The payments industry has long been in need of disruption. And change has finally come—driven, at least in part, by the coronavirus pandemic.
On the consumer side, in its State of Retail Payments, the NRF reports 67% of retailers now accept some form of no-touch payment. That includes 58% that accept contactless cards, up from 40% last year, and 56% that take digital wallet payments on mobile phones, up from 44%. This year, no-touch payments increased 69% among the retailers surveyed.
There’s movement, too, on the B2B front—also fueled by the Covid-19 crisis, where businesses historically have been slow to adapt to automated payments.
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To gain insight into the trend, and to find out how it’s impacting businesses, I checked in with Josh Cyphers, President of Nvoicepay, a financial technology company specializing in intelligent payment automation.
What are some of the big trends driving B2B payments?
Josh Cyphers: Paper checks still reign supreme in B2B payments, but Covid-19 has created a compelling event that is really pushing companies toward fully automating payments. This is a significant shift. Over the last 10 to 15 years, check use has been ticking down ever so slowly. According to the 2019 AFP Electronic Payments Survey Report, in 2019 organizations made 42% of their supplier payments by check, down from 81% in 2004.
Now that accounts payable departments are working remotely, companies are trying to minimize the amount of manual work that requires trips to the office or to employee’s homes to get them to sign checks. Suppliers would rather be paid electronically because they get the money faster, and they don’t have to go to the bank. It will be interesting to see the 2020 AFP report and see if the pandemic pushes organizations to finally give up checks.
The other thing that’s happening is an extreme focus on managing cash. Given the economic environment we’re in, many companies are looking for ways to conserve cash. They’re looking at the timing of payments, extending payment terms to suppliers, or delaying payments. With an automated solution, all the payment approvals and workflow are online, and you have visibility into every payment as it moves through the system—giving you precision control over cash flow.