It is extremely easy to make the case for automation in the accounts payable (AP) process.
After all, the AP process and the broader procure-to-pay process that it sits within, are rife with manual tasks that are repeated over and over again, sometimes at a staggering volume, depending on the size of the company in question.
And all of those tasks – onboarding vendors, approving purchase orders, receiving and processing invoices, matching up invoices and purchase orders, getting payment authorization on verified invoices – can be improved, to at least some degree, with software.
The benefits are obvious and easy to quantify. Saving time. Committing fewer errors. Freeing up bandwidth for finance teams to spend on more strategic work. Gaining more control over and visibility into the accounts payable process.
So it’s no surprise that, over the last couple of decades, we have seen an explosion in the number of AP automation providers in the market; tackling the entire procure-to-pay process, or focusing on a specific portion of it, or specializing in specific verticals or use cases.
What is surprising is how little innovation we have seen take place at the core of the procure-to-pay cycle: the payment.
Roughly 40% of all B2B payments in the U.S. are made via paper checks. Paper checks are still the most ubiquitous form of payment between businesses, with more than 80% of businesses reporting that they still pay other firms via paper checks from time to time, making paper checks the most common B2B payment method.
Paper checks! In 2022!
Why is this the case? Why do checks and ACH payments make up the vast majority of B2B payment volume, despite the numerous advantages offered by more modern, flexible payment mechanisms?
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