The $22 trillion business-to-business (B2B) US payments market is facing a paradox. High invoice volume (a business can see anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of invoices per month) and small departments that still use largely analog process are driving a desire to digitize: Enterprises using digital payables platforms can see 81% lower processing costs and 73% faster processing cycle times, per Kofax.
But accounts payable is a complex process, and entrenched habits and limited resources have stymied digitization and kept companies set in their ways.
Accounts Payable Process
In a fully analog accounts payable process, an invoice is generated and sent by a supplier. It’s then printed and walked to an approver, and the invoice data is entered. That data is then approved, a check is written, and that check is mailed back to the supplier. On the B2B side, a lack of interoperability between these steps, inefficient execution, and largely analog processes create a cycle that can take 30 to 90 days.
Automated Accounts Payable
In an automated accounts payable process, an invoice is submitted to an invoicing platform, where a buyer can capture platform data. Then it is processed and approved, all within the platform, and payment goes out to the supplier. All sides benefit from this process, as automation can cut costs by 81% and improve efficiency by 73%, per Kofax.
Accounts Payable Automation Benefits
Today, more firms are starting to seek accounts payable solutions that automate the invoicing and payments process, as they look to cut costs, decrease fraud, improve efficiency, and gain more visibility into payment data. These changes are bringing a deluge of providers — including software companies, card networks and providers, banks, and payment networks — into the ecosystem.
By moving into B2B payments, players in the space can diversify their businesses by capturing a new source of volume and attracting a new set of clients, attractive prospects as growth in digital consumer payments begins to slow.
For these providers, striking while the iron is hot and chasing the classes of businesses with the most opportunity — including small sellers, the middle market, cross-border companies, and the gig economy — will prove the top strategies in a successful pursuit of the B2B market.
In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will size the accounts payable market in the US; evaluate the breakdown between analog and digital processes at all three stages of an accounts payable transaction; and evaluate barriers toward digitization.
We will then identify four key segments where there’s particular opportunity in accounts payable and assess the value in each. Finally, we will examine four best-in-class providers serving these areas and explain why their solutions could be a blueprint for other providers entering B2B.
The companies mentioned in this report are: Bottomline Technologies, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, MineralTree, Oracle, SAP, SWIFT, Tipalti, Visa, Xerox.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- The $22 trillion US B2B payments market has been slow to digitize, with 36% of firms using paper invoicing, 47% relying on manual processes for approval, and 49% of payments made by check.
- Forty-four percent of businesses are looking to add automation to their payables processes as a way to capitalize on the efficiency and cost-cutting benefits it brings in, while also cutting fraud and increasing access to payment data.
- Large enterprises have the highest budgets for digital solutions, but they’re also the most likely to already be using them, which makes small businesses, middle-market companies, cross-border businesses, and the gig economy the ripest targets for innovation.
In full, the report:
- Explains the typical accounts payable process and identifies pain points within each stage.
- Lists the benefits of automating accounts payables and highlights friction points preventing businesses from digitizing.
- Analyzes how payments providers can best move into the space and capture a large volume share as the market is on the cusp of rapid digitization.
- Evaluates four best-in-class strategies that payments providers looking to move into payables can take to scale quickly.
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