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How accelerating payments could power deeper insights and better decision making

Sulabh Agarwal

With so much potential for significant change, we look at how businesses are keeping up-to-speed with new technologies and innovations that could be critical to success for finance departments.

Sulabh Agarwal, Managing Director, Head of Payments and Card Practice, Accenture UK & Ireland, discusses the role of faster payments in the finance’s future.  

The need for immediate action

New finance innovations are propelling businesses towards a future where real-time interactions could be standard practice. If organisations are to keep up, it’s essential they act now to build the right operational practices and systems.

Making payments faster is part of that. Sulabh notes “Transactions can’t slow things down.”

As a result, the whole payment landscape for business is undergoing significant change as speed becomes fundamental. “Businesses need to think about their new five-year plan,” says Sulabh.

“Are businesses already building applications for speed? Are they thinking about future standards of data and how they will utilise the enriched data that comes through transactions?”

Sulabh Agarwal

Integrating new technologies

The first step for many finance departments lies in automation tools. “If you’re moving to a world where things are fast-moving, you cannot rely on manual processes, especially when transactions flow in real time. Your back-end processes will need to be electronic and automated,” Sulabh says.

“Are businesses building applications for speed?”

Virtual card solutions, such as Precisionpay, can help finance departments meet some of the short-term challenges, giving them some immediate benefits as they plan for the future. “Virtual cards are a concept that’s here to stay; they remove the hassle of manual instructions or cheques and therefore have a lot of potential. I can see usage going up significantly,” says Sulabh.

He believes one strength of the technology will be in tail-spend management, especially as larger businesses integrate it into their established procure-to-pay systems.

Benefits of real-time payments

For finance departments in businesses of all sizes, however, real-time payment dynamics offer new opportunities. These include visibility, the option to manage cash flow dynamically, and more certainty when decision-making.

“Through the click of a button, finance departments can see if a payment has come in or not, or what is scheduled to come in. They could decide to manage payment to be just-in-time, for example,” says Sulabh.

“Virtual cards are a concept that’s here to stay.”

The ability to understand cash positions throughout the course of a day or month means a business can better assess its borrowing and investment needs. Data-rich information from the point of transaction will provide further insight. “This means they can make decisions more quickly. They’ll also worry less about whether they have the right data,” says Sulabh.

Ultimately, making payments in real time will give financial departments an edge. Equipped with more accurate and real-time information, Sulabh believes they will expand their strategic influence in the business overall. “They will have so much more insight and knowledge than they could from a paper-based process,” he notes. “And if they can put in place tools to centralise the data and available insight, they’re going to be making much more effective decisions more quickly.”

Create value from your everyday business payments

At Barclaycard, our payment experts work with you to unlock the smartest payment strategy for your business. To find out how much money your finance department could generate to your bottom line, fill out our simple form and a member of the team will be in touch. Or, you can give us a call on 0800 151 2586, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

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