As technologies have emerged to make paying for things electronically more convenient, easy and secure, consumers are ditching their wallets and checkbooks in favor of mobile devices that now function as virtual payment portals. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, digital payment services like Apple Pay are catching fire. And that’s setting off sparks in the business world. Just as ApplePay is attempting to eliminate payment risk for consumers, new solutions are emerging to do the same for businesses. And innovative companies are slowly, but surely, embracing them to improve what remains a largely manual, error-prone and risky process.
Take Hayden Professional Services, Inc. As a provider of cell tower construction services, the 10-person company relies heavily on contractors. And it must pay them upfront, along with any fees associated with projects such as permits and inspections. With millions of dollars often in play, visibility into the timing and amount of payments from customers is critical.
“We need to be able to see what’s pending and when money is going to be deposited in order to move forward,” says Lisa MacPherson, the company’s Office Manager. “But typically, we would just get a notification that an invoice had been paid.”
As a result, MacPherson would spend the majority of her time trying to figure out which invoices were outstanding and why – a process she said could often take up to a year.
All of this changed, however, when a major customer began using AribaPay. Delivered via a business network, the service provides a secure and accurate way for businesses to exchange payments electronically. And similar to the manner in which Apple Pay drives security by not just removing the swipe from the point of sale, but the card number and security code altogether, AribaPay substitutes a non-sensitive proxy number at time of payment so that companies can complete the procure-to-pay process faster, easier, and with greater transparency and security than ever before.
MacPherson no longer has to guess when invoices will be paid or why there may be a delay. A detailed payment schedule provides her with a clear view into the status and outlines any action that may be needed to move things along. And, when an invoice has been paid, MacPherson is not only automatically notified, but receives detailed data that shows what a payment represents at the invoice and line-item level, fueling faster, more accurate reconciliation.
Hayden Professional Services is now seeing payments in 45 to 90 days now as opposed to five to six months. And this, says MacPherson, is helping the company to fuel growth. “The time we used to spend chasing after things can now be put toward getting new projects executed.”
Emerging payment technologies are certainly disruptive. But disruption fuels innovation. And innovation drives advantage. Companies who ditch their manual ways in favor of automated solutions will see less paper. They will suffer less risk and put less effort into managing bank account information and related data. They will uncover and resolve disputes faster, monitor on-going payments better and lower their processing costs and fraud risk. And – as Hayden Professional Services can attest – transform their business in the process.