Dare to be Different: What to Look for in a Payments Partner
I have spent the better part of my career consulting with organizations on implementing corporate payment solutions. This includes everything from ePayables (virtual cards), to single file payment solutions, to purchasing and fuel card programs. One thing I can count on is a reluctance to look outside their bank when exploring payments solutions. The hesitancy is driven by a fear that by working outside of their core banking partner(s), their relationship and terms will change.
It’s understandable. It’s an existing relationship. Someone within the organization has spent countless hours negotiating everything from lines of credit to FX rates. Bringing in a new provider sounds like a lengthy, headache-inducing process. It’s not and doesn’t have to be. There is a myriad of benefits when considering a non-banking payments partner. For one, in a scenario where you have multiple banking partners, selecting one banking partner over the other for a new service may upset the apple cart and cause unneeded tension within your banking relationships.
Here are a few questions to consider:
If you decided to change treasury partners, would your payments program be affected? Your payments partner should provide you the freedom to change your treasury relationship without affecting your payments program.
Can your payments partner integrate with your ERP across all payment types? Your payments partner should be able to integrate directly with your accounting software or ERP across all payment types (EFTs, ePayables, card payments, ACH and checks).
Does your payments partner offer monthly rebates? I emphasize the word monthly because many banks only offer annual rebates, creating a lost opportunity to use these funds throughout the year. Also, why mess with points programs that have restrictions on when and how they can be used? Rebates offer the flexibility of being used for any purchase – or to improve your bottom line.
Will you get the service and support you need? At a bank, payments are just one of 100 products they sell, which doesn’t always equate to the service and support your organization needs for its best payments program. Your payments provider should partner with you to understand your business and strategic goals and then constantly monitor your program to identify additional opportunities to generate more rebate revenue, increase controls and make your internal processes more efficient.
What is their vendor enrollment process? For an ePayables program to be successful, it’s imperative you have maximum vendor enrollment. When selecting a payments provider, make sure you understand their vendor enrollment process – do they only enroll vendors at the onset of your campaign? Or worse, are you required to enroll your own vendors?
Optimizing your AP processes should be about reducing costs, saving time, improving cash flow and mitigating risk, not about placating your bank.
Although selecting a payments provider outside your bank seems laborious at first, the long-term benefits and ease of implementation are worth exploring new partners.
Meet the Author
David Edelen has been advising companies on integrated payment solutions since 2009. He has worked at Travelex Global Business Payments, Western Union Business Solutions, and is now part of the MasterCard team at Comdata helping companies optimize and monetize their AP process.