‘Uberization’ of retail still has lots of room for growth

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Today’s consumers expect companies to follow the Amazons, Netflixes and Ubers of the world in providing a streamlined digital experience, including how they move money to cover the costs of goods and how they receive payment from other parties.

Fewer than 30 percent of CFOs across industries say their organizations are investing in new technologies to enhance the efficiency of their financial processes, controls and analytical and decision support, and this limits their potential to elevate the consumer experience.

When companies cling to outdated methods of payment processing, the results is a highly fragmented consumer experience. It also adds unnecessary administrative costs and decreases efficiency.
For example, when an auto accident occurs, policyholders want to get back in the driver’s seat as soon as possible. But because auto accidents usually require payments to multiple parties—doctors, hospitals, body shops and towing companies—it’s not always a fast or straightforward process. For instance, when policyholders receive a check to cover repairs, they may have to endorse the check themselves, then take the check to a body shop to be signed before they may retrieve their car. It’s a multistep process that adds time to an already frustrating process.

While it may seem daunting, moving away from paper-based payment can be as easy as adding complementary solutions and services from a third-party vendor or making small tweaks to your existing platform with the support of in-house IT resources. Here are some strategies to consider.
Develop a mobile-centric approach to customer interactions—including payment. Consumers are used to driving experiences through their phones—and companies need to meet that demand. So why not offer consumers the ability to view and pay their bills on a mobile device, and present multiple options for electronic payments? Give policyholders and service providers the option of selecting their preferred payment method, such as automated clearinghouse (ACH), direct-to-debit or check — whatever they prefer. Note that some mobile solutions are web-enabled solutions that integrate easily into existing systems or can be white-labeled for stand-alone use.

Offer options for electronic funds transfer (EFT). Electronic payment not only eliminates the potential for check fraud, but also provides greater convenience for consumers and other parties. The most popular form of EFT—ACH payment—also speeds time to payment, with payment from typically arriving 10 days sooner than check payments.
Consider virtual card payments. When making business-to-business payments, virtual cards are preferred by a number of industries, with total spend for business-to-business transactions expected to reach $377 billion this year.

Virtual cards are loaded with the amount of the payment. No enrollment is required, payment processing and reconciliation time is markedly reduced. And when payment data is combined with claims remittance data in industries like auto insurance, workers’ compensation and health care, this reduces time spent on administrative activities, enabling staff to focus on more value-added work.

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