2016 OUTLOOK: COMMERCIAL

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1 December OUTLOOK: COMMERCIAL AND ENTERPRISE PAYMENTS Data and mobility will provide transformative platforms for commercial payments. Over the past years, commercial payments lagged the consumer payments sector in innovations largely because of the complexity of corporate systems and lengthy adoption periods. This reality appears to be changing and in very interesting ways. Investment has significantly increased in innovation focused on the pain points unique to commercial payments. Recent announcements and collaborations may be the spark needed to make 2016 a year of true change. by Richard A. Hall, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service 8 Clock Tower Place, Suite 420 Maynard, MA phone: 1(781) Mercator Advisory Group, Inc. 1

2 Developments Anticipated in Four Key Aspects of Commercial Payments in 2016 Stakeholders in the commercial and enterprise payments sector have long awaited realization of promised changes in the way payments are initiated, invoices managed, and reconciliation and reporting automated. For example, the roll-out of procure-to-pay solutions was a key topic in our Outlook on the commercial payment sector last year, but 12 months later we are still awaiting proof points that will reveal whether these solutions are ready for prime time or just another step along the road to more efficient solutions. The reason many solutions initiatives have failed to realize their promise is that providers underestimated the challenge presented by the complex systems and organizational structures in middle-market and large corporate payments. The myriad inefficiencies existent in the corporate systems cause providers of new solutions to overreach and cause implementation to become long and expensive. And since commercial payment processes are human capital intensive, changes can be actuated only if they include ways to better leverage that human capital within the company. Mercator Advisory Group expects improvements in the landscape for commercial payments in 2016 because innovators are providing value propositions that will resonate with middle-market and large corporations. As an accounts payable head of a Fortune 500 company said, It isn t as though we have changed what we are asking for our problems are the same or worse it just seems as though our bankers and technology vendors have now decided to listen. Mercator s Commercial and Enterprise Advisory Service anticipates developments that will improve the landscape of commercial payments in four key areas: (1) technology, (2) big data, (3) commercial payments and relationship management, and (4) digitizing corporate connectivity, as discussed in the following pages. Technology Procure-to-Pay As we observed in our Outlook for 2015, the announcements of joint ventures in the procure-to-pay space held much promise. Solutions such as AribaPay and Basware provided a solid foundation for the transformation of an integrated offering with payments at the hub. These solutions are still evolving and finding a way to define value in the market, but it is safe to say that their focus on the upper end of the large corporate sector addresses only a small portion of the opportunity. A large challenge for companies of all sizes is managing supplier relationships, but Mercator Advisory Group continues to observe frustration among corporates because there are too many proprietary marketplaces for supplier information. Collaboration would simplify sourcing, given the thousands of supply relationships across multiple supplier networks. It could ensure more equitable treatment across the pantheon of supplier segments, from largest to smallest. Possibly the Business Roundtable efforts regarding faster payments will help banks develop other ways to profitably help corporates with payments beyond serving as the gatekeeper between buyers and suppliers. 2

3 Mobility One of biggest differences between consumer and commercial payments is the role of mobility. While ApplePay and Samsung Pay have provided a year of continuous headlines for consumers, the question remained when these solutions would gain wide distribution in commercial payments as well. Mercator s response to that question was most likely never not because the technology wasn t innovative or employees of enterprises (who are also consumers) expecting to migrate to mobility, but because the corporate payment programs for cards are not designed or ready for it. To date, the concept of mobility in commercial payments has rightly focused on facilitation of the process rather than the actual payment. Innovative institutions such as Wells Fargo and US Bank have envisioned corporate mobile as an extension of their online capabilities. The fact is that authorization and alerts can be routed to a smartphone as easily as to a desktop. This doesn t mean that further innovation will be limited (the recent announcement between Bottomline Technologies and Visa point to the contrary). It does mean though that commercial mobile should no longer be considered as simply a modified consumer application but should instead be applied differently for commercial payments, taking into consideration the unique business cases and uses. Mercator sees the possibility of commercial wallets to incorporate purchase controls, preapproved travel discounts, and easy expense filing. Virtual Cards As we noted in our recent research report State of the Commercial Card Market, 2015, Mercator continues to see the role of virtual cards increasing in the United States. Virtual card represents a major opportunity to address one of the key inefficiencies of the traditional commercial cards namely that it is more complicated than it needs to be. We have moved beyond a market differentiated by card products. That was a value proposition for the world of plastic cards, not virtual. As virtual cards penetrate the antiquated marketplace of travel and entertainment (T&E) cards in the U.S. and move beyond procurement activities, the market will find new ways to take advantage of the inherent flexibility in virtual cards still to be delivered and begin to transform commercial card programs into simplified 21st century tech programs. Big Data One asset of commercial payments is the amount of data that corporations have available to them covering key aspects of their business. The data ranges from supplier lists to invoice and contract data to payment methods and discounts. The challenge lies in extracting relevant and meaningful information from this big data in a manner that allows a company to maximize its position more efficiently and profitably. As we enter 2016, there are still too many corporations without the time or skills to do this. Lack of execution is the key problem. Commercial card issuers and technology providers can help. Banks and technology providers have undersold the value of their knowledge, which can be transferred to highlight the strategic value of their programs to corporates, and have continued to position themselves instead on their solutions features and functions. As Mercator 3

4 Advisory Group has noted in other reports on the subject, most commercial payments require some degree of customization at the company level. Alignment of the underlying payment operations data to a company s strategy can be an important differentiator for both banks and their corporate clients suppliers, who benefit by easier selection and faster payment. This information has an unquantified but inherent corporate value, so finding the meaningful data in the mix is key to a winning commercial card program. Mercator sees 2016 as a year in which transactional data (including payments) will start to impact ROI calculations for a host of projects, including payment hubs. Commercial Payments and Relationship Management The third key development we anticipate in commercial payments for 2016 is not driven by technology but does require true innovative thinking. It is banks or technology providers view of corporate client relationship management. Throughout 2015, Mercator has observed many instances in which the traditional issuer relationship management model no longer works. The causes of this failure are the issuers emphasis on sales goals and scorecards, lack of visibility into the corporation, subpar training of relationship managers, to name a few. In reality, a provider s relationship management structure and emphasis speaks volumes about the value the provider places on the relationship manager s role. Evaluation of a relationship approach requires honesty, and this can be one of the most challenging exercises for leadership to embrace. In researching commercial card optimization, Mercator had the opportunity to observe a few innovative issuers that have developed methods for creating more valuable relationships. While their reports are anecdotal, these organizations are reporting significant increases in commercial payable volumes (particularly in commercial card). This should send a broad message as to the opportunity cost of continuing business as usual. Like big data, relationship management is one of the true differentiators in this payments market. The concept does not permit a one size fits all approach, but good relationship management should not require massive levels of program customization. Success for commercial card relationship management in the future will in many ways look like it did many years ago when providers and corporations talked and providers provided insights and solutions from a position of knowledge of the corporation rather than knowledge of the provider s products. Digitizing Corporate Connectivity Moving beyond card-related challenges into the broader topic of corporate payments, Mercator Advisory Group sees strong momentum for banks to gain loyalty, leverage, and revenue opportunities through continued facilitation of faster end-to-end corporate connectivity with the financial institutions. This process dynamic has three fundamental blocks of business activity: The corporate financial infrastructure, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), treasury systems, payments capabilities The primary bank interface for accessing their multiplicity of services, such as online banking, portal gateways, or multiple access points The method for communicating financial transactions and information, such as SWIFT messaging 4

5 Each of these blocks represents opportunities. For corporations, continued adoption of digital services can be a catalyst (i.e., e-invoicing digitizes transactions, allowing for broader payment options and creating windows into alternative financing capabilities). Banks gain through provision of digital services, allowing for greater levels of information and more access to new business, but they must also tighten inward integration of these services across lines of business in near real time. Messaging services such as SWIFT gain by providing easier and faster secure transmission of financial interactions between corporations and their network of banks, increasing the volume of all financial transactions, including payments. Cloud-based alternatives, such as the SAP Financial Services Network, show promise but remain more theoretical until mass adoption becomes apparent. The key is an end-to-end digital vision for connecting and best delivering these three major blocks of activity which, through collaboration, helps provide institutions with a view of the world behind the corporate firewall. Examples include a more detailed understanding of the corporate maze of payment infrastructure and processes. Intelligence about corporate pain points allows banks to deliver faster access to financial information, thereby bringing corporate treasury operations closer to the institution. Mercator sees 2016 as a year when banks begin to fully embrace integration and deliver more seamless response to corporate treasurers. Conclusions It is not unreasonable to remain skeptical of the amount of change likely to be undertaken in commercial payments in Proof points are few in the mixed bag of past results. However, Mercator Advisory Group believes that there are meaningful opportunities for the coming year where payback will take place in the near term, sooner than months. The foundation is in place with increasing levels of investment and innovation entering the sector, and those entities that are investing and innovating in new solutions understand the challenges unique to commercial payments. While Mercator estimates that 2016 and beyond show very promising opportunities for commercial cards and other payments, these are merely products. The real points of differentiation that will determine the winners in the years ahead are the other aspects of the ecosystem both emerging such as mobility and big data and optimizing digital navigation, or old school, such as relationship management. Copyright Notice External publication terms for Mercator Advisory Group information and data: Any Mercator Advisory Group information that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from the appropriate Mercator Advisory Group research director. A draft of the proposed document should accompany any such request. Mercator Advisory Group reserves the right to deny approval of external usage for any reason. Copyright 2015, Mercator Advisory Group, Inc. Reproduction without written permission is completely forbidden. 5

6 For more information about this report, please contact: Richard A. Hall, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service Mercator Advisory Group is the leading independent research and advisory services firm exclusively focused on the payments and banking industries. We deliver a unique blend of services designed to help clients uncover the most lucrative opportunities to maximize revenue growth and contain costs. Advisory Services. Unparalleled independent and objective analysis in research documents and advice provided by our Banking Channels, Credit, Commercial and Enterprise Payments, Debit, Emerging Technologies, Global Payments, and Prepaid practices. CustomerMonitor Survey Series. Eight annual Insight reports based on primary data from Mercator Advisory Group s bi-annual surveys of 3,000 U.S. adult consumers to determine their behavior, use, preferences, and adoption of current and emerging payment methods and banking channels to help our clients identify and evaluate business opportunities and make critical business decisions. Consulting Services. Services enabling clients to gain actionable insights, implement more effective strategies, and accelerate go-to-market plans. Offerings include tailored project-based expertise, customized primary research, go-to-market collateral, market sizing, competitive intelligence, and payments industry training. PaymentsJournal.com. The industry s only free online payments and banking news information portal delivering focused content, expert insights, and timely news. For additional copies of this report or any questions, contact Mercator Advisory Group at

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