Making Payments Painless: Understanding FinTech
Financial technology, or FinTech, is evolving rapidly, and its implications for payment processes are growing exponentially, too. It can be difficult for businesses to understand how and where to apply FinTech to make the working capital cycle efficient, secure and user-friendly. However, by implementing the right technology, frustrations can be lessened before, during and after transactions, and the process can be more efficient, more transparent and cost less overall.
To put this rapidly changing technology in perspective, members of KeyBank’s Enterprise Payments practice— including Ken Gavrity, Executive Vice President and Group Head, Enterprise Payments; Matt Miller, Head of Product & Innovation; Megan Kakani, Vice President, Product & Innovation; and Brandon Nowac, Group Head, Commercial Payments— share what they see in the FinTech pipeline. The Enterprise Payments group has evaluated hundreds of third-party FinTech providers and selects partners that complement Key’s platform and provide the most value to our clients.
So, what is FinTech?
FinTech is a hot topic across the financial industry, and it can apply to many different types of platforms, software or digital applications that relate to all types of financial processes. Put simply, in the enterprise payment group, KeyBank uses FinTech to help move money between its clients and their constituencies, including vendors, customers, lenders and partners. FinTech ranges from established platforms such as Visa and Mastercard® to emerging solutions that focus on a particular experience or point in the payment process. For example, one such partner is AvidXchange,™ which automates the accounts payable (AP) process to accelerate approvals.
Investment in this sector has ballooned. Back in 2012, only $3.2 billion of venture capital (VC) was invested in FinTech companies. In 2017, $27.4 billion in VC was invested in FinTech globally, with North American companies comprising half of those investments. And not only is there exponentially more investment capital, there are more players in FinTech as well. Thousands of new companies are forming each year, and the capabilities of the FinTech industry collectively are expanding as individual companies develop new highly specific solutions.
The innovation coming out of these young companies is transforming how payments are made. Traditional banking has been focused on fulfillment at the actual point of transaction. Movement of money is, of course, important, but that’s just the beginning; the market operates on an expectation this will be done well, on time and securely. By adopting FinTech, banks and their clients can add value throughout the process.
What to consider when evaluating a FinTech partner.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Needs vary depending on a company’s size, tech readiness and industry—what works for manufacturing may not work for healthcare. Whether a company is ready and eager to apply FinTech across its whole financial system or wants to make smaller steps towards automation, these considerations should be made:
- Does the core solution integrate into your core accounting platform?
Your enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs to be the core data of record. If the software doesn’t fully integrate with that system, then there’s a problem.
- Look at your full financial process from beginning to end, then identify the pain points.
Are you looking to reduce paper, increase speed of approvals, better integrate AP and Accounts Receivable (AR) or start doing real-time payments? Knowing where your process can most benefit from FinTech will narrow your choices.
- Decide whether it makes sense to build or buy.
With so many options, a third-party provider may be able to fit your exact needs with basic customization. However, for some enterprises that may have proprietary processes or data, having a platform built could be the best approach.
- Trust is paramount.
You need to consider not just the tech, but the people behind it and how it will be implemented. Will you receive consultation and support? How much internal management is needed? How will your data be stored and secured? All of these are important to ask.
- Consider the implications for the resources you’re replacing.
When technology automates processes, resources need to be reallocated or, in some cases, reduced. What does that mean for the employees you currently have filling those roles?
- How will you evaluate the value added by FinTech?
Knowing some assumptions will have to be made about the value the FinTech will provide, how confident are you in them? Set guidelines for accountability and how data will be analyzed and reported, so you can continually evaluate and optimize the tech when needed.
What’s next for FinTech?
The applications of FinTech are already impressive, but it’s still a young industry. Even greater potential is ready to be tapped in the next few years. The companies today that want to grow and thrive and the emerging companies that want to stake their claim will have to zero in on specific use cases.
Some areas ripe for innovation are:
Companies will benefit from FinTech that can automate and better integrate receivables and payables, as well as the interaction between supplier and buyer.
Timing of payments and funds availability
As real-time payments proliferate and payments overall get faster, companies will need to manage what that means for cash flow. They also need to find a middle ground between the inherent conflict between AP and AR, adopting solutions for one that doesn’t take away from the other.
As new and more sophisticated threats emerge, security solutions will evolve too.
Data can be a resource, or it can be “noise.” So much data is being collected by FinTech providers, but not all of it is useful, especially if it’s not sorted, reported and connected back to actionable items for the company.
“As we start to think about what’s next in the FinTech space, there’s going to be a heavy emphasis on, once we move companies into automation, how we continue to deliver on the data side.”
Ken Gavrity, Executive Vice President and Group Head, Enterprise Payments
FinTech is evolving — How can it help you now?
FinTech is changing every day. New companies and capabilities are emerging that will make payment processes more digitized and even faster. But, taking a wait-and-see approach could leave your company behind while others take advantage of the efficiencies FinTech provides now.
At KeyBank, we’re investing in FinTech because of the value it can provide to our customers. We choose third-party providers that complement our core offerings, apply Key’s expertise to manage and improve security, ensure compliance and scale the technology for your business. With our relationship driven approach, we’ll help you implement FinTech in a strategic way with accountability at every step—in a way that makes sense for your unique organization.
Let’s talk about your business.
To learn more about how KeyBank can help you make payments painless, visit key.com/payments.