Thorough checks are required when selecting a third party tech provider of any system – not least when a bank looks to incorporate a new payment infrastructure.
The payments ecosystem in the US has become increasingly complex. Many business to business transactions are still made in cheques, while technological advances have led organisations to embrace new ways to make payments. The result – for all businesses – is the need to provide for a variety of payment methods.
Recently, US-based TD Bank announced it would be partnering with Bottomline Technologies to utilise the software provider’s Paymode-X platform to help the bank’s corporate clients get over that very hurdle. Here, bobsguide spoke with Rick Burke, head of corporate products & services at TD Bank, and Jessica Moran, general manager, Paymode-X Business Solutions at Bottomline, to find out more about the selection process, and the ongoing relationship.
BG: Why Bottomline, and why Paymode-X?
TD's Burke: We evaluate and look for opportunities in the market to provide new capabilities to our commercial customers, and we were introduced to some of the people at Bottomline and had a conversation over a period of time related to the Paymode-X opportunity and what it might be able to do for some of our customers.
And what made Paymode-X stand out?
Burke: As a provider and trusted advisor we’re trying to help our customers make things a little easier. The corporate treasury office has become an incredibly complex place over the past couple of decades: it seems like as more and more comes in, there’s less staff and more strategic partnerships with the company, and with its leaders and whatnot. Payments are incredibly important for every business, but very few of our customers are in the business of finance and so anything that we can do to try to help them leverage technology or find new ways with their process to make life a little easier it gives them bandwidth to do the really important job of strategically running their organisation. We’re always on the hunt for things that will do that.
In this particular case, one of the big challenges that still remains in the commercial banking world for an awful lot of people is the migration from and reduction in – if not the complete elimination of – the amount of paper in the payments space. There’s still a lot of cheques being written in the US on a business to business basis, and we've been looking for opportunities to make that migration a little bit easier where a client wants to make it. One of the complexities in that process is when a company looks at its vendors and who it needs to pay, if it wants to move to electronic payments there’s often a long conversation to be had with each and every vendor to try to figure out how that’s going to work – what method of payment to use, how the terms are going to be modified etc.
One of the biggest benefits of what Bottomline and PayMode-X bring to the table is their network of customers who have established their expectations. So when our customers say ‘hey here’s a hundred vendors’ we can find some measurable portion of those vendors in that network. They’ve already worked out that this is how they want to be paid, the payment type, and the terms. It just makes it so much easier to conduct that migration.
Bottomline's Moran: We’re looking to solve integrated payables for our banking clients. In the US more than 63% of businesses are making more than half of their B2B payments with paper cheque. When you look at solving that cheque stack – how to reduce it and automate that process, how to reduce fraud, how to drive efficiencies into that lifecycle – finding a partner that has an established network can be crucial. In the case of Paymode-X we have a network of more than 385,000 businesses, so when a bank brings its customers onto Paymode-X a large portion of the vendors they’re doing business with are already with us.
So those organisations – those clients of TD Bank – will have immediate results from that established network. For the vendors that aren’t on the network we offer full service solutions to work with them to bring them into the network and drive additional automation results.
BG: Other than the network benefits, what other USPs does Paymode-X bring to the table?
Moran: It’s a full service, integrated payment solution so we’re able to provide for all payment types – we have ACH, card capabilities through Visa and Mastercard and cheques so we’re able to fulfil a lot of requirements. We have that established network of validated vendors so we’re really able to help reduce fraud for companies who can count on the fact that they’re sending payment instructions through Paymode-X, through TD Bank, and it’s getting to where it should be every time.
Burke: It’s good to note the fact that Paymode-X covers cheque payments. Within the integrated payments environment we’re providing customers with the opportunity to use effectively one payment method to get all payment types accomplished. It’s desirable – but not likely – that you’re going to be able to in one swoop to migrate 100% of your payment activity to electronic types. But allowing for the elimination of all of these different processes in organisations that are payment world specific: a process for ACH, a process for cards, and a process for wires – and turn that into one single operating flow, although there may still be some cheques to come out of that and often there is a bare minimum of them do at the outset, it’s still better than before because now you’re dealing with one process.
Also Paymode-X is a self-sustaining and self-improving network. We don’t necessarily view providing a capability like this as a competitive advantage, we’re looking for a time in which the process can be made much easier because there’s far fewer cheques in the entire system. So TD Bank and its customers are benefiting from the work done by other customers of the Paymode-X solution.