When it comes to purchasing goods and getting paid, customers want convenience and businesses are looking for new ways to offer it. Whether paying for their morning coffee with as many choices as ordering it (iPhone, cash, Starbucks card, Square) to cashing company checks (with lockbox services, remote scanning at the office, at the bank or via phone), new options offer added value and can make for happier customers.
Businesses, particularly, are seeking more options in payment and remittance processing — from greater flexibility processing in-house paper checks and remittances to accepting the latest forms of mobile transactions, such as the ability to swipe or beam payments and capture relevant remittance data, companies struggle with processing receivables.
Driving this demand is improving customer service and reducing time-to-cash. About one-third of midsize companies state that the timing of payments is their company’s top challenge with regard to receivables processing, and that processing receivables requires a lot of manpower, according to a recent survey by Parascript and Aite Group.
With businesses of all sizes striving to reduce overhead and get their money faster, this provides an opportunity for banks to provide new services through new types of transaction processing. Many midsized companies are looking for a solution that enables their business customers to go to their websites and sign up for a “super receivables” treasury management system that allows them to choose and seamlessly integrate all of their remittance channels, whether it is paper, email or ACH payments. These value-added services tend to be more “sticky,” as businesses organize their corporate processes around the additional service, making it ever-more difficult to remove.
From a technological perspective, many banks already have partial experience with the technologies needed to deploy these new solutions, via their remote deposit capture platforms. RDC’s primary role is check processing, but the infrastructure it utilizes provides a logical front-end for additional, “plug-in” payments and receivables processing services. These infrastructures, evolved, can also be the logical front-end to additional payment services deployments.
One company offering business solutions with this philosophy is Open Scan, which provides cash application solutions, including cloud-based accounts receivable automation. Open Scan provides treasury management for chains of stores at the POS terminal, allowing the home office to receive payments along with data to update receivables simultaneously.
Banks could use this or similar technology to enable companies to record and recognize revenue faster with less manual intervention.
But embracing these new technologies to provide better customer service and remain competitive is easier said than done. Breaking down multiple silos and accepting more payment means are just a few of the challenges. Banks must also seek technologies that speed payment processing while ensuring fraud prevention. Much of the processing is best done at the point of sale, yet it must be smooth and seamless for customers to remain happy and not to interrupt service. It must also be scalable, because new forms of payments seem to be sprouting up monthly. (Bitcoins, anyone?)
Following are four considerations for choosing technologies to support these new payment processing platforms.
Does the receivables solution offer the ability to apply it on top of your existing infrastructure without requiring a “rip and replace”?
Choose a receivables platform from a provider that enables the functionality of distributed remittance capture as a plug-in app that can be incorporated into existing interaction channels and applications.
Ensure your payment options are relatively easy to deploy, easy to use and provide value-add to your customers. Improving time-to-cash is a critical opportunity here.
Get to the critical mid-market by keeping up-front costs low and the offering flexible/adaptable to their changing business environments.
Extendability (Or Adaptability)
Does the product allow the ability to address new payment options without requiring significant integration, data translation needs or multiple, disparate business rules management?
Banks need to first establish a modern and current technology layer that can sit on top of existing systems and allow them to plug-in other payment methods to extend their technology and receivables.
More and more capabilities are being deployed as Web services that allow extension of new capabilities merely through subscribing to these new offerings without the upfront investment risk associated with purchasing new technology.
Is the product relatively easy to use/configure/alter/deploy?
The technology needs to be intuitive. Having an integrated and seamless technology and process enables businesses to avoid having to go through various steps and using three to four different payment processing technologies. It is a great relationship builder for banks. The easier it is for a business to just subscribe to a new service without upfront configuration, the more likely it is to try it and continue using it.
Remember that you are pushing out what used to be back-office capture and moving it in to real-time capture, so do not forget to put on your consumer hat. Make sure the product is consumer friendly and easy to use. Anything the bank can do to ease the payment process for a business and help the customer save money is a win-win.
Can the product be configured to support the values of your brand and the experience you want to convey to your user?
Do not forget that you have two relationship opportunities: 1) your corporate customer and 2) the end-user base. Consider how your branding points flow through the payment lifecycle (terminal logos, splash screens and mobile apps).
Ultimately, providing these services means thinking of the value to your B2B customer, and decreasing time-to-cash, which makes the customer happy and makes your institution a stronger partner.
Don Dew is director of marketing and Greg Council is director of product management for Parascript. Contact Dew at 303-381-4137 or don.dew(at)parascript.com. Contact Council at 303-381-3116 or greg.council(at)parascript.com.
Copyright (c) December 2013 by BankNews Media