This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.
Payments is a fast-moving landscape, and at Bottomline we’ve been analysing the latest trends and initiatives for the past four years. Our Business Payments Barometer takes the pulse of the UK payments industry, focusing on UK corporates and taking into account wider European directives and global trends.
This year our research revealed a mobile-first focus. For the first time, mobile topped the table of influences that will have the greatest impact on business payment processes over the next 12 months, sending Brexit and security to second and third place respectively. Mobile has already firmly established itself among consumers, and businesses are following suit. Financial decision-makers now expect to be able to approve and handle confidential payments information while on the move.
A possible obstacle in the emerging world of open data and collaboration is that 92% of payers admitted to paying late – even though 90% of corporates will have access to and use real-time payments by the end of 2020. There’s no technical or regulatory reason for this. It’s just deeply ingrained in their accounting routines, so while the behaviour will change, it could move slowly.
Fraud is always high on the agenda, and sadly this year just under half (45%) of corporates – of all sizes – were affected. The average amount of those frauds has risen to over £240,000, and only 20% of those funds – or less – is recovered. With ongoing attention across the industry, we hope to see this trend start to reverse.
For organisations that can see the opportunities, the accelerating trend for the consumerisation of business payments holds great promise – and a lot of regulatory work supports this. But while Open Banking and the second Payment Services Directive hold massive opportunity for corporates to take control of data, these aren’t yet fully understood. With so much change in the industry right now, it’s difficult for companies to resource the right priorities so they not only comply with regulation but can also enhance their operations to become more competitive.
Better communication is needed, and there’s never been a greater need for a trusted business advisor who can help the business both to make sure it has the basics covered and identify and act on new opportunities. One Business Payments Barometer respondent said they rely on their solution provider to keep them abreast of all the changes. That’s a good, collaborative model that enables them to scan the market and take the best ideas. But whether your trusted advisor is a partner or part of your internal team – if you don’t already have one, now is the time to find one.
Ed Adshead-Grant is general manager of payments at Bottomline Technologies
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