Author Archives: David Gustin



How the Contagion Effect Could Blow Up Network Finance

In the real world, you plan for an event and it works out for a while. Then things fall apart. So you react and plan more — hoping to stop the problem from creating a contagion effect.

And here you are, thinking that you built this nice network finance model to finance your suppliers not just on approved invoices, but invoices that have been issued, or even more upstream, purchase orders that have been issued. And things have been working smoothly for a couple of quarters, or maybe for even a year or two.

But then it happens. More things fall apart.

The Blurring of Supply Chain Finance Definitions

I often get this question about how factoring and supply chain finance differ from traditional invoice finance. And the real answer is its very murky. There is certainly a blurring between invoice finance, invoice discounting, factoring, supply chain finance and asset-based lending.

By whatever name you want to call it, what really matters is what usury laws are governed by the lending technique and how bankruptcy court will interpret the structure (loan, asset purchase) and what the state or legal jurisdiction laws are in relation to the technique. Definitions are fine to help educate and illustrate, but they are meaningless when it comes to judges and investors.

4 Traps when applying Artificial Intelligence to B2B Lending

The crowdsourcing concept called the “wisdom of the crowd” is where a thousand non-experts will make better decisions than the most sophisticated experts in any field. Yet humans are subject to biases in their decision-making. These biases can bleed into the artificial intelligence algorithms we design to try to make us more efficient and effective. Read about the four that we should recognize.

Early Pay Finance Ain’t Easy: Understanding Customer Deductions

Every industry is affected by customer deductions. Called a variety of names by companies — including deductions, chargebacks or short-pays — from the perspective of a digital lender focused on invoice finance, understanding the nature of deductions is a first start to building smart underwriting and dynamic lending capabilities. Why? Deductions mean a diluted invoice value.

Fintech or House Bank for Early Payment Solutions: Key Differences

There are three buyer-centric solutions to facilitate early payment for suppliers: supply chain finance, dynamic discounting and commercial cards (p-cards, v-cards). Bank-developed solutions in this space rely heavily on companies using credit lines. The focal point tends to be on p-card solutions, not dynamic discounting. Why? P-cards generate much more in fee revenue than dynamic discounting, particularly if a client uses its own funds to facilitate early payment instead of a bank credit line. 

Why Platforms and Source-to-Pay Networks Need Finance

More and more procurement software platforms and source-to-pay networks are receiving RFPs from clients requesting way to help improve working capital. Companies, even middle-market companies, have global supply chains. Working capital is important and could manifest itself in the form of yield management, ROI and balance sheet improvement. This is a box on the RFP that vendors need checked. But the path is not easy.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 3): Challenges and Opportunities for Payment Operations

e-invoicing

As anyone tasked with extending and integrating a procure-to-pay (P2P) system to fully support the second “P” has no doubt learned, corporate payment processes and systems are highly complex — perhaps even more so than transactional purchasing activities. This Spend Matters PRO series provides a procurement-centric introduction to the topic of payments, offering a look into the payments lifecycle and how it integrates with core P2P processes and workflows.

Earlier installments (see Part 1 and Part 2) explored the invoice-to-reconciliation process, internal and external parties involved in core payments workflow and P2P technology best practices. In Part 3, we turn our attention to the nitty-gritty of managing core payment operations, examining a full list of the challenges companies face in confronting payments today, as well as the financial and operational costs of managing payments sub-optimally. We also provide an overview of shared services environments for payment operations while also exploring the many challenges companies face in attempting to drive payment process and system centralization generally.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments: Best-in-Class P2P Technology Capabilities and the Reconciliation Process (Part 2)

BuyerQuest

There have been two (somewhat bad) jokes around product naming since procurement technology adoption became widespread. The first was when SAP labeled its e-procurement product “supplier relationship management” (SRM), which was a misnomer, to say the least. SRM, which competed against Ariba, Commerce One and others at the time, was about managing transactional buying, not about strategic supplier relationships. The other naming “fail” was unfortunately more generalized outside of a single provider, and that was labeling the broader transactional procurement tech sector as “P2P,” with the second “P” standing for “payment.”

If there is a silver lining in this naming misstep, however, it’s that we have the power to actually do something about it today. P2P solutions are finally beginning to embrace the payment ecosystem more holistically, and procurement is taking an orchestration role in the process. This Spend Matters PRO series provides a procurement-centric view into payments, exploring the payments process and all that it encompasses through a “get smart” primer.

Part 1 provided an introduction to the topic and explored what e-procurement systems do (and do not do) to enable payment processes. It also explored what SAP Ariba and Coupa have developed from an integrated e-procurement, e-invoicing and payments offering perspective though various partnerships. The second installment in this series provides a summary checklist of best-in-class e-procurement and e-invoicing native payment capability and integrations (internal system and third party) to enable payments and an overview of the invoice to reconciliation process, outside of P2P systems alone. It includes an introduction to various electronic funds transfer (ETF) models, tax considerations, currency considerations and related topics. It also includes a look at all of the internal and external functions and parties involved in different stages of the reconciliation process.

Partnerships, SCF+ and More: Taulia’s Crossroads (Part 2)

crossroads

In the first installment in this series, we provided our own recent history lesson on Taulia and how it got to where it is today — and the crossroads it currently faces from a strategy perspective. As we wrap up our Spend Matters PRO update on Taulia, we explore a number of specific areas of its business today, including a deep dive into its SCF+ offering, a tech-enabled and simplified approach to reverse factoring for the long-tail supplier masses instead of just large vendors. We also explore how Taulia is currently positioning itself today as it engages customers and how, on many levels, its core offering is a Trojan horse for what it really wants to sell with partners (but why that foot in the door with procurement, IT, accounts payable and treasury is an important as a first step and how these different worlds are converging). Granted, it would be easy — and not incorrect — to observe that the broader e-procurement market and purchase-to-pay (P2P) market remains distinctive from Taulia’s core sector today. Yet going forward, one can make the case that the worlds of generic (indirect) and category-specific buying, transactions, financing and payment will come together. And this is where understanding Taulia's emerging strategy matters.

Taulia’s Crossroads: Both Directions Lead to Good Places (We Think!) — Part 1

Taulia

We had the chance to spend two days last week at Taulia Connect, the customer conference of one of today’s largest and fastest growing e-invoicing, supplier network and fintech providers globally. (One hundred customers may not seem like a lot, but in this sector, it is.) Despite its solid momentum since the last event in fall 2014 — including a 100% renewal rate — Taulia has introduced a materially evolved strategy and face to the market since the last time it shared its perspective and vision in this in front of their user, prospect and partnership base. This two-part Spend Matters PRO brief explores Taulia’s product, marketing and competitive evolution and what we perceive to be a current strategic crossroads. And we can’t help but provide some broader perspective and commentary on Taulia's approach to supplier networks, e-invoicing, discounting and supply chain finance — and how the firm is trying to disrupt a number of incumbent ecosystems (and different vendors) in more than one market segment it is competing in today and heading into tomorrow.

Spend Matters 50/50: Mastercard – A Provider to Watch in 2015

Mastercard is one of our 50 Providers to Watch. We will be highlighting 100 companies (50 to Know, 50 to Watch) from our 2015 Spend Matters Almanac over the span of 100 days. Practitioners are encouraged to browse the categories listed in our Almanac to find the provider that best fits their needs.

As it relates to business finance, Mastercard is a dominant provider of various purchasing card products to help procurement and treasury manage spend.

Spend Matters 50/50: C2FO – A Provider to Watch in 2015

C2FO is one of our 50 Providers to Watch. We will be highlighting 100 companies (50 to Know, 50 to Watch) from our 2015 Spend Matters Almanac over the span of 100 days. Practitioners are encouraged to browse the categories listed in our Almanac to find the provider that best fits their needs.

C2FO developed an online marketplace that enables suppliers and big buyers to negotiate better payments terms in a live bid/ask environment. For those who are not familiar with what a working capital market is, in C2FO’s case, suppliers provide a rate at which they will discount their invoice for early payment. This is a significant point of distinction.