Consumer payment disruption will finally force B2B automation

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If you think about how people used to rent a movie, call a cab or book a place to stay, disruptive companies have changed the way consumers hear about, choose and pay for products and services.

Corporate payment professionals have become accustomed to fast, easy, frictionless digital experiences. They now demand more when it comes to the business payments they manage in their work lives. Convenience, speed, flexibility and intelligence are no longer on the wish list but are the baseline expectation.

So why has it taken so long for business payments to even start to catch up to their consumer counterparts? The reason is simple: complexity.
Business payments involve considerably greater scale and detail than consumer payments. Think about someone receiving money from a friend through a peer-to-peer payment app like Zelle or Venmo. They know exactly what the money was for — $4.50 for coffee, $17 for a movie or $123 for concert tickets. The payment process is simple and clear and the “remittance” data is understood and transmitted easily through casual conversation.

There’s no such ease or simplicity with business payments. Large organizations make and receive thousands of payments each week from around the globe, a veritable flood of complex data that needs to be processed and reconciled in terms of what’s been paid and what’s still owed.

Such tasks require robust payment systems, which is why many businesses continue to make most of their payments using checks. It isn’t ideal and it certainly isn’t cost effective, but it’s by far the easiest for organizations because the processes and people are already in place to process those transactions, not to mention the fact that all the necessary remittance information is included with the check.

When thinking about the current state of business payments and considering how the future is evolving, we can see the same digital transformation that impacted the consumer world beginning to occur. There’s a clear vision of what business payments could — and should — be in a digital world: simple, smart and secure. The next few years will by marked by businesses of all sizes adopting the technology and processes necessary to make business payments truly digital.

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