Despite a steady march toward electronic payments, business-to-business (B2B) paper invoices and check payments remain all too common, creating costly and time-consuming manual reconciliation processes. According to a 2017 NACHA and Credit Research Foundation report, checks still make up about half of all corporate payments received1. Approximately 71% of remittance information related to electronic payments travels separately from the payments typically sent via email2. Thus, the process is currently disjointed. As a result, organizations are maintaining multiple – typically costly – processes for handling checks along with other payment types, which include ACH, wires, cards and even digital wallets.
This cumbersome reconciliation process involves data keying, physical movements, paper sorting and extensive research, as data still needs to be tied back to open accounts receivables (AR) in order to close out invoices in your back office system.
These pain points are driving the need to streamline and automate accounts receivables processing. Help is available to optimize efficiency and visibility within cash application to improve match rates, reduce delays in posting and enhance your working capital management.
Advanced reconciliation tools, as a part of an end-to-end solution, can move your organization closer to straight-through processing, enhance internal visibility and repurpose AR personnel to other value-added initiatives. That is why we continue to invest in and build flexible, proprietary and scalable reconciliation tools. They are driven by advanced data processing, machine learning and application programming interfaces (APIs) to help integrate and transform the way you do business.
A growing number of effective options have become available to streamline the process of associating payment to remittance data, moving your organization closer to straight-through processing (STP). Amongst the cutting-edge tools available, optical character recognition (OCR) can identify and lift data from documents and payments received to identify key elements your organization needs to perform a two-way match of payment and remittance.
While many solutions will only match payment and remittance, we have made significant strides in developing three-way matching technologies that coordinate the payment and remittance to your open accounts receivables. This process can be further developed with machine learning. This would include a self-learning process that continually improves performance by adding missing details and enhancing data based on your business rules.
Another globally-used tool is virtual reference numbers (VRNs). This tool allows receivers to identify recurring wire and ACH payments from counterparties. This makes it easier to reconcile payments and remittances by associating a specific identifier to the counterparty, thus improving STP.
Formatting and the use of all necessary fields when posting receivables is also critically important to achieving STP. The widespread adoption of the XML-based ISO 20022 financial messaging standard will allow payment and remittance information to travel end-to-end. It is expected that the adoption of ISO 20022 standards will drive the growing use of electronic payments.
To take advantage of the tools available to help increase STP, application programming interfaces, or APIs, are now available to make integration easier, thus providing real-time visibility into your AR. APIs are not the only option (your favorite batch file transmission is still available), but organizations of all sizes are moving towards APIs because of their speed, flexibility and security. The result of this level of integration will provide end-users with an improved digital experience and reduced operational risk.
More organizations are seeking solutions that address the challenge of reconciling multiple payment types, as well as other challenges across the accounts receivable life cycle. The right partner will support your business strategy for cash application and integrate modern technologies with your internal systems to drive better performance in payment processing, three-way automated reconciliation and maintain the integrity of your data. A more efficient approach may help improve your bottom line, which may positively influence credit decisions and relationships with your customers.
As a trusted leader in providing treasury management services to large corporations and multinational companies around the globe, we are committed to developing and offering end-to-end receivables and payables solutions to help support your needs and objectives.
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