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- January 27, 2020
- By Rajiv Ramachandran
For many organizations operating on a global scale, the payments process can bring considerable challenges and risks. With payments made to suppliers in different countries by an assortment of checks, credit cards, and bank transfers, the current processes and systems used by finance teams have led to fraudulent transactions, inaccurate payments, lost discount opportunities, and unreconciled books – resulting in operational and financial impacts to the entire organization.
This blog post delves into challenges companies face executing payments to support a global supply chain and how Coupa’s unified approach to spend management and payments is helping our customers overcome these challenges.
In today’s global marketplace, even the smallest companies operate in numerous countries. The challenges businesses are facing with global payments can be classified into three main categories:
- Inefficient manual processes to execute payments
- Lack of data integrity and reconciliation across siloed applications
- Absence of innovation to support modern forms of payments
Inefficient manual processes to execute payments
The pain of manual processes is shared by small and big companies alike. Manual payment tasks are time-consuming, high-risk, and prone to error. While many larger organizations are partly automated, integrating processes worldwide remains a big challenge, including the integration, testing, and maintenance of connections with a wide variety of banks and payment systems. Often businesses have some automation, but still end up kludging together different systems, which leads to inefficiencies, lost opportunities, poor performance, and pain for those in charge and responsible.
Lack of data integrity and reconciliation across siloed applications
Payments are associated with spend transactions that happen in an enterprise. Many enterprises have different systems to deal with purchasing, receiving, and invoicing of goods and – as a result – there is no traceability of a payment to the purchase order or the invoice it is associated with. In the B2B world, managing working capital by financing or using early pay discount is an integral part of the spend management process, yet almost every enterprise manages these transactions in separate systems. Not only are these applications separate, but so are the teams managing them and the processes they follow. This lack of data integrity and traceability is the reason why enterprises see fraudulent and inaccurate payment transactions.
Absence of innovation to support modern forms of payments
Innovations in the last decade have radically transformed the consumer payments space. Mobile payments, digital wallets, and cross-border payment solutions have made many consumer purchases frictionless. Businesses have seen the impact of this change. For example, companies that have gone global and are using suppliers in Asia are being asked to support easier and quicker models of cross-border payments.
The gig economy is transforming how work gets done in organizations today, and independent workers paid per gig are looking for faster and more modern forms of payments, like digital wallets. Employees who have become comfortable with cards and wallets on their smartphones for personal payments are now expecting the same when they are traveling for work. Businesses are left supporting these needs with decades-old infrastructure and applications that were not developed for a modern workforce and supply chain. Businesses are now – or soon will be – paying a price for it, and are scrambling to keep up.
What a reimagined B2B payment system looks like
Coupa provides a modern, comprehensive, cloud-based business spend management (BSM) platform with a unified suite of applications that allows customers to manage the purchasing, receiving, and invoicing of all goods and services they use for their business. The platform also enables customers to track their spend with their contingent workers and expenses incurred by employees for business travel.
The Coupa platform is powered on data and intelligence from the entire Coupa community, allowing customers to get deep insights into their spend, compare their performance to their peers in the industry, and take quantifiable actions to improve their spend efficiency, visibility, and compliance within the organization.
Coupa Pay is the organic payments and financing solution built on Coupa’s BSM platform which brings a seamless experience for our customers to pay and finance the spend that is managed in Coupa.
End-to-end data integrity and visibility
With the Coupa platform, customers can trace, end to end, from a requisition to a purchase order to a goods receipt to an invoice to its digital payment – all with one experience, one UI, one platform. Coupa customers can implement a working capital management strategy to offer an Early Payment Discount solution to suppliers, and they can do so with the same integrated platform. This makes the process seamless for themselves and for their suppliers who are already engaging on Coupa with purchasing and invoicing processes.
With well-defined roles, permissions, and privileges, the platform provides the required controls to ensure that only the right users with the right permissions can perform sensitive actions like creating a payment account or releasing a batch. A separate set of highly privileged users are the only ones able to determine who in the organization can perform such sensitive actions. These control structures, user experiences, business processes, and data structures – all enabled in a unified and intelligent application suite – ensure that customers have end-to-end traceability and visibility of transactions with Coupa.
Open and automated platform
Coupa Pay enables customers to take advantage of every payment rail with a single platform and a single interface, spanning domestic bank transfers, cross-border payments, virtual cards, and digital checks. The Coupa Pay application has been architected to allow customers to batch, release, and approve their payments across all payment rails and to initiate payments from any bank account or card account that they have with their treasury banks. With a single secure control point in Coupa Pay, customers can release payments from banks worldwide without having to log in to each of their bank portals or card payment applications. Coupa’s automated capabilities facilitate integration with both the company’s banks to pull funds from, and with the general ledger system for automated payment and charge data reconciliation.
Coupa also gives customers the ability to collect and manage their supplier information. Coupa’s open and automated platform now allows both buyers and suppliers to interact on supplier information, electronic document exchange (purchase order and invoice), digital payments, and working capital management – all in one unified experience.
Innovation that streamlines B2B Payments
With Coupa Pay we have taken a different approach to execute payments on existing payment rails to bring process improvements, cost efficiencies, and increased visibility to our customers. At the same time, we are exposing modern payment rails within the same experiences to support today’s digital way of doing business. For example:
- Unified account access and funding – Within a single batch, a customer can batch domestic, cross-border, check, and virtual card payments, and can pay from any number of source accounts without having to log in to any single funding account.
- Ability to make cross-border payments – Pay to 180+ countries as a local transfer with no wire fees to you or your supplier. You authorize payments to be drawn from your local currency in a country bank account (GBP account in the UK or EURO account in Germany or USD account in the US) and Coupa manages the end-to-end funds flow, doing it faster, cheaper, and with immediate visibility into where funds are.
- Manage multiple virtual card providers with a single control model – Global customers typically have multiple banking relationships across the world. For example, they use JPMorgan Chase in the US, Barclaycard for Europe, and Citi in Asia. Coupa provides one single experience to manage your virtual cards, charges, and statement reports across these banks worldwide, with full reconciliation of these in your accounting system. This entire integrated and seamless model with these global banks has been built completely within Coupa Pay without the customer needing to integrate with individual banks.
- The ability to send a truly digital check – For US customers dealing with paper checks, Coupa enables you to send a truly digital check (you don’t need to know the bank account details of the supplier) over email, and suppliers, after secure authentication with the Coupa supplier portal, can take a picture of this check and deposit it via a mobile app to their bank account, like we are all used to in our personal lives. This model not only leads to the elimination of inefficient and error-prone paper check processes, it also helps buyers drive key sustainability goals within their organization.
- Make supplier payments to digital wallets like PayPal – With Coupa you can pay to digital wallets just as easily as making payments to suppliers’ bank accounts, and this allows for real-time money movement. Coupa gives your suppliers the ability to connect their payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe to the Coupa Supplier Portal to allow for automated end-to-end payments.
Transforming the payment experience.
To deliver a truly unified payment solution to its customers, Coupa has streamlined every aspect of the payment experience from business process to user engagement to security to data and compliance. Coupa Pay enables customers to manage all their spend, its financing, and payments from one unified platform, delivering significant benefits with measurable value.
Coupa makes domestic and cross-border payments efficient and easy, enables you to maximize returns from working capital solutions, and delivers automated payment reconciliation with end-to-end data visibility. All in all, Coupa Pay delivers a simplified and modern experience for B2B payments.
Learn more about how to Spend Smarter with Coupa’s Business Spend Management Platform.
Rajiv Ramachandran is Vice President, Product Strategy & Management, Coupa Pay at Coupa Software. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from National Institute of Technology in India and an MBA from UCLA. Rajiv resides in the San Francisco bay area.