Billing outsourcer BillTrust has developed new invoice technology that uses streamlined processing and dispute resolution to boost businesses payments automation, a segment that has traditionally lagged consumer payments in reducing paper processing.

The Hamilton, N.J.-based BillTrust's new version of Invoice Gateway incudes a redesigned user interface and enables bill organization, invoice filtering, a new system to communicate invoice disputes, and easier integration with accounting programs.

"How can we as an industry drive more electronic business to business payments? It's important to show people how they can connect with different accounting systems," says Mitch Rose, a senior vice president at BillTrust.

By using a Web-based download model and redesigning the site to resemble the look and feel of other transaction Web and mobile sites, BillTrust hopes to make it easier for companies to migrate to electronic payments by reducing the navigation required to connect the disparate banking and accounting programs used in business to business payments.

"The new design is more consistent with what today's expectations are among people who use online portals," Rose says.

Once connected, Invoice Gateway allows users to view an electronic replica of a paper bill; research bills by criteria such as date, amount, open balance, location and PO Box number; search for bills based on invoiced or PO Box number, download invoice data into accounting packages and dispute invoices by line item.

"There are two parties involved in the payment and you need to make sure to provide a connection that allows them to do business in the manner that they want with each other," says Rose. "If the buyer is a smaller business that uses QuickBooks or a similar program, you want to make it easier for them to import data and to make payments with the other party. If it's a more sophisticated buyer with more requirements, we can connect with a larger system."

Payments executives offer a number of explanations as to why business payments lag consumer payments in automation, including inertia and messaging problems.

The volume and diversity of payments that businesses make and receive also makes automation challenging, Rose says. "On the business-to-business side, people get multiple bills each month…and [the redesigned portal] allows people to organize which ones get paid, which ones are due payments," Rose says.

BillTrust's clients include Kraft, Under Armour, Land O' Lakes and CDW. Rose did not disclose users of the new invoice program, saying the product is in pilot testing and will be deployed more broadly in the coming months, Rose says.

Other companies are also targeting business payments automation. Bill.com, which integrates its cash flow tools into banks' small business software, also introduced a risk-based security system to speed processing.

Fiserv is also targeting small businesses with new payments with new billing technology.

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