Amex finds new roles for its supply-chain financing tools

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Two years after launching Early Pay to expedite B2B payments via discounts, American Express is taking on more of the tasks that surround transactions.

Buyers can now give all of their invoices to Amex for automatic reconciliation, even when they’re not seeking any financing or early-payment discounts from suppliers, Amex announced this week.

“Early Pay originally was meant to ease working capital and give discounts to suppliers who agreed to get paid early, but many corporations said they wanted us to do more, including handling all payments to their suppliers beyond just those who wanted to be paid early,” said Daniel Brachfeld, Amex’s vice president and general manager of Supply Chain Solutions.

A retooled version of Early Pay available this month streamlines the enrollment process, so suppliers will be automatically engaged when buyers present invoices to Amex.

Once enrolled, businesses send invoice details digitally to Amex, which in turn makes early payment offers to eligible suppliers via email, with corresponding discounts for buyers. Whether or not the supplier accepts the early payment option, Amex will pay the supplier’s invoice via ACH and automatically handle the reconciliation process for buyers.

“We’ve branched beyond financing to handle the full payment cycle, giving buyers and suppliers a range of choices based on their cash-flow needs of the moment,” Brachfeld said.

Buyers can capture invoice discounts from suppliers by opting for early payments funded (and made) either by Amex or the buyer; suppliers can choose to accept discounts on all invoices or on a per-invoice basis, he explained.

Amex reconciles the payments and presents customers with a file they can either integrate with their ERP system or review manually, according to Brachfeld.

“The pandemic has put extra pressure on cash flow and working capital for both buyers and suppliers, corporations are telling us they want help with efficiency, so essentially we’re letting them outsource more of that work to us,” he said.

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