5 Payment Pain Points and How to Solve Them

Gene Cook
Gene Cook
Senior Director, Coupa Pay Alliance Partners

Gene has been an integral part to the success of the Coupa Pay alliances built and developed while at Coupa for the past year and a half. Developing the go-to-market strategy and success of these partnerships, all while delivering unsurpassed client value, is what Gene thinks about every single day. Prior to that, Gene ran the major bank alliances at SAP Concur for several years. Gene and his family reside in beautiful Upstate New York.

Read time: 5 mins
5 Payment Pain Points and How to Solve Them

Inefficiency, lack of spend optimization, and out-of-policy spend and compliance negatively impact payment processes. With these challenges, how do you get the most value out of payments? Pain points within these three areas of business spending were the topic of a recent webinar my colleague, J.R. Roberston, hosted alongside Nathan Bhatt, Vice President of Product Management and Strategy at American Express.

Below, see 5 of the payment pain points discussed on the webinar and learn how Business Spend Management and integrated virtual Card payments can help you get more value out of your payment processes.

Webinar Recap: 5 Payment Pain Points

1. Manual accounts payable processes

Manual data entry is one area of AP inefficiency many businesses would like to address. But where to start? There are several “small victories” that can add up to make a big difference for your AP department. This can look like: reducing the number of paper invoices, finding automated ways of coding expenses, or streamlining reconciliation of transactions.

2. Lack of visibility into spend

“Lack of visibility [into business spending] makes planning and forecasting more difficult,” said Bhatt. “If you can’t see where you are and how you’re doing, then it’s hard to know where you want to go.” This issue pops up in different areas, whether it’s spend optimization, contracts, or supplier relationships. “What we’ve been hearing from our customers is spend happens in a lot of different places and so the only way to get visibility is to consolidate,” said Robertson. Start by having a program and a technology plan to consolidate all of your spend information and activities on a single digital platform, accessible to all stakeholders.

3. Compliance

Companies want to monitor employee business spending to ensure purchases are compliant with the organization’s policy. Furthermore, being able to pay suppliers on time in a virtual environment is important to customers. Implementing the use of a more streamlined payment processing system, through which eligible transactions can be reviewed and approved as well as backed by documentation such as purchase orders and invoices, can help companies act compliantly.

4. Simplifying Digital Payments

Historically, digital payment processes were often complex and disjointed. Virtual cards are helping to simplify digital payments. In short, a virtual card is an integrated digital payment device which, in connection with a random 15-digit number known as a ‘token,’ is utilized to process payments. The integrated virtual Card solution provided by Coupa and American Express allows the buyer to set controls over qualities like time and transaction limits. These features can help protect against misuse. “These controls can also help improve tracking, accounting, and reconciliation processes,” said Bhatt. “Each token should be matched back to a specific invoice, a PO, or an expense.”

5. Making Payments More Flexible

Giving buyers more flexibility in how they pay suppliers can have a positive impact on working capital management and supplier relationships. With a comprehensive Business Spend Management (BSM) approach and the employment of integrated virtual Card payments, there are three ways for customers to pay suppliers: pay on invoice, pay on order, and request a card. Let’s examine each.

Clients can elect to pay on invoice. In this model, once the buyer approves an invoice, a supplier receives a virtual Card that can be processed just like a credit card. There’s no need to deposit checks or wait for a check to clear. Funds can be accessed immediately.

Coupa’s Business Spend Management Benchmark Report found that for best-in-class companies (top 25% of companies on the Coupa BSM platform), 85% of all invoices are processed electronically, and that these invoices have a first-time match rate of almost 90%.**

It is also important to be able to pay on order. “We’ve learned that no supplier is created equal,” said Robertson. “You have to provide optionality on card.” Pay on order provides flexibility and efficiency. An organization can still get pre-approval on spend and have the option to see charge a transaction against a particular purchase order. When the PO is approved, the supplier receives the virtual Card along with the PO. “This is a huge benefit to our customers and suppliers,” said Robertson.

While some businesses are moving away from physical cards, it seems that others haven’t fully embraced the use of virtual card payments. Based on that, the request-a-card option was developed to help provide both control and visibility over spending. “This helps manage the change from a physical card to a virtual card world,” said Robertson. Request-a-card could be a good fit for companies who know they’re only going to use a particular supplier a few times and don’t want to go through the onboarding process.

Payments Success with Coupa & American Express

Coupa and American Express have partnered to provide customers with a virtual Card payment solution that is helping companies further their BSM strategies to spend and pay smarter. Integrated virtual Card payments are the result of a years-long effort by Coupa to help customers address issues related to accounts payable, procurement, invoicing, and expense management processes.

Learn about real world use cases and the value customers obtained.

Watch the recording

Every business has pain points. What are yours? Maybe it's inefficiency around data entry or an overly complicated payment processing system. Coupa and American Express can help find a digital payments solution for your business. Take the first step by viewing the on-demand webinar.

To pay a supplier within the Coupa platform, the supplier must be an American Express accepting merchant on the Coupa supplier network and agree to accept American Express virtual Card payments.


** The 2020 Business Spend Management Benchmark Report. Coupa Software Inc., 2020.