October 26, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Procure-to-Pay (P2P) software is highly reliant on technological innovation, and providers that match customer needs with cutting-edge technology are the ones that succeed. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and robotic process automation are the most widely discussed emerging technologies by providers, and we regularly see updates and features that utilize these in procurement and accounts payable software. However, there is one emerging technology that is being looked over by many P2P providers, which is a loss to both the providers and their potential customers.
The new transaction network developed by The Clearing House (TCH) called Real-time payments (RTP®) goes beyond making payments easier, but has the potential to revolutionize the way money is moved between businesses. RTP enables organizations and financial institutions (FIs) to send and receive money instantaneously and also allows for value-add messaging (such as information relevant to the transaction) to be sent with it. This makes the reconciliation and matching processes significantly easier, and it offers a new way to manage parts of the accounting process.
When examining the top challenges of manual AP, we see that companies are struggling with manual data entry and routing, lost purchasing documents, invoice to payment matching, and inability to approve purchases. When examining the functionality and benefits of RTP, it becomes clear that it offers a fantastic solution to many of these issues. RTP provides immediate access to receiving funds, transaction status, and control of cash flow, all of which increase visibility into organizational financial health and improved rapport with vendors. Because RTP takes place in real time and can include important information such as invoices, numbers, and dates, there is considerably less guesswork on where this data is for both buyers and suppliers and on where a check or ACH is in the approval process.
Yet despite the obvious use case of RTP in the AP process, speaking to P2P providers typically yields (video conference) blank stares. The Levvel Research team often hears: “We don’t really see the connection between the two.”; “Isn’t that more of a thing for banks?”; and “Our customers and prospects aren’t asking for RTP.” They’re right about the last point — many organizations don’t know about RTP, much less what it can do to improve their back office.
However, while organizations may not be asking for RTP by name, they are asking for improved visibility into their payables processes, which RTP enables. They are concerned with supply chain continuity, which RTP creates by moving funds to struggling suppliers quicker. They are worried about liquidity and improved control of cash flow, which RTP produces. Levvel is seeing a missed opportunity for software providers that don’t connect the needs of businesses with the new, innovative technology that meets those needs.
So what’s next for P2P providers? What should they do to explore RTP? Levvel Research believes they have a large role to play in the future of the new transaction network. They should be looking into partnerships with FI’s, thinking about how RTP could fit into their tool, and educating businesses on how it works. Per one of Levvel Research’s latest publications, 2021 Real-Time Payments for Businesses, half of organizations using RTP adopted it to further automate AP and almost 40% of those thinking about doing so are driven by the same goal. RTP and P2P are undeniably linked and the timeline for RTP is sooner than many back-office automation software providers believe. Those who accommodate this new transaction network could turn it into competitive advantage against other providers.
Major Bottoms Jr.
Senior Research Consultant
Major Bottoms Jr. is a Senior Research Consultant for Levvel Research based in Charlotte, NC. He plays a key role in the analysis and presentation of data for Levvel’s research reports, webinars, and consulting engagements. Major’s expertise lies in the Procure-to-Pay, Source-to-Settle, and travel and expense management processes and software, as well as technologies and strategies across DevOps, digital payments, design systems, and application development. Prior to joining Levvel, Major held various roles in the mortgage finance field at Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Major graduated with a degree in Finance from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.
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