Finexio Raises $14 Million in Initial Close of Series B, Company Valued at $100 Million
Finexio, the fast-growing B2B accounts payables (AP) Payments-as-a-Service company, today announces the first close of its $30 million funding round at a $100 million pre-money valuation.
ORLANDO, Fla., July 25, 2022 (Newswire.com) - Finexio, the fast-growing B2B accounts payables (AP) Payments-as-a-Service company, today announces the first close of its $30 million funding round at a $100 million pre-money valuation co-led by Mendon Venture Partners and National Bank Holdings Corporation (NYSE: NBHC). Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), Post Road Partners, The Banc Funds, EOM Investments, and other new and existing investors also participated in this growth round.
This Series B funding will enable the embedded B2B payments infrastructure company to accelerate the accounts payable and procurement software industry adoption of its "B2B Payments-as-a-Service platform", grow its team, and accelerate product development.
Finexio embeds B2B "Payments-as-a-Service" capabilities directly into the world's largest AP and Procure to Pay Software (AP2P) suites. More than just payments, the Finexio infrastructure and APIs provide predictive payment and cashflow analytics capabilities, supplier identity and fraud prevention technology, and exception processing automation. These proprietary features allow corporate end-users of the software to seamlessly identify, deliver, and support 100% of their business payments digitally, allowing them to make an easy and immediate transition away from manual payment processes and costly paper checks.
The company's software as a service infrastructure is in use by three of the top 15 largest AP2P providers globally that serve nearly 3,000 customers with $160 billion of B2B spend in the United States. In 2021, Finexio grew revenue 236% and Gross Dollar Volume (GDV) by 211% due to successful integrated channel partnerships and corporate spend transacting on the Finexio platform in the Construction, Manufacturing, Hospitality, and Higher Education verticals.
Ernest Rolfson, Founder and CEO, said, "CFOs at medium and large-sized corporations are looking to do more with less, eliminate manual processes to save time, and increase visibility and control of their cashflow. These executives rely on critical infrastructure AP2P software to run their business and make critical decisions. Embedding Finexio's B2B payments capabilities directly into the software and workflows already familiar to the CFO and their teams makes digital payment adoption the simplest it has ever been, which creates a fantastic buyer and payee experience."
Added Rolfson, "This Series B growth investment comes behind Finexio's already strong momentum in the market as the B2B embedded payments partner of choice for AP2P software and will support additional investments in API and infrastructure technologies to support large complex AP2P software and financial institution partners. Quality institutional investors Mendon Venture Partners and National Bank Holdings Corporation were excited to provide an important boost to support the significant demand we are experiencing for payment solutions that cut costs and increase cashflow at a time when companies need it the most."
"Finexio is an exciting fintech that delivers real solutions to businesses seeking to digitize, optimize, and overall improve upon a critical aspect of every business operations, payments, on a daily basis. We continue to be impressed with Finexio's solutions, team, and results across multiple segments and increasingly partnering with financial institutions to provide embedded finance solutions", commented Andrew Marquardt, Founder and Managing Partner of Mendon Venture Partners.
"We are pleased to invest as well as partner with Finexio to bring a powerful payments solution to our business clients in the vast middle market," said Tim Laney, Chairman, President and CEO of National Bank Holdings Corporation. "The ease of use together with the opportunity to reduce cost and drive efficiencies are truly impactful to business owners and operators. As NBHC continues to collaborate with cutting-edge companies to deliver innovative solutions to our business clients, we believe that Finexio's next-gen payments platform will help to drive significant growth in the rapidly evolving payments industry."
Joe Proto, Finexio's Chairman and serial fintech entrepreneur, added, "On behalf of all of us at Finexio, we are so honored to welcome Tim Laney from NBH and Andrew Marquardt from Mendon Venture Partners to our board of directors. We are very grateful to all our clients, employees and shareholders for their commitment to our success and proud of our new world-class investors joining us in this round."
About Mendon Venture Partners
Mendon Venture Partners is a venture capital investment firm focused on the intersection of innovative technology and traditional banks. Mendon Ventures BankTech Fund is dedicated to investing in technologies that predominately serve incumbent regional and community banks across foundational pillars of financial services, including data/analytics, automation, payments, core banking/processing, and risk/compliance. Mendon Ventures intends to realize and add value through its unique approach, aligned partnerships, rigorous analytics, and trusted advisory role among market participants.
About National Bank Holding Corporation
National Bank Holdings Corporation is a bank holding company created to build a leading community bank franchise delivering high-quality client service and committed to stakeholder results. Through its bank subsidiary, NBH Bank, National Bank Holdings Corporation operates a network of 81 banking centers, serving individual consumers, small, medium and large businesses, and government and non-profit entities. Its banking centers are located in its core footprint of Colorado, the greater Kansas City region, Texas, Utah and New Mexico. Its comprehensive residential mortgage banking group primarily serves the bank's core footprint. NBH Bank operates under a single state charter through the following brand names as divisions of NBH Bank: in Colorado, Community Banks of Colorado and Community Banks Mortgage; in Kansas and Missouri, Bank Midwest and Bank Midwest Mortgage; and in Texas, Utah and New Mexico, Hillcrest Bank and Hillcrest Bank Mortgage. Additional information about National Bank Holdings Corporation can be found at www.nationalbankholdings.com.
Finexio, the leading AP Payments as a Service company, focuses on providing end-to-end AP payment capabilities embedded within Accounts Payable and Procure to Pay (AP2P) Software Platforms. The embedded nature of Finexio's solution represents a powerful disruption to traditional, manual-based AP processes. Finexio's modern, efficient service model, minimal process charges, and breadth of payment solutions translate to high-margin revenue streams and a strong competitive position for AP2P partners seeking to provide payment offerings to their end users. Learn more about Finexio at www.finexio.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
Finexio Announces 'B2B Payments' Partnership With Banc of California
The "B2B Payment" product, Banc PremierPay, will offer Finexio's streamlined accounts payable solutions to Banc of California business clients.
ORLANDO, Fla., May 23, 2022 (Newswire.com) - Finexio, the fast-growing digital AP payments-as-a-service company, today announced its partnership with Banc of California (NYSE: BANC), California's premier relationship-focused business bank, that brings its market-leading accounts payable business-to-business (B2B) payments solutions to Banc of California's customers.
Banc PremierPay, powered by Finexio, will help the middle-market and enterprise companies that Banc serves reduce AP costs and inefficiencies. The solution will also provide significant monthly time savings, improved visibility, virtual card payments, control and security and eventually embedded cash flow management products such as supply chain finance and credit lines.
Finexio's platform is embedded directly into Banc of California's existing treasury management and commercial lending offerings. This streamlined solution expands the benefits and service capabilities offered to business clients across multiple sectors, including hospitality, healthcare, legal, entertainment, manufacturing, and construction.
"We are thrilled to work with a future-thinking institution like Banc of California to help its clients optimize payments and expenses, improve their competitive position, and drive bottom-line results," said Ernest Rolfson, CEO and Founder of Finexio. "The turnkey technology we are embedding will enable Banc to further differentiate itself and provide another product built to improve the overall client experience."
"We are excited to partner with Finexio and offer our clients a premium digital solution as part of our already comprehensive cash management services," said Jared Wolff, President and CEO of Banc of California. "Utilizing Finexio's technology will allow us to provide businesses with opportunities for reductions in costs, improved cash flow, and greater internal efficiency in a rapidly evolving payments landscape."
In August of 2021, Banc of California made an initial investment in Finexio to deepen its product offerings for business clients and build out payment and related loan and deposit services.
Finexio, the leading AP Payments as a Service company, focuses on providing end-to-end AP payment capabilities integrated within Procurement, AP Software Platforms, and Financial Institutions. This embedded solution represents a powerful disruption to traditional, disjointed manual-based AP processes. Finexio's modern, efficient service model, robust API and SSO capabilities, and total payment solutions translate to high-margin revenue streams and a strong competitive position for partners. Learn more about Finexio at www.finexio.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
About Banc of California
Banc of California, Inc. (NYSE: BANC) is a bank holding company with $9.6 billion in assets at March 31, 2022, and one wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Banc of California, N.A. (the Bank). The Bank has 36 offices, including 31 full-service branches located throughout Southern California. Through our dedicated professionals, we provide customized and innovative banking and lending solutions to businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals throughout California. We help to improve the communities where we live and work by supporting organizations that provide financial literacy and job training, small business support and affordable housing. With a commitment to service and to build enduring relationships, we provide a higher standard of banking. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. For more information, please visit us at www.bancofcal.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
Fintech, Bank Collaboration Creates Wins for Customers
As the fintech industry grows, it seems logical that the rivalry between these upstarts and the traditional financial services sector would only increase. The U.S. fintech industry, which is predicted to grow at a compound average annual growth rate of 10.1 percent through 2027, continues to launch products and services aimed at disrupting multiple aspects of the financial services sector.
However, a growing number of entrepreneurs are seeking to harness the power of fintech innovation to help the traditional financial services industry evolve. Dion Lisle, founder/managing partner at Forty Grand, is one such entrepreneur dedicated to leveraging technology for the benefit of America’s community banks. Ernest Rolfson, founder and CEO of Finexio, hosted Lisle on the B2B Cashflow Conversations podcast to discuss how fintech's and banks can benefit from such alliances.
In introducing Lisle, Rolfson noted his deep background in fintech start-ups and consulting firms, including his start-up Facere, which was designed as a sort of ‘Rosetta Stone’ between banks and fintech's. “Banks really have a challenge navigating the fintech arena, so tell us about how you came up with the Rosetta Stone analogy and about the barriers that you and I realize but many others don’t?” Rolfson asked.
“I came up with the analogy when I was doing a podcast at Money 2020 Europe,” Lisle said. “My daughter was studying Hindi and became fluent using the Rosetta Stone app. I realized that there was a huge language barrier between banks and fintech's because I’ve been on both sides. There’s not only a language barrier, but the way they operate, the way they look at things — everything is different, like two gears that won’t mesh.”
“I never bought the idea that fintech's were going to eliminate banks,” he continued. “I never bought that narrative; I’ve always thought they needed each other. I really wanted to be the Rosetta Stone quite literally between these two disparate worlds to deliver better value for customers, whether they were B2B or B2C.”
“What are some of the specific barriers that you’ve seen and how have you helped navigate them?” Rolfson inquired.
“You’ve heard the expression ‘culture eats technology for lunch,’ right?” Lisle replied. “It’s always down to people. You and I both know it is hard to get people to understand the value of technology and how it improves their work. My approach now in these situations is to start with the people and try to get them to understand that we’re here to make your job better. We’re not here to replace you. Digital is a tool for you to offer better service. I tell community banks all the time, personal service plus digital service equals concierge service.”
“A lot of organizations in the community bank space must come in with a low-tech environment, is that fair to say?” Rolfson asked.
“Worse, because they may have a consultant like Jack Henry and they just do what they’re told, which means they are a captive audience to a narrow view of technology.” Lisle replied.
“Tell us about your Forty Grand venture and the value that you want to bring to community banks,” said Rolfson. “What was your inspiration for founding this new venture?”
“After three plus years with Facere, I realized that the hardest part of my job was dealing with mega banks,” he said. “I met Mike and Carlton, my partners in Forty Grand, who have worked with community banks. Community banks between $300 million and $5 billion in assets aren’t large enough to have a chief technology officer, nor should they, but there is a tremendous opportunity with these banks to add value to their footprint with digital. They don’t need a giant digital transformation program with PwC or Accenture.”
Rolfson agreed, saying, “That gets everything upside down, changing their whole back office, going to the cloud, doing everything.”
“Exactly,” said Lisle. “Digital transformation in this situation is too big to succeed and will fail later in something like 80 percent of the cases. Instead, I talk about one process at a time.”
In response, Rolfson remarked, “It’s almost like driving up the value for the community banks by being more laser focused, delivering a purpose-built solution for the specific bank pain point.”
“Yes,” said Lisle. “It’s about fixing a process, finding a method to get your customers digitally engaged.”
“What’s the benefit to the end user?” Rolfson asked.
“Fair question,” Lisle replied. “Community banks are obsessed with their end user experience. They think a lot about their small business customers. The pandemic has shown us a lot of the value in local businesses. The small and medium sized business (SMB) customers of these banks need more than a nice relationship, they are demanding digital.”
Rolfson and Lisle agreed that providing community banks with outsourced digital technology expertise was a win for both the banking and fintech industries. More banks than ever are realizing the value-add of fintech, including Banc of California, which recently invested in and partnered with Finexio. The two organizations plan on launching an AP B2B payments and working capital platform by the second quarter of 2022.
Learn more about how fintech capabilities can create a seamless payment experience for your business customers. Contact us for a consultation.
Watch the full episode of “B2B Cashflow Conversations” with guest, Dion Lisle.
Veem Leverages the Power of Finexio for Small Business Payments
For decades, small businesses have operated at a payments and cash flow disadvantage. Traditional financial organizations were oriented towards larger businesses, discounting the needs of small businesses for strong cash flow and efficient payments.
In fact, the cash flow needs of small businesses have only escalated since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. More than 50 percent of small businesses surveyed by Mercator Advisory Group report that their cash flow concerns have increased or increased significantly.
Fortunately for entrepreneurs across America, Veem’s payment ecosystem allows small businesses of all sizes to make and receive payments rapidly and at a reasonable cost. In an episode of the B2B Cashflow Conversations podcast, Finexo Founder and CEO Ernest Rolfson spoke with Marwan Forzley, CEO and Founder of Veem.
Like Finexio, Veem was founded to create a seamless payment experience, eliminating the friction that characterizes traditional small business payment platforms. Veem not only facilitates payments within the U.S., but it also expedites overseas payments. Regardless of where a payment originates and ultimately ends up, Forzley’s objective is to create as seamless an experience as possible, an attitude that Rolfson shares.
“Veem is oriented towards whatever the customer wants to do — domestic, international, cross border, foreign exchange,” said Forzley. “We have a different approach in that it’s very customer-centric.”
Solving customer pain points
“What are the typical problems you’re solving for your customers?” Rolfson asked.
“They’re looking for a simple way to move their money around, to pay or get paid,” he replied. “For example, if I have a business in California, I might want to pay a supplier in New York. I don’t have their bank account information on me, that would take some time to figure out. Instead, Veem lets them log into their account and send an email out with the payment. Our service is similar to Venmo, Square Cash or Zelle, but for businesses.”
“Essentially, you’ve removed the friction,” Rolfson said.
“That’s a key value proposition — the simplicity of the experience,” Forzley agreed. “Because when you’re doing domestic payments, you are generally doing ACH, checks, cards or wires. Wires are the bigger instrument for larger transactions. What we’re doing is basically giving you the ability to make payments of any size, pulling money from one side and depositing it on the other side.”
Adding checks to the payment platform
Rolfson noted the collaboration between Veem and Finexio that occurs in domestic payments, specifically in the check space. To assist its customers as fully as possible, Veem uses many different modalities to transmit payments, including Finexio’s network.
“We teamed up with Finexio during the pandemic when we got feedback from our customers that they wanted to spend using checks, which is kind of odd since you would assume that since people were at home, they would want to do electronic payments,” replied Forzley.
“The way we manage a check payment is different,” continued Forzley. “When the check is sent, the receiver gets a notification with an expected delivery time. When they are notified that the check has arrived, they can go actually pick it up. It’s marrying new technology with an old payment method — the new technology is the ability to track and refine delivery times and the old is actually paying by check.”
“Could you tell me why rolling out a new payment modality — in this case, checks with Finexio — is important to you and your customers?” Rolfson asked. “I’d love to learn more about your thinking behind what you call Veem local, which is your attitude towards being a comprehensive payment solution.”
“Being local is really the concept of having businesses in local markets that pay locally and want choice in their payments,” Morzley explained. “They can pay by check, card, ACH whatever they want. It turned out that there were situations in which the payer and the payee found checks appealing, especially when packaged with this new technology. So, we ended up teaming up with you to do it. I go with whatever the customer wants — because that’s what we do for them, fulfill their payment needs.”
Rolfson asked Forzley if the experience of expanding into checks is a way to expand their market share or if there was other reasoning behind this addition of a new payment modality to the Veem platform.
“We think of it primarily as the opportunity to deliver a delightful simple experience to our customers,” replied Forzley. “As a result of that, we end up getting more share of the payments wallet from our customers. Share of wallet is a by-product of simpler things — essentially that I am giving you a different experience, the experience is life long and you get what you need today.”
Learn more about how fintech capabilities can create a seamless payment experience for your customers. Contact us for a consultation.
Watch the full episode of “B2B Cashflow Conversations” with Marwan Forzley.
How AP Payments-as-a-Service Drives Business Growth
As economies slowly reopen, businesses of all sizes are ready to grow again.
And CFOs are leading the way, spending more time finding and funding new sources of value and migrating finance from a tactical to a strategic function that can support business growth.
CFOs are discovering that accounts payable can play a big role in driving business growth.
Rethinking the way that the business pays its suppliers can free up cash that be reinvested in growth-generating initiatives such as research and development, new facilities, and global expansion.
That’s why more businesses are deploying AP Payments-as-a-Service.
AP Payments-as-a-Service makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to pay their suppliers in their preferred method. Buyers enter payments into their accounting system just like now, but instead of selecting “Print,” the buyer selects “Pay.” Payments are debited from the buyer’s bank account to a trust account for secure funding and verified funds and remittances are disbursed to suppliers.
Free Up Cash with AP Payments-as-a-Service
AP Payments-as-a-Service can be a powerful tool in freeing up cash. Here’s how:
· Reduced operational costs. Paper checks cost 30 times as much as electronic payments, studies show. Paper checks require staff to print, sign and mail paper checks, replace lost checks, respond to supplier inquiries, reconcile payments and invoices, and add staff as volume increases. Checks also are responsible for more fraud losses than electronic payments. The money by migrating from paper checks to electronic payments can be reinvested in projects that yield long-term growth, such as purchasing inventory.
· Extended Day’s Payable Outstanding (DPO). Paying suppliers via certain card programs enables CFOs to instantly gain new cash flow without requiring any changes to a supplier’s existing payment terms. Since the funding for the card program is provided by the buyer’s bank, and the payback period only kicks in once the payment is initiated, businesses can gain 30 days of new cash flow by using a card to pay suppliers. Extending DPO provides growth-minded CFOs with the cash their business needs to pay down corporate debt, make capital investments, increase research and development, or support other growth initiatives.
· More opportunities to capture early payment discounts. The faster cycle times facilitated by AP Payments-as-a-Service makes it easier for buyers to capture early payment discount offers from suppliers. Capturing more early payment discounts provides CFOs with risk-free returns on the business’ cash. Businesses achieve an average 2 percent return on the invoice due amount on payments made early, per the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM). But many organizations in industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, high tech consulting earn even higher early-payment discounts, IOFM finds.
· Supply chain financing. It doesn’t always make sense for a business to use cash from its balance sheet to pay suppliers early. That’s why some AP Payments-as-a-Service providers offer supply chain financing. The technology identifies early payment discount offers that aren’t be captured, funds the early payment in exchange for the discount offered by the supplier, and accepts payment from the buyer at term. The buyer gets to share in the discount earned by the AP Payments-as-a-Service provider, without paying the supplier early. Buyers can reinvest the revenue share earned through supply chain financing into their business.
· Cash flow analytics. AP Payments-as-a-Service provides CFOs with real-time visibility into critical working capital and spending metrics such as accruals, spending per supplier, department spending, DPO, late-payment penalties, percentage of early-payment discounts captured, percentage of payments made electronically, cost per payment processed and more. These types of metrics help CFOs manage and forecast their company’s cash flow.
· More time for growth-generating activities. The efficiencies provided by Payments-as-a-Service frees AP and finance staff to focus more on growth-generating activities such as analyzing data, collaborating with stakeholders, and building relationships with strategic suppliers. Staff no longer are burdened by transaction processing tasks such as printing and mailing checks, fielding supplier inquiries, and reconciling multiple bank statements.
Cash management is essential to business growth. That’s why businesses want their CFO to break out of their traditional role as a financial scorekeeper and uncover opportunities for growth.
AP Payments-as-a-Service provides CFOs with a valuable tool for driving business growth.
The Ghosts of Payments Past are No Match for the Killer Robots of the Future
The final week of cybersecurity month is upon us, and since it’s also Halloween, we’re looking into our crystal ball to assess the role of artificial intelligence technology in accounts payable and ask, will AI assist us in the fight against payments fraud? Or, as in (nearly) every episode of Black Mirror, will it turn into a monster of our own making?
We have seen how quickly AI has advanced in certain sectors. Autonomous weaponry is already in our near-term future. Not only are these killer robots intelligent, precise, fast, and cheap, but they can also learn — like how to form swarm attacks using teamwork and redundancy, making their missions virtually unstoppable. Scary, right? Imagine savvy fraudsters using this learning to execute cyber-attacks. With AI adapting itself to each specific target, this could mean even more personalized and convincing phishing emails, or more selective theft — the stealthy targeting of a specific file from a specific computer, rather than a large-scale attack that would attract attention.
Most organizations have historically relied on pre-defined data sets to spot threats. While this is certainly useful and does mitigate risk, human security teams typically do not have sufficient time to respond to an AI-powered attack before considerable damage has already been done. As these attacks become more frequent, businesses will increasingly depend on generating their own automated, machine-speed response that can act fast when the threat is detected. According to a recent McKinsey report, “AI will become increasingly indispensable to manage cyber threats, with the market expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.6% from 2020 to 2027 and to reach $46.3 billion by 2027. At the same time, the adoption of AI is not without risks in itself: more than 60% of companies adopting AI recognize cybersecurity risks generated by AI as the most relevant ones.” (“Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity — CEPS”)
In other words, you can’t bring a human to a machine fight.
Or can you?
AI in Accounts Payable
Consider accounts payable fraud: It’s typically attempted in the form of fake invoices being sent for payment. AI can fight this by analyzing patterns in invoices, then detecting and flagging any anomalies. With the ability to gain a deep understanding of the company it protects — by learning normal and abnormal behavior for each individual user, AI can detect and halt brand-new cyberattacks.
Yet as AI technology develops in this space, security minded FinTech’s like Finexio are keeping a close eye on the new benefits it can bring to the table, but are wary of its downside as well, which can be summed up in the adage, “Information in, information out.” That is, humans still must program computers to ask the right questions. Finexio CEO & Founder Ernest Rolfson stresses the importance of personal service in the payments industry. “Change is inevitable and welcome, but the challenge is to speed up the AI process, making it more dependable and user-friendly. It’s best to ensure this technology is developed responsibly, with a macro view on how it can be used for or against an organization.”
Digitization already brings multiple benefits to accounts payable, including faster payment cycles & increased focus on more value-added activities, improved forecasting capabilities, reduced errors and cost-savings associated with the elimination of manual, paper-based processes. Overall, the key to AI use in AP security seems to be responsible implementation with human oversight. Computers are efficient, but not infallible, and human control is essential. “AI systems, unlike brains, are designed. Therefore, all the decisions upon which the systems are designed should be auditable.” (“Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity — CEPS”)
In short, AI is “the shield and the sword”, a monster that can be used for good or evil, its purpose entirely defined by the entity that wields it. It will become increasingly important for businesses to modernize financial processes by partnering with companies that can responsibly integrate AI into their solutions, allowing businesses to reap the security benefits and simultaneously combat those using it for fraudulent purposes.
Is Your Company Prepared for a Ransomware Attack?
Phishing and Ransomware are among the biggest security threats faced by AP departments today. As discussed in the previous post, phishing involves fraudsters pretending to be trustworthy entities and, through email, text or even over the phone, tricking employees into giving them money or sensitive information.
On the other hand, ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s data, preventing them from accessing business-crucial information. To regain access, the victim must pay a ransom. Ransomware is commonly spread through phishing emails and is considered one of the most damaging cyberthreats out there today.
Not preparing for an attack is preparing to fail
Effective prevention and response plans can mean the difference between a contained incident and a company-wide infection. First, let’s discuss preventative measures that can help your organization reduce the risk of infection*:
Clean credential practices: Good credential hygiene reduces the risk of unauthorized network access.
Employee training: Regular cybersecurity training focused on phishing, malicious email attachments and other social engineering tactics.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA should be made mandatory wherever possible to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Review Active Directory: Regular review of the Active Directory (AD) to find and close potential breach points such as compromised service accounts, or former employee logins, which often have administrative privileges and are a popular target for attackers looking to obtain credentials.
Network segregation: Effective network segregation contains incidents and minimizes wider disruption to the business.
Secure remote access: As RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) is an extremely popular attack point, organizations must take steps to ensure remote access is only available via certain networks or MFA-enabled VPN and limited only to users who require it for their work.
How does a digital AP solution fend off ransomware attacks?
A digital payments program is an intelligent and secure solution that can protect your AP team — and your bottom line. It does this in the following ways:
Differentiating between fraudulent and legitimate invoices: Your suppliers are informed of the proper channel to send an invoice. Finexio performs Know-Your-Customer (KYC) due diligence on its customers and suppliers to ensure accuracy and safety of payment accounts. As an extra layer of security, Finexio leverages data appending and cleansing tools to confirm 2nd and 3rd party information.
Limiting roles to specific users: Paper checks tend to pass through many hands before they get to the intended recipient. Not only does this increase the risk of the payment getting lost, but it also makes your AP process more susceptible to interception by fraudsters.
With a digital AP solution, the payment goes directly to the intended recipient. Finexio’s instant bank verification process supplies real-time verification of valid, active and correct bank accounts, allowing for seamless payments between buyers and suppliers. With fewer hands involved, it’s much easier to train people to spot the telltale signs of fraudulent transactions.
Ensuring full visibility into your accounts payable: What if an erroneous transaction does occur? Digital AP lets you see all transactions in any given period, allowing you to pinpoint where the money went and find the errors. This gives insight into how you can improve your process and prevent mistakes from happening again.
Utilizing the cloud to store data: The cloud is one of the safest places to store data today. Not only are files encrypted in the cloud — preventing fraudsters from accessing the contents — but they can only be accessed by those with certain credentials. Trusted by thousands of companies worldwide, Amazon’s AWS cloud service keeps all Finexio data secure, compliant, and encrypted. As the largest cloud services provider in the world, Amazon’s digital security infrastructure is unmatched, letting Finexio and its customers rest assured of best practice data security.
*Please note that these procedures should be considered as general, non-comprehensive advice.
Fight the Phish with Digital Accounts Payable
As the need for speed in B2B payments grows, fraudsters are getting smarter and learning how to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise accounts payable processes. The average number of business email compromise (BEC) or “phishing” attempts received in the last year increased by 15% between Q2 and Q3, identifying payment and invoice fraud as the predominant target of fraud — representing a staggering 155% increase in fraud attempts over Q3 alone.
It’s no secret to fraudsters that AP practices remain entrenched in outdated, paper-based processes. A failure to update and streamline these processes can create inefficiencies that have a ripple effect and eventually become security vulnerabilities. Many companies have viewed AP digitization as “nice-to-have” rather than a priority. However, thanks to the increasing number of attacks, the days of kicking the can down the road with little to no repercussions has ended.
Phishing schemes are executed by third-party actors who employ “social engineering” tactics to trick an unsuspecting employee into revealing sensitive information. Typically posing as a partner or vendor, fraudsters use highly targeted emails with the goal of convincing the recipient they are a trusted source, whereby the recipient divulges information or transfers funds. Some do not use email at all and instead take place over the phone or via text message.
According to recent research from Proofpoint, 75% of organizations around the world experienced phishing attacks in 2020, with 74% of attacks on US businesses resulting in a successful breach. This past September UK-based Barclay’s Bank was the victim of a large-scale phishing attack aimed at robbing customers by sourcing their online details. The messaging told users that the bank is upgrading software and that they should go to a link to confirm bank details, which resulted in the loss of millions. Unlike simple email scams of the past, claiming to be royalty or oil tycoons that need your help to shift their money, modern-day scams can be sophisticated, multi-phased and extremely convincing.
An Integrated Payments Solution Can Protect Your Business
Clearly, security presents a mounting challenge for businesses, especially when it comes to safeguarding AP operations. Technology can improve security performance including helping to identify and stop fraudulent behavior throughout the accounts payable process.
An integrated payables solution can help businesses secure their payment processes. How? It can prevent account takeovers and unauthorized account changes. Multi-factor authentication helps ensure that only authorized changes are made to critical bank and other account details. Some payments solution providers store supplier bank account data in a highly encrypted and secure network, taking that responsibility off the business and reducing risk.
Payments solutions like Finexio also include “concierge-level” onboarding services that include identity verification methods and manual expert reviews, both of which help businesses thwart identity theft and fraud attempts. Technology can also be used to identify characteristics of fraud attempts and apply automated control and response measures to protect against fraud attempts, with no end-user intervention required.
Even banks are realizing the payments ecosystem of today requires them to do more for their corporate customers than just helping them move money. Clients increasingly expect banks to help them protect that money and partnering with a FinTech provider is an effortless way they can offer those security measures.
Tackling Cyber Fraud: Five Tips to Protect Your Company
Before you tell yourself it won’t happen to your business, let this sink in: Ransomware will attack a business every 11 seconds by the end of 2021, according to estimates from the research firm Cybersecurity Ventures. These ransomware attacks will cause an estimated $11.5 billion in damage. And that is not even counting attacks on individuals, which occurs with even greater frequency. Thirty percent of companies surveyed in the 2021 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey Report said payment fraud in particular is on the rise and the majority blamed adjustments brought on by the pandemic. So, what can you do to safeguard your organization? Let’s consider some practical tips.
Security By Design
Make sure you invest in the basics. This includes installing and regularly updating antivirus and anti-malware software on all devices, requiring employees to use strong passwords, using two-factor or multi-factor authentication, installing a firewall and monitoring it, and limiting employee access to business-critical data. When analyzing what went wrong in the wake of an attack, experts often discover the victim invested in the wrong tools or processes. When seeking a partner in business-critical processes like accounts payable, look for someone who knows how to protect an organization — someone who understands the mindset of cybercriminals and the vulnerabilities they seek to exploit.
Used to deter hackers from accessing sensitive information, data encryption is an important line of defense in your online security architecture. Every day, we create and share data at an astounding rate. With every email, text message, and transaction, more data becomes available for hackers to exploit.
Your data should always be encrypted, both in transit and at rest. Data in transit refers to the transfer of data between endpoints, for instance, a B2B payment from client to supplier. Data at rest refers to data that is stored in a database, like supplier bank account and sensitive identification information. If this data is compromised, encryption can mean the difference between a devastating security breach and the release of unintelligible ciphertext. Encryption can save your business from non-compliance penalties and help preserve trust with your customers and business partners.
Basic user authentication techniques (an identity and a password) are useless against sophisticated attacks. For this reason, it’s necessary to implement advanced user practices — like context-based, two-factor authentication and third-party authentication. These techniques, while not infallible, will provide a valuable layer of defense.
Advanced authentication adds another layer of protection to help ensure that when a user is accessing your network, they are who they say they are. User accounts are at significant risk from hackers and cyber criminals — a problem that’s increasingly prevalent as remote workers rely on the internet to access sensitive business information from home.
Delete Old Data + Backup Current Data
Cybercriminals do not limit their efforts to active data. Data at rest, in transit and “in storage” are all at risk. Old, unused data stored on networks and in the cloud should be destroyed to keep it out of the hands of criminals. For example, most organizations collect and store sensitive information on its employees and customers. Yet once those employees or customers move on, businesses should remove it from their systems to prevent liability due to any breaches in security.
Backing up your data will mitigate damage in case of a cyberattack. Establish a backup system and routinely assess it to ensure it is working. Remember, it is not just cybercriminals that could compromise your business. A national disaster, fire, equipment malfunction, or an employee error could also jeopardize business-critical data.
Train Your Employees
Business leaders often assume employees understand cybersecurity best practices, but only rarely is that an accurate assumption. Create a culture of cybersecurity awareness by:
Implementing proper password management: Best practices include using long passwords that are not easy to guess, using unique passwords for different systems and utilizing a password manager tool that randomly generates passwords, such as LastPass or Dashlane.
Being on the lookout for “spear phishing” attempts, in which criminals target a person in your organization with the purpose of tricking them into sharing confidential information by posing as a trustworthy source. Train your employees to uncover these schemes: hovering the mouse over a link to confirm the URL before clicking it, and not downloading attachments from unknown sources are two simple ways to thwart phishing attempts.
These are just a few out of the many ways you can defend your organization from cyberattacks. For more tips, visit staysafeonline.org.
Revolutionizing Customer Experience through Payments Transparency
When Dan Geraty founded Clearent in 2005, the credit card payments ecosystem was dominated by banks with little interest in investing in the space, considering credit card payments more of a cash cow than an opportunity for innovation.
Seeing the growth potential, Geraty established Clearent with a singular goal: to offer transparent, seamless B2B and B2C credit card transaction services. From these beginnings, Clearent, which has grown into a global leader in payment processing across North America, is now a division of Xplor, a global platform integrating software, payments and ecommerce-enabling services.
In a recent B2B Cashflow Conversations podcast with Finexio CEO and founder Ernest Rolfson, Geraty described how the payments landscape has transformed to provide B2B and B2C companies with payments services that operate smoothly, efficiently and effectively in the background, so that companies and their customers can operate with confidence.
“When Clearent entered the market, what problem did you want to solve?” Rolfson asked.
“What we saw was a lack of investment in the market, so the customer experience as a result was generally terrible,” Geraty replied. “You wouldn’t find anybody that said they loved their merchant acquirer as a partner. So that’s why we really thought there was an opportunity to build a better platform for our own salespeople, our channel partners, and of course, for the merchants that we work with.”
Geraty explained that the company occupies the role of a merchant acquirer, acting as a middleman between merchants or card acceptors on the one side, and Visa MasterCard on the other side. As a merchant acquirer, Clearent moves the data and funds associated with credit and debit card transactions.
“When you go and swipe your card at a restaurant, there is an authorization that goes out from our network to Visa and Mastercard to determine whether the card is good,” Geraty related. “When the authorization is received, your transaction goes through. At the end of the day, those transactions are batched up, and then come to us. Through a settlement process, we make sure the merchant and other parties in the process get their slice of the transaction. We perform these services now for about 60,000 customers.”
Clearent and other payment processing innovators have transformed the space during the past 16 years, changing what was essentially a commoditized, generic, inefficient process into one where B2C and B2B companies can leverage payments to grow their businesses.
“Merchant acquiring was originally seen in some respects as helping the merchant, helping accelerate receivables and increase ticket size,” noted Rolfson. “The merchant’s attitude today is more like ‘how cheap can I get it’, or ‘I don’t want to pay a fee for taking the card.’ There’s a tendency to discount all the other benefits of processing like eliminating waste and inefficiency. How, in this environment, how do you sell credit card processing?”
“Back in the day, credit card processing was all terminal-based and cards were physically swiped,” Geraty replied. “Today, it’s much more about integrations with software. It’s all about, actually, the fact that payments should disappear into the background. Essentially, that means that transactions shouldn’t be about payments, the payment should happen without anyone thinking about it.”
“While that sounds easy,” he continued, “There are all sorts of mindset changes that need to happen to enable that. We try to win based on service and a better platform. With the acceleration towards payments actually disappearing into the background, merchants are getting more value out of platforms like Clearent despite having to pay for card acceptance.”
Rolfson agreed, saying, “When we get questions about why organizations would want to offer payments by card, we always talk about the value behind it. If it’s solving a problem for them, then they need to pay the fees.”
Geraty emphasized that customers of both B2C and B2B companies expect to pay with their cards. “If you’re in the business of delighting your customers, you are not going to end that experience and tell them that they have to pay with checks or cash,” he said. The pandemic accelerated the curve towards electronic payments, he added, increasing the value proposition for efficient and effective credit card processing.
“What areas is Clearent seeking to expand into?” Rolfson asked.
“We like to buy into verticals where software is mission critical,” Geraty responded. “We’ve acquired software providers recently in the HVAC services space. Think about companies that have between 10 and 50 trucks on the road servicing HVAC customers. Instead of using Excel or Google spreadsheets, there’s a big opportunity for software to manage payments, scheduling and other aspects of the business.”
“It used to be that they would fix your system and you’d get a bill 30 days later,” he continued. “Now the technician brings a tablet with them, and customers pay with a credit card right at the point of service. There are many other features that the software offers including truck routing, matching technicians with jobs, and so forth. This is mission critical to the field service solution provider.”
As the credit card payments space continues to innovate, B2B and B2C companies have more opportunities than ever before to optimize their payments infrastructure to streamline the payments experience, realize revenue from receivables and delight their customers.
Discover how innovations in payments can help your business generate revenue while giving your customers a better experience. Book A Meeting with one of our payments experts or simply Contact Us to get started!
How Hospitality is Using Digital AP to Prepare for a New Era
The effects of the pandemic on the hospitality sector mean forecasting and strategic decision-making have never been more critical, yet it is increasingly challenging. Unpredictable demand has made the budgeting and financial planning process difficult. Reductions in occupancy, continued uncertainty around vaccinations and uneasiness regarding travel all present both short-and-long-term challenges.
For example, full-service hotels in traditional leisure markets have observed strong weekend demand, followed by single-digit occupancy during weekdays due to a halt in business travel. Up to 34% of pre-COVID-19 business travel could be permanently replaced by technology, and even a fraction of this estimated loss could have devastating consequences for business-oriented hospitality properties. Other full-service hotels located in markets with corporate and convention demand are operating at record low occupancy figures due to the loss of mid-week corporate bookings. And with the Delta variant of COVID-19 scuttling corporate return-to-work plans, there is no guarantee of these bookings coming back any time soon.
It is a challenging time, to be sure, but there is hope for recovery. Many hotels and hospitality-oriented businesses are looking for ways to streamline internal financial processes to help supplement lost income, increase cash flow, and strengthen their business for the new post-COVID era. Digitizing B2B payments is one of the key solutions hotels are employing to help safeguard for the future.
Digitizing B2B Payments in the Hospitality Industry
COVID-19 has accelerated the digitization of everyday life for most consumers, and this also is true in the B2B space. According to a 2020 McKinsey & Company report on the state of travel as industry, investing in digital technology is the primary way that the travel businesses they spoke with are planning to grow again following COVID-19.
Accounts payable is an area ripe for transition. According to the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM), AP staffers spend 84% of their time processing invoices, and more than 50% of companies still pay vendors by mailing paper checks, costing as much as $54 billion annually. Not to mention that paper invoicing and checks also require people to come into the office and handle them.
Finexio, in partnership with BirchStreet’s automated procure-to-pay software, takes what can be very complex payment processes for the hospitality industry and simplifies them across properties, reducing costs and increasing revenue.
For example, Birchstreet outlines the story of a particular client. “Prior to modernizing their payment solution, this client was paying 95% of their invoices by check, 5% via ACH and had no virtual credit card (VCC) payments in place. Their manual processes meant invoice approvals were taking up to 10 days. After adopting an automated invoice management solution, the hotel was able to shrink approval time to 3 days, as well as reduce checks by 50%, increase ACH by 30%, and add in VCC as a payment option. By updating their solution, the hotel went from a cost of $9K for processing to a profit of $6K and improved their relationships with suppliers by expediting payments.”
The Benefits of Virtual Card
Virtual credit cards (VCC's) are a recent innovation in hospitality B2B payments. Traditionally used by travel agencies to pay hotels for client stays, VCC's have proven beneficial to the hospitality payments ecosystem, bringing a host of benefits to B2B payors and suppliers, including greater control over AP spending, and enhanced security through unique, single-use card numbers, enabling automatic reconciliation. VCC’s allow companies to save significantly when making cross-border payments by allowing payment receipt in local currency, avoiding fees that can be incurred when receiving payment across borders. Hotels and travel management companies can reap additional benefits by decoupling when they receive payment from when they pay suppliers, easily extending payment terms to free up cash flow, turning their accounts payable department into a new source of revenue.
The Future of Hospitality B2B Payments
To avoid future fallout, hospitality businesses need to have the systems and technology in place to ensure they can recover losses in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Virtual card use is currently the best way to achieve this as it is a more secure payment method that protects private information and helps prevent damaging data breaches.
As a result of the income loss the hospitality industry has experienced, savings will be a priority throughout the remainder of 2021 and 2022. And B2B payments will be the biggest area of opportunity for optimized processes in the coming years. Digitization and investment in technology will no longer be a trend, but a mandate that will drive greater innovation and bring long-term benefits to the B2B travel payments ecosystem.
Skift Research in partnership with McKinsey & Company. The Travel Industry Turned Upside Down. McKinsey & Company, 2020.
Generate Revenue & Increase Margins with High-Touch, Value-Added Payments Services
For companies seeking to generate revenue, improve valuation and increase margins, adding PayFac-as-a-Service to a digital payments program can help monetize payments while serving customers more effectively and efficiently. Many companies utilize third-party credit card processors such as Stripe, Square or Braintree, which lack a transparent pricing model, according to Caleb Avery, CEO of Tilled, a payfac-as-a-service provider.
In a recent B2B Cashflow Conversations podcast with Finexio CEO and founder Ernest Rolfson, Avery explained the many benefits of transitioning from using a third-party credit card processor to monetizing payments through a payfac-as-a-service model. This model allows software companies to turn payments from a cost-center to a profit-center while enhancing the services they offer their clients.
“Frequently, we’ve been brought in by large software companies to make sense of their credit card processing statements, which you probably are aware are complicated and difficult to figure out unless you have experience,” said Avery. “These CFOs need help figuring out how much they are paying in fees and whether those fees are reasonable.”
Flat-rate pricing models like those of Stripe, Braintree and Square are confusing because their customers don’t know what the underlying interchange rate is for their transactions. The interchange rate is the transaction fee paid by B2B merchant bank accounts when customers use credit or debit cards. Avery noted that these third-party credit card processing firms layer other fees on top of interchange fees, creating a flat-rate pricing model that is deceptively simple and ultimately expensive for growing companies.
“When you’re having these conversations, what types of companies are you talking about, a larger retailer or an e-commerce company?” Rolfson asked.
“More B2B or B2C software companies,” answered Avery. “Think about a dental software company that sells SaaS to dentists, who also have end-consumers or patients who are making payments. For example, the dental software company collects $100 payments across 700 dentists that have downstream customers that are paying them for services. These dental software companies are just passing on the flat fees from Stripe or Braintree.
“For the software company, there’s just no revenue, they are just passing along this unreasonable price to their customer,” Avery continued. “One of the reasons these software companies start out with Braintree, Square or Stripe is that they make it easy to get up and running. Payments aren’t a core part of their business, just a portion of what they’re building.”
“It’s the critical infrastructure that the companies need to use the software,” Rolfson noted. “Payments is one little module, but they haven’t yet figured out how to monetize these payments.”
Avery agreed, observing that the payments piece doesn’t seem that significant when these companies are small, but as they scale, there is quite a bit of money involved that is going out to third-party processors. This was when Avery and his partners came up with the idea for Tilled to simplify the process of monetizing payments for these companies.
Rolfson said that software companies are likely able to build their own front-end and funnels, but when it comes to the credit card processing end, they aren’t likely to know how to create a seamless process.
“Exactly,” Avery agreed. “They’re asking their customers to fill out four-page PDFs and looking for driver’s licenses and voided checks. You might even have to fax a voided check. To top that off, you’ve got to wait weeks to get your merchant account approved. That’s decades in today’s business environment.”
Avery explained that it was at this point that Tilled was born, because they had a client who wanted to know what it would take to become a fully registered payment facilitator, which is the basis for Stripe, Square, PayPal and Braintree. However, there is a significant barrier to becoming a fully registered payment facilitator, including a lengthy, expensive process.
“What’s the better way?” Rolfson asked. “You’ve figured out how to overcome this barrier to entry. How does it work for your customers?”
“Tilled offers the benefits of a fully registered payments facilitator without the hassles to these companies,” Avery replied. “They want to offer an instant digital onboarding experience and gain a nice revenue stream for their payments. We call this payfac-as-a-service. Companies can come to Tilled and launch in a few weeks, plugging in our APIs and SDKs and letting us handle the complex back-office operations. We offer a turnkey model. For the dental software company with $100 million in payments, there’s potentially 80 basis points of margin, which is $800,000 in profit.”
“For our listeners who might be less familiar with this model, this is three or four times the average in terms of margin,” Rolfson observed.
Avery agreed, noting, “On the traditional ISO side of the business, 20 to 30 basis points is the average. The idea that a software company could make 80 or 100 or 120 basis points on payments is pretty uncommon, but is a norm that we are seeing. These companies are also adding a lot of value on top of payments.”
“This is exactly what we are doing here at Finexio on the outbound payment side,” Rolfson said. “The payment itself is a commodity. But we can make more than 200 basis points because we are offering a high-value add service with turnkey support.”
Why Card Payments Outperform ACH—Every Time
For busy CFOs seeking to add supplier payment options, ACH — or Automated Clearing House (ACH) process — offers the ability to manage bank-to-bank payments in a cheap and reliable manner. ACH, in fact, can initially appear preferable to credit and virtual credit card options due to these factors, leading organizations to bypass credit card options in favor of ACH.
However, an objective comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of ACH and credit cards reveals that cards are a superior option in most cases both for businesses and consumers. Caleb Avery, the CFO and Founder of Tilled, a Payment Facilitator as a Service company, recently joined Finexio CEO and Founder Ernest Rolfson on his podcast, “B2B Cashflow Conversations” and noted, “there’s a disconnect between the timing of the transaction and the timing of the actual movement of the money, which is one of the big issues with ACH today.”
For consumers, “getting their rewards or cash back by paying with a card” is a major benefit. For businesses, receiving a guarantee that the good or services will be paid for is a distinct advantage, he continued. Both consumers and businesses benefit from the ability to transact business instantly.
Rolfson agreed that a two-or-three-day time frame for ACH transaction settlement is too long, carrying the same disadvantages as paper checks. Both ACH and checks lack visibility in terms of whether the funds promised will be available as promised.
“Would you really want someone to send you a piece of paper and you don’t know whether there are good funds behind it or not?” Rolfson continues. “You’re not willing to pay a fee to make sure you’re getting your money?”
The time lag in authorization, approval and movement of funds create an unacceptable risk for businesses. Even if the money is in the bank account of the consumer or organization purchasing goods or services, the time lag means the money might not remain in that account, creating potential for an unfulfilled payment.
Rolfson, who was an executive at MasterCard prior to founding Finexio, firmly believes in the advantages of credit card payments.
“Cards are convenient for the buyer and seller, big time,” said Rolfson. He continued on, saying most people don’t realize how inconvenient and impractical ACH really is. “There is a reason why it is super cheap, like 10 or 15 cents. Why isn’t there 100 percent adoption? Why are there still 12 billion B2B checks? Why are there trillions of consumer checks? Because no likes ACH.”
Avery agrees that while there are barriers to improving ACH, he is “hopeful that real-time payments and some other faster money movement methods that are becoming more and more mainstream” will not only create a better version of ACH but encourage widespread adoption of ACH. Real-time payments, also known as RTP, are payments that can be initiated and settled rapidly at any time of the day, throughout the year.
Rolfson is skeptical that real-time payments will happen within or outside of ACH anytime soon. Furthermore, as Avery admits, these solutions “can’t necessarily solve ACH’s fundamental flaws.”
“The last time I checked, banks continue to move at a glacial pace, so the idea that real-time payments will suddenly come and kill everything else is unlikely,” Rolfson said. “Banks make money by sitting on your money and collecting on that float. With zero interest rates, how much money could banks charge for real-time payments to offset that? You can’t charge enough to make up for it. And people aren’t going to be willing to pay ten times more.”
In the end, both Avery and Rolfson agree that major improvement in ACH will be difficult to implement, which leaves cards as the most secure, convenient and efficient method for B2B transactions for the foreseeable future.
Related Content: Another benefit of cards? They’re the most secure B2B payment method available today. Read our recent post, “Is Your B2B Payment Method Safe or Putting You at Risk?” to learn more.
Become a data expert.
Get the latest articles on all things data, product, and growth delivered straight to your inbox.