Nick Corrigan, UK&I Managing Director & President, Global Payments
Last month, my favourite local pub switched to offering only delivery of food, beers and craft beers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through two world wars, Britain’s pubs stayed open, but have now been forced to evaluate, and drastically change, their business models — a true indication of the unprecedented times we’re living in.
Like the pubs in Britain, many other merchants and retailers are also facing similar difficulties, particularly those primarily focused on face-to-face business. These businesses are not alone, and amidst these uncertain times, there are ways in which businesses can continue driving forward.
Understanding the terminology
It’s important to start by first understanding the different types of payment terminology in order to navigate which types are the best way to connect with customers during this challenging time.
Card present payments are those where the physical card — or device in the case of mobile wallet payments — is presented in person by inserting a card into a terminal or ‘tapping’ a card, watch or phone for contactless payments. Previously, in some cases, customers regularly signed a receipt or pin pad during checkout. Now, however, many customers and employees no longer want to touch a keypad, pen or stylus to provide those signatures.
Card not present payments are those where the physical card or device is not present in person, but instead, the card data is transmitted and processed digitally through other means, like when your customer enters a card number in a payment form online. In this social distancing landscape, many businesses realise that to keep their employees and consumers safe, they need to start, or increase the use of, card not present transactions.
Commerce channels are the mediums in which commerce can happen. For example: ecommerce (online and in app or browser via mobile phone), face-to-face, over the phone or social selling. With limits and restrictions on face-to-face channels, businesses are utilising, or switching quickly, to these other commerce channels.
Explore these 5 ways to accept payments during COVID-19
More and more, people are confined to their homes because of stay-at-home orders around the world. So, if businesses are already accepting payments online, now is a great time to ramp up. For those that aren’t, this is the optimal time to start. Part of online payments strategies can include reaching customers, and delivering products, through social networks.
To establish and set up an online presence, two things typically need to be done: build an ecommerce website from scratch, or utilise a 3rd-party software, commonly referred to as a shopping cart. Building an ecommerce site from the ground up is, of course, a much larger undertaking in terms of time, money and technical capability. Conversely, the use of a shopping cart lends itself to faster and easier implementation.
There are benefits to each option, which can be explored with payments partners, but in either scenario, any online payments solution needs to come equipped with robust fraud prevention capabilities and strong data security features to lower potential risk and better protect the business.
There are a few different ways to take orders over the phone to reduce or eliminate physical interaction with customers. The easiest and most cost-effective is with existing points of sale. Many point of sale solutions can be utilised to process phone payments.
And although credit card payments over the phone are not a new concept, there is still some unease due to the risk that the person on the other end of the line is not the cardholder or an authorised user of the card. However, tools like Address Verification and CVV Codes can help minimise fraud when in-person payments are not possible.
If businesses are looking for a card not present payment type that offers the convenience of paying over the phone, but with another layer of security, a pay-by-link solution could be an option. Pay-by-link technology allows the merchant to send a customer a secure payment link while on the phone to ultimately provide them with an ecommerce checkout experience.
Additionally, there are other payment solutions like virtual terminals that facilitate phone payments. With a virtual terminal, businesses can easily authorise, process and manage card payments in real time. Through this technology, they can retain payment details for one-off or regular future transactions and issue refunds from a secure, hosted payment page in their browser.
In-app and in-browser mobile wallet payments
For those already accepting online payments, the customers’ experience can be enhanced with online mobile wallet payments. In fact, many of today’s consumers are comfortable with – and even prefer – using mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
These types of payments offer a safe, secure and convenient way for customers to pay online or via mobile technology. Through this payment type, conversion rates can be increased and abandoned shopping carts eliminated by allowing customers to check out seamlessly without needing to enter payment, delivery or contact information after their first purchase.
Have a need to offer recurring payments service to customers? Credential-on-file payments allows a merchant to store customer credit card details on file for repeat online payments. This technology saves valid cardholder details in a secure vault and enables them to automatically schedule payments to reduce manual workload and enhance the customers’ payment experience.
When looking for a credential-on-file payment solution, it must provide the security and flexibility needed to protect the business and improve the customer experience. For example, look for options that offer strong fraud prevention, card management and tokenisation capabilities.
During this pandemic, people are looking for fast, easy and efficient ways to exchange funds in a business-to-business setting. For businesses that use invoicing as a form of payment collection, digital accounts payable solutions are a viable option to streamline the payment process and eliminate the physical need for invoices and cheques.
Through these “virtual invoices,” payments can be accepted instantly and electronically, without dealing with the physical limitations of traditional invoicing. When evaluating an electronic invoicing solution, businesses must look for those that have the technology to truly automates the invoicing process to reap the full benefits of this payment type.
As businesses continue to navigate today’s uncharted waters, innovative payments methods will be at the heart of ensuring they can continue serving and staying connected to customers.
THE OUTPERFORMER’S APPROACH TO FINANCIAL PROCESS AUTOMATION
By Michelle Trapani, Director of Product Marketing at Kofax
Achieving more with less is the mantra of our times. C-suite leaders demand greater efficiency. CFOs are looking to reduce costs. Customers and employees expect stellar experiences. The ability to outperform these expectations hinges on your financial operations, a vital area impacting every facet of your business.
For instance, if vital master data is incorrect, it’ll have a negative impact on service level quality, as well as the reputations of the finance and purchasing departments. Without accurate and timely visibility into processes, transparency is reduced, and it’s more difficult and time-consuming to manage compliance. The combination makes it harder to please executives, CFOs, customers, and vendors.
That’s why financial process automation is the key to operational efficiency and the overall success of your business. Even small- and medium-sized businesses are investing in process automation to optimise the financial processes within enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, such as SAP.
For many, accounts payable is the first financial process to be automated. Like many other financial areas, Accounts Payable (AP) is mired in paper and consumed by highly manual tasks. For these reasons, once AP is automated, the benefits become quickly apparent, leading firms to immediately consider which other financial processes they can optimise. However, outperformers know the approach that yields the greatest return is automation of the entire purchase-to-pay process chain.
Why? Let’s consider what benefits can be gained from automating document-driven and transactional processes tied to an SAP ERP system – in AP and beyond.
Why a high-level of automation is an advantage
We don’t have to look far to see how end-to-end automation eliminates labour-intensive work, reduces costs, and increases process efficiency. Organisations with high levels of automation provide indisputable proof of the advantages of the outperformers’ approach.
According to research by Shared Services Link and Kofax, just 12 percent of organisations with high levels of automation manually process their invoices compared to 74 percent of those with low levels of automation. In addition, only 41 percent of highly automated companies experience problems with purchase orders, 24 percent have poor visibility into spend, and 8 percent fail to capture early payment discounts. By comparison, those with low-level automation report these same problems significantly more often: 68 percent, 23 percent, and 24 percent, respectively.
In an age when process automation has become table stakes, there are clear advantages for organisations that optimise processes across the business. “Best-in-class” firms – those with high levels of automation – don’t only become more competitive, they save time and resources as well.
Comparing “best-in-class” organisations to others illustrates the sharp differences. According to Ardent Partners, a “best-in-class” organisation processes 57.1 percent of all invoices “straight-through,” in just 3.9 days at an all-inclusive cost of $2.87 per invoice. By contrast, the gap with other organisations – those with low levels of automation – is wide: Only 16.1 percent of invoices are processed straight-through, and a single invoice takes 17.1 days to close and costs $15.38. Further, “best-in-class” organisations experience 81 percent lower invoice processing costs and 77 percent faster invoice processing cycle times.
Why ERP optimisation?
Another reason to follow the outperformers’ approach is to increase the return on investment of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Many organisations haven’t fully leveraged their investments in ERP software, like SAP, giving them plenty of hidden opportunities to exploit.
“ERPs are not optimised for all the complex activities occurring today, such as matching printed or electronic invoices with supplier master data, purchase orders, shipping, tax and discount data,” says consultancy The Hackett Group. “Since it can be cost-prohibitive to replace a legacy ERP, companies often augment them instead with document management systems.”
When processes are paper-driven and manual, financial teams struggle to meet the volume-based performance requirements set by their CFOs. Meeting the high bar for raw numbers of invoices and payments processed is exceedingly difficult without automation. Think back to the pain points listed above. Every time the process is interrupted because the PO number is wrong, there’s an invoice exception or an early pay discount is missed, the process slows appreciably – or breaks down entirely.
One option is to use a certified add-on solution providing a single software platform to automate a series of processes directly within the ERP system. For SAP users, this type of solution offers more than integration with the ERP system; it provides the exact same look and feel as any other SAP transaction. It can be presented inside of the SAP GUI, providing non-SAP users an intuitive interface, and offering a real-time view of workloads, pending tasks, document inflow, ongoing transactions, and up-to-the-moment validation against SAP data. Solutions like this are proven to help users become more cost efficient, improve control over financial processes and shorten total processing times.
How to dominate your financial process
As the examples above show, expanding process improvement from AP to the entire purchase-to-pay process chain allows you dominate your financial processes in SAP, realise maximum efficiency and take your current ROI to the next level. Whether you’re just starting your automation journey or want to expand past AP, a full-scale strategy for end-to-end financial process automation will enable you to begin working like tomorrow, today.
About the author
In her role as Director of Product Marketing, Michelle Trapani delivers market positioning, strategic narratives and go-to-market strategies driving awareness, preference, and growth – bringing an increased level of insight, leadership, and overall execution discipline to Kofax’s growing business. Michelle was most recently with Cinch Connectivity Solutions where she reduced product launch times from eight months to eight-12 weeks. Previously, Michelle was with Adobe, Equinix, IBM, Infogix, iPass, Macrovision and Vision Solutions. Michelle earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Illinois State University.
SAFEGUARD YOURSELF FROM FINANCIAL STRUGGLE AND UNCERTAINTY IN THE CASE OF DEMENTIA
Despite the rising incidence of dementia globally – The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates one new case every three seconds – and the risk of losing mental capacity in old age, few individuals plan for this possibility.
Dementia is caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities. The WHO estimates the number of people living with dementia worldwide will almost triple to 152 million by 2050.
September is Alzheimer’s awareness month, an international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds the illness. Financial management is one of the first tasks which deteriorate with the condition, leaving people struggling to do simple tasks such as paying bills or managing their tax affairs.
“Most people don’t like to think about death, dying or incapacity,” says Mark Hawes, certified financial planner at Alexander Forbes. Figures from the Masters of High Courts back up this assertion, revealing that more than 80% of South Africa’s working population don’t have wills.
“If you have been diagnosed with dementia, the best way to avoid unnecessary financial burden or being taken advantage of financially, or otherwise, is to put plans in place immediately. If one day you are not able to look after yourself, you and your family should know who these responsibilities will fall to.”
Most types of dementia are progressive. Therefore, the earlier it is identified the better. In addition, the easier it is to put the necessary preparations in place. Very importantly, while our faculties are still with us we can and should be involved in the important decisions for our own future.
At the very least, it is time to ensure that your wishes are documented, understood and are willing to be carried out by all involved. Naturally the inverse is true. For the caregivers and the persons tasked with the respective areas of responsibility, making sure that you understand and are willing to carry out the wishes of the affected person (within reason) is paramount in the early days of diagnosis.
“It is therefore important to allocate someone you trust with different areas of your life. Consider your options and where you have existing policies in place, double-check what you are covered for.”
Putting your plan in place simply gets everyone pulling in the same direction. Do this for at least three areas with the help of a trusted professional:
- Set up or review your will
To ensure that this is done accurately, you need to be fully informed about what assets and other financial products you have. Importantly, remember that all retirement funds fall outside your estate and so beneficiaries should be nominated on each retirement fund respectively. In addition, bring in your trusted and professional financial adviser to make sure your legacy planning is effective, efficient and accurate to ensure that your wishes and priorities are met.
- Choose your healthcare professionals and caregivers
Understanding the expected treatment and what your lifestyle may look like in the years to come will provide insight into what facilities and care you may require. This information puts a sense of control and independence back in the affected person’s hands. It will create a great sense of comfort that the challenging journey ahead will be manageable and on your own terms. Of course, it is always recommended to include your loved ones when making the decisions – especially the ones who are expected to carry out your wishes, if only to understand if they have the capacity to do so. The cost of care for those with advanced dementia should also be factored in, as full-time nursing can be expensive. Knowing your expected care and the respective costs puts you back in control.
You can then compare your requirements with any existing insurance policies to see where you can provide the financial resources. Importantly, as cash flow may come under pressure for you and your family, you would also be able to see which policies are no longer a priority and can be cancelled. In addition, you will be able to allocate your savings and investments toward your expected expenses or make alternative arrangements with the people in your support structure – especially your family where available.
- Who will conduct your financial transactions on your behalf?
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen increased reports of fraudsters targeting unsuspecting and vulnerable people. Those with dementia who are already struggling to use ATMs or do internet or telephone banking may be more prone to being targeted or simply telling strangers their bank details. Now more than ever identity theft is a real concern.
It is therefore highly recommended that a trusted and responsible person or family member is appointed to conduct financial transactions on behalf of the affected. For high net worth people, a special trust can be set up and preferred trustees (along with an independent professional trustee) appointed to ensure the financial affairs and assets are managed effectively. Again, legacy planning is crucial to helping the affected person to rest easy.
Many people are unaware that a power of attorney is invalid if a person is no longer of sound mind, and financial institutions will not assist until the person is placed under administration or curatorship.
Therefore, it is important that this person is aware of your lifestyle and preferences. This can be simply from what groceries you buy to which financial institutions and structures your make use of. The latter should be considered together with your trusted professional’s financial adviser.
Hawes says it is important to know what policies one has and what they cover. “You need savings to cover your cost of living when you’re alive and no longer working. Understand your medical aid and what they will cover – at minimal, you should have a hospital plan and gap cover.”
Hawes also advises introducing your trusted confidant to your certified financial planner, in the event that something happens.
“Many people only bother to find out their family history after something happens to them. Find out if you have a history of cancer or heart conditions, Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family. By having these difficult discussions now, a person is better able to decide how their money should be used, and is less likely to be financially exploited at a later stage.”
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