It has been said more than once but continues to ring true: the rapid acceleration of digital payments is here to stay. But how does that impact businesses? And how can corporates ensure they are prepared for this permanent shift?
To answer these questions and discuss other key issues, PaymentsJournal hosted a recent webinar titled Digital Payments: What Corporates Should Tackle Now. In the webinar, expert speakers Sarkis Akmakjian, Senior Director of Payments Products at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, and Steve Murphy, Director of Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group, offered additional insight into the rise of digital payments.
Trends in corporate banking and payments
According to Mercator Advisory Group, four major trends emerged in 2020 as successful themes for commercial banking and payments: digitalization, collaboration, platform banking, and risk management.
“Given the reality of work from home and the shortcomings of legacy processes, platform banking and services are definitely poised to gain traction given the need to improve bank efficiency, given the coming changeover in payments standards to ISO 20022, and [given] the growing adoption of artificial intelligence tools like machine learning. Modernizing architecture and developing products in a more agile environment, similar to the way fintechs operate is starting to become more prevalent,” explained Murphy.
Risk management is foundational to the success of the financial services industry. “The various risks that corporates deal with include credit, liquidity, market, operational, and reputational risks. Focusing on operational for the moment, that really is the possibility of financial loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes or people and systems,” Murphy added. External events, such as the impact of cyberattack and payments fraud, also fall under the umbrella of risk.
Not properly managing these risks leads to capital issues, regulatory pressures and action, compliance fines, and other negative consequences. In other words, the ability to successfully manage risk is not optional.
Corporates are at various stages in their digitalization journeys
Above all, COVID-19 highlighted the need for corporates to maintain business continuity. “Without question, what we saw a little more than a year ago was a testament to [those] external forces. The pandemic really brought that issue to the forefront in terms of business continuity,” said Akmakjian.
Yet for some businesses, continuity is being hindered by continued reliance on inefficient manual processes. For example, despite a steady decline in recent years, checks are still being used for nearly half of all corporate payment volume. Digital payments reduce the inevitable inefficiencies that occur when businesses rely on paper checks.
Switching to digital payments not only makes the payments process more efficient, but also gives corporates the opportunity to capture a greater breadth of data analytics. “That, in turn, is leading corporates to engage more closely with their banks and reach out to fintechs to identify ways in which they can harness this data to gain greater insights,” he added.
Organizations that have embraced digital transformation are focusing their effort on end-to-end modernization. “What we find is that corporates are looking at every point of the buyer-supplier process in order to identify areas where they can modernize and optimize to fully exploit what digital transformation could mean for them. That means everything from the point of capture, in terms of invoicing, all the way to reconciliation,” explained Akmakjian.
With the help of valued partners that have the resources, expertise, data, and product capabilities to accelerate digital transformation, corporates can position themselves to thrive in an increasingly digital world. Accuity’s recent merger with LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, which created one of the largest global providers of compliance risk and payments efficiency solutions, enables it to offer enhanced support to corporate customers hoping to achieve modernization.
“If you have more predictability around payment flows, and if you use technology, there’s a potential there to use that technology to harness the power of some of that working capital. I think we will see this happening more as a greater number of providers take advantage of technology to gain valuable insight into the industry,” Akmakjian concluded.
Learn more about how to approach digital transformation
In the recent webinar hosted by PaymentsJournal, Akmakjian and Murphy discuss several additional factors influencing corporates’ digital payments strategies, including:
- The impending conversion to ISO 20022
- The growing adoption of artificial intelligence and movement to the cloud
- The risks keeping bankers awake at night—and how they can be addressed