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Posted December 18, 2020

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We’re seeing a huge increase in businesses globally upgrading and modernizing their payments platforms in response to the enhanced digital disruption experienced through 2020, as a result of the pandemic. There is now an emerging need to show performance in real-time, as more and more banks and customers are looking for nimble and secure platforms that can be agile enough to move, grow and change with them. 

It’s actually shown that there’s been real momentum in B2B digitisation over the last 12 months. Now, while we have seen a significant amount of payment innovations in the consumer world, with systems like contactless and ApplePay, B2B was yet to embrace the simplicity of making digital payments and using a device in the same way – until now.

Today there are huge investments in the untapped and untouched area of digital B2B payments. People have finally caught on that there are trillions of dollars that can be digitised and now is the time to take advantage and make an impact. There has been a huge increase in demand in 2020, in particular with the pandemic, reinforcing that back-end, manual processes are no longer viable due to behaviors such as working from home, and we need to look at new technologies to help automate archaic processes. This is true particularly in times of crisis where the relationships between buyer and supplier are under increased focus and require higher levels of trust to be efficient. 

In fact, it is digital agility that provided many businesses with the resilience they needed to stay afloat during the pandemic. A new survey, commissioned by WEX in collaboration with The Economist Group, found that 72 percent of executives in financial services and technology are more digitally agile than before the pandemic and 83 percent have leveraged payment technology to innovate new sources of business value. It also found 39 percent had thought about implementing new technologies including data analytics, while 42 percent thought about modernizing technology platforms and infrastructure for customers. The results show there is a clear new direction in the marketplace, one in which executives are reviewing their workflows and supply chains and ultimately looking for a digital first approach. 

This research reveals how payments innovation positions finance and tech business for growth, revealing commercial businesses are having to implement data led solutions. There are four driving factors key to curating this interest in digital transformation:

    1. Improving business efficiencies
    2. Greater working capital
    3. Revenue
    4. The rise of cloud-based solutions

What a Cloud-Based Solution Can Mean for your Business

New findings from Synergy Research Group have revealed that cloud spending is up and has not been hampered by the ongoing COVID crisis. Q1 2020 spend on cloud infrastructure services reached $29bn, up 37 percent over the same time last year. Despite the inevitable economic downturn in the wake of the pandemic, cloud spending is estimated to rise 19% according to Gartner.

During the pandemic, using cloud-based solutions helped businesses offer thousands of refunds in a timely manner, particularly those in industries impacted by the ongoing nature of partial lockdowns.

The agility and speed of a cloud-based solution is critical to scale up or down. Our own cloud-based processor has achieved an uptime of 99.99%, resulting in an always-on processor for our customers. The speed by which we’re able to start processing transactions has increased substantially – we can set up new accounts within hours now, where this used to be a few days.

Being in the cloud and working with Amazon Web Services has helped us as a business become more effective. In fact, it’s one of the greatest things we’ve done, and our customers recognise the value too. A cloud offering can improve:

  • Resilience
  • Uptime 
  • Agility and speed
  • Innovation space
  • Cost

So, what have we learned from the pandemic and how do we embrace this new era and digital tipping point?

Key Takeaways

  • More choice and flexibility: More and more businesses have recognized that a new normal is here. As a result, they want more flexibility on payments so they can work with more suppliers around the globe.
  • Better technology: Rather than reducing investment, if not already done, now is the time for businesses to upgrade and streamline their technology and payment platforms to futureproof themselves post-pandemic. A cloud-based solution offers better resilience and faster innovation in the long run.
  • Fully Integrated Payables Platforms: Building bridges between accounts payables (AP) platforms and receivables (AR) platforms adds value and right now, we at WEX are working on elements on the AP/AR connection. Doing so will not only help streamline operations but will add value for firms – unlocking efficiencies and allowing them to focus on their core business
  • Market Expertise: We know businesses are also looking for much more than just a payments and technology provider – the expertise of their partner and its unique understanding of unique market challenges will be crucial to help stand out from the crowd.

 

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Anant Patel

Anant heads up our EMEA and APAC corporate payments operations and is based out of our London office. Anant joined WEX in 2018, bringing over 17 years of leadership experience in the payments industry with businesses such as Mastercard International and First Performance Global. Anant is focused on enhancing our international efforts and scaling our business across EMEA and APAC.


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