Finance Content

Deferred Buyer Payment Solutions: The Search for the Holy Grail

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

Most discussions about early payment solutions focus on buyer-centric models, ones that scale by bringing technology, managed services and perhaps some underwriting to offer supplier finance. This is a big opportunity that top providers have been going after for years, of course, and the potential market is huge. But the flip side of the coin, deferred payment solutions, where sellers are paid early (or based on their standard terms) and small buyers can extend those terms outward to 90 or 180 days, is a less understood market — both in terms of potential, technologies and the type of underwriting to manage losses.

PPC: On Late Payment — Regulate, Shame or Just Deal with It?

There was some recent shaming of some very large companies by the UK government that did not comply with the Prompt Payment Code (PPC). Seventeen large companies, including heavyweights such as Vodafone, Rolls Royce, SSE and British Sugar, were suspended pending promises to fall into line.

Short of legislation, shame can be a tool. But when we think of the damage that large corporates have done far beyond late payment (i.e., Purdue Pharma & the opioid crisis, Lehmans & the Financial crisis, etc.) without paying any price, you have to wonder how effective shaming will be.

Goldilocks, Capital Structure and Supply Chain Finance

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

Ahhh. This porridge is just right.”

— from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”

The Goldilocks principle is named by analogy to the children's story “The Three Bears,” in which finding the right temperature for porridge took some sampling.

So how do you make sure the porridge is just right if you are today’s middle market treasurer and need to balance liquidity, access to capital (and if rated, a quality rating), and ensuring the right amount of cash?

Most middle market companies are not flush with cash. In fact, when thinking of capital structure, there are many things that keep the CFO/treasurer up at night.

What’s the Big Deal Behind Vodafone’s Supply Chain Finance Program?

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

In a recent TXF article on Vodafone's supply chain finance program and its early pay program, Oliver Gordon, features editor, said: “Vodafone has been using complex financial engineering devised by GAM and Greensill to enable it to profit from and invest in its own SCF offerings and bolster its DPO (days payable outstanding).”

Personally, I have no problem with a company wanting to use its cash to self-fund an early payment program for their suppliers in exchange for discounts. Many large corporates implement some form of dynamic discounting that enables their long tail suppliers, and specific segments — diversity suppliers, choice suppliers, small businesses — access to early payment once an invoice has been approved. In fact, this practice has been going on for decades and now technology allows companies to systematize it and offer it to select suppliers, different supplier segments or all suppliers.

I also have no problem if a company wants to use this construct to invest in their own payables or some other company’s payables. But this does bring up three important questions.

Cloud AP Automation: Where Transparency and Security Intersect

cyber attack

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Laurent Charpentier, COO and chief innovation officer at Yooz Inc.

When it comes to information security, there might appear to be a dichotomy between what many providers boast as an AP automation solution that is both transparent and secure. A dichotomy because typically when we think of secure, we imagine things like being locked in a file cabinet, stored in a bank vault or safe, accessed by only certain people with biometric verification. That doesn’t sync up with something that is transparent — fully visible and easily accessible. But actually, transparency and security overlap more than you think when it comes to today’s smart AP automation solutions.

Why Payment Companies are Missing an Opportunity with Early Pay (Part 2)

Small Business Credit

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

As we pointed out in our last post, payment companies are looking to convert paper checks to cards, and this is drawing interest from many firms, from private equity investing into payment companies to acquisitions (e.g., Fleetcor acquiring Nvoicepay, Visa buying Earthport). The key weapon of payment companies is to leverage interchange fees to entice their clients (buyers) through rebates and extended terms to provide an early pay option for suppliers, typically with a discount from the invoice of 2% to 3%. Yet there are several reasons why a “card only” strategy from payment companies is suboptimal.

Financial Services Industry to Face Technology Disruptions over Next 5 Years, Report Says

During the decade since the global financial crisis, the financial services industry has experienced major technological disruption, experts say. However, a new report states that 52% of financial leaders say their leadership teams do not appreciate the possible results of continued technology disruption. According to research released by the advisory and support services specialist Vuealta, “The Future of Financial Services: Planning for Every Eventuality,” the financial services industry may face an array of challenges and disruptors during the next five years.

Why Corporates Cant Fund Early Pay Programs (Dynamic Discounting + SCF)

We hear so much about how flush American companies are with cash. Pundits are out there talking about how much cash corporate America has. But this story is highly misleading. Five percent of S&P 500 companies hold more than half the overall cash; the other 95% of corporations have cash-to-debt levels that are the lowest in data going back to 2004, according to Wells Fargo research. We know who those 5% are — they are the GAFA companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Corporate debt is exploding, and can be more addictive than crack or opioids. Debt is fine when things are going well, but when revenue stalls, bad things can happen.

How Fintechs Can Use Non-Banks for Supply Chain Finance

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

In my last post, Many Fintechs Still Rely on Bring-Your-Own-Bank Strategy for Supply Chain Finance, I discussed how source-to-pay platforms and other cloud software providers still rely on their clients’ house banks for supply chain finance and why that might not be the wisest strategy given the times. So if you are a Fintech and want to offer supply chain finance, what are your options beyond a house bank strategy?

Supply Chain Finance Gets Faster, Cheaper with Technology Like Blockchain, IoT

Supply chain finance (SCF) has become increasingly common over the last decade, building off advances in technology in industrial monitoring and information sharing brought about by the proliferation of IoT and blockchain technology. As technology to facilitate supply chain finance proliferates at all levels, marginal gains become increasingly important.

Coupa Pay: Solution Review and Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters has analyzed dozens of solutions that span procurement and payables processes. This includes procure-to-pay (P2P), invoice-to-pay (I2P) and accounts payable automation solutions. Yet while each of these technology areas extends transactional capability into payments to some extent, each solution targets this area in a different manner. Some of this has to do with the way individual vendors explain their value propositions to customers and have built products based on their unique vantage point. And in an upcoming series on Spend Matters PRO, we will analyze the ways various vendors make the case for their approach to B2B payments (one model/size does not fit all!)

Today, however, we look at one vendor which is continuing to extend its P2P and I2P software to payments: Coupa. The provider's rapidly evolving solution, Coupa Pay, is unique on multiple levels both for what components it combines and also because it follows Coupa’s “unified” approach – which we will explore in this research brief in more detail.

Coupa Pay targets the payment process in a unique manner, and the combination of payment mechanisms, such as virtual credit cards (v-cards) and early payments, can become more effective through adoption and scale, through such a unified approach that extends the capability of procurement and finance (AP) functions. For Coupa, specifically, this concept falls under the domain of its vision for full business spend management (BSM) which may sound like jargon on the surface, but has some real merit as you unravel the marketing behind it and get into the actual solution.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Coupa’s approach to payments in particular is that the provider has identified the payment process gaps where it can generate better value to the business, rather than just satisfy an operational activity such as payments to suppliers or the reimbursement of expenses to employees.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Coupa Pay — what it is, how it works and where it stands out from competitors.

Many Fintechs Still Rely on Bring-Your-Own-Bank Strategy for Supply Chain Finance

Today, banks are by far the dominant player in providing supply chain finance, and do so in four ways. And many Fintechs that offer source-to-pay (S2P) and other supply chain collaboration solutions still have a strategy of using their clients’ house banks for supply chain finance. While it makes things easy if the customer can bring their own bank, it does not come without risk.