eberle echoed findings in the latest Tracker that AP departments need to upgrade now for what’s next.
“Vendors that are nervous about their cash flows are requesting greater transparency into their payments’ statuses,” the report states, “and this is simply not possible when funds are being made via checks sent through the mail.”
Next-Level Payments Security
With one study finding that employee fraud goes undetected by business owners for an average of 16 months, AP automation and the theft detection/prevention it provides is one of the primary weapons businesses can employ to minimize fraud in these hectic times.
“Businesses are automating parts of their AP workflows for a variety of reasons, including to make operations more convenient and secure,” the report states.
“Companies that cannot keep fraudsters from accessing their resources will be hard-pressed to invest in these systems to salvage the damage and move forward,” it continues. “Businesses must also be able to clearly detect and catch false payment claims so they do not mistakenly reject genuine invoices from suppliers and damage valuable relationships. Foiling AP fraud may be tricky, but automation systems can bring payments security to the next level.”