The Future of Payables is Digital, Fast, Automated and Working Globally: Takeaways from AFP 2021

By Uma Wilson

Partner Content
UMB Bank Partner Content

The Future of Payables is Digital

Last November I had the pleasure of participating in two panels at the AFP 2021 conference, as well as connecting with a number of colleagues. Below are my top takeaways, which I hope you’ll find helpful.

The future of payable is digital 

The world of payables is rapidly changing. The remote nature of the coronavirus pandemic quickly pushed all industries further into digitalization, whether they were ready or not, and we’re now seeing the impact — a continuing need for faster and more efficient processes. As technology continues to advance and more businesses adapt to the digital world, we’ll see more changes in payables than ever before.

Speed is king 

There’s no question that speed plays a significant role in the future of payables. Rather than paying with paper checks or filing paper invoices, businesses can expedite these processes with digitalization and automation. Not only will these changes make it easier for businesses to pay and interact with their vendors, it will also increase their ROI. Time is money, so now is the time to decrease the time spent on payments and accounts payables and increase productivity.

Reduce fraud with automation 

When thinking about fraud, the first thing that typically comes to mind is employees committing check fraud. However, suppliers are far more likely to inadvertently commit check fraud. This is because many suppliers don’t have proper oversight over how they’re paying their vendors; they’ll receive a fraudulent invoice and pay it, and once the payment has been submitted, it’s nearly impossible to recoup. This loss of money on a client’s vendor side can create a trickle-down impact, so it’s critical to ensure vendor partners have necessary controls in place to avoid fraudulent exposure.

Additionally, working with physical payments and invoices inherently increases the risk for fraud. Checks contain all of a business’ information and can be easily replicated. Working digitally, however, allows a company to create additional layers of protection such as creating ghost accounts.

While people will always be our best defense against fraud, technology can help identify fraudulent activity, and automation can streamline payment processes, leaving less room for error.

Working globally becomes more commonplace

Thanks to digitalization and advances in technology, working globally is easier than ever, and these advances have led to a greater ubiquity of payment format opportunities. The primary upside to these advances in global digital payment products is that they allow businesses to work together seamlessly without the barrier of location.

As more companies adopt new technologies, payments will continue to be impacted and, in turn, become more efficient, secure and nimble. Digitalization and the automation of processes will not only give businesses more control, but will also increase value.

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