Flint Lane

Billtrust could see a future of automated payments

Credit BIlltrust with seeing where bills and payments were headed at the turn of the century, Flint Lane said.

Mr. Lane is the CEO of the provider of automated PCM and accounts receivable solutions.

“Sixteen years ago we were founded on the idea that the world was moving to electronic bills and payments,” Mr. Lane said.

Fast forward to 2017 and paper is still a problem for many companies, he added. Many don’t know how to make the electronic shift, so Billtrust helps by providing an end-to-end solution that transforms how companies participate.

Flint Lane

A few industry shifts played key roles, Mr. Lane said. Many businesses recognized problems with systems but they solved these problems internally, not realizing their supplier network faced the same issues. The first seismic shift was understanding the benefits of one solution for an area like payroll.

The next move was the creation of accounts payable networks, Mr. Lane said. Those systems could receive invoices in a much more efficient manner, but they ended kicking the can down the road to accounts receivable where more manual processes resumed.

The latest innovation is the advent of virtual credit cards, which simplify B2B payments, Mr. Lane said. Now that accounts payable have been automated, the focus shifts to saving money. Early efforts involved issuing a one-time credit card that companies paid bills with.

“It was great for accounts payable but not for accounts receivable,” Mr.Lane explained. “They get an email with a one-time use that they had to manually handle. Customers were getting 10,000 emails to deal with.”

Virtual card capture solves that problem, making it easier for companies to receive credit card payments, Mr. Lane said. Billtrust advanced this by partnering with Visa to integrate the credit card company’s Straight Through Processing capabilities with their Virtual Card Capture service to automate and streamline the receipt and reconciliation of issuer virtual commercial card payments.

Straight Through Processing allows a buyer to initiate a Visa commercial credit transaction from their ERP or accounting solution. Using Billtrust’s Virtual Card Capture, payments sent to Billtrust suppliers are sent to Billtrust for processing, with the funds deposited into the supplier’s bank on the next business day. The remittance is consolidated across payment sources and matched to any open invoices in ERP.

Yet only a fraction of most company’s customers opt in, limiting the benefits of electronic invoice and presentation programs (EIPP), Mr. Lane said. To increase adoption companies can begin with online campaigns including emails and web messaging. Consider bill and phone messages announcing a contest with prizes for those opting in.

Suppliers see the benefits of an increasingly automated process and Billtrust automatically submits every virtual card payment routed through them for Level II/Level III processing, giving suppliers the confidence that each transaction is qualifying for the best possible interchange rate.

“We work for the supplier – that is our customer,” Mr. Lane said.

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