Barclaycard – how Precisionpay Hub is complemented by Payment Intelligence

early pay

Last month we wrote about a recent Barclaycard Payments/Oxford University survey in which 500 procurement decision makers across the UK were asked about their procurement priorities. High on the agenda came the need for more data analytics to inform and help steer supplier negotiations and supplier relationship management. The survey revealed that while more businesses are realising the importance of data as part of their negotiation strategy, many still struggle to get access to the right data when they need it.

So we spoke with Marc Pettican, CEO Barclaycard Commercial Payments, to discover more about Precisionpay Hub, which not only smooths the procurement process in terms of payments, but provides a layer of data analytics to help buyers and suppliers get the best outcomes from their negotiations – and more.

The buyer/supplier relationship is appearing way above anything else on the CPO’s priority list, he told us, especially since they care more and more about consumer opinion on how organisations interact with their suppliers. And given that the younger demographic (18 to 34 year olds) are twice as likely to use data and customer portals as the older demographic (55+), data analytics will be in greater demand for supplier negotiations.

One of the reasons why this is the case for younger procurement professionals is a lack of confidence going into a negotiation scenario, owing to lack of information. If they had access to good data, as and when they need it, both parties could benefit from better outcomes. (Although, even with good data, negotiation remains a skill that must be acquired.)

The data they need does exist, we amass data every time we make any digital interaction, but it is its accessibility, and trustworthiness, that is the problem. The Barclaycard Payments offering has been designed to tackle this, and comprises two elements:

Barclaycard Precisionpay Hub – this is the virtual payment platform, or the payment engine that allows payments to flow back and forth between buyer and supplier. It allows a buyer to generate a payment and push it out to a supplier.

“We designed the product in line with client expectations.” said Marc. “It actually originated out of the travel sector, allowing business travel agencies to forwardly pay for flights, accommodation and car hire. Over time, other clients saw the savings in time and efficiency, and requested a similar capability. They wanted their suppliers to be supported on the same platform, able to request payments and upload their invoices which go straight into the buyer workflow for approval and direct payment. So we built out the platform for the B2B procurement space for onward payments to radically reduce the friction and paper trails that exist in their AP processes.”

Precisionpay was built originally as a standalone solution, but many customers, both in travel and B2B, were already running large ERP systems, like SAP or Oracle, and P2P systems, like Coupa, and Amadeus in the travel space. So Barclaycard Payments developed partnerships to forge integration with those organisations to allow customers to operate in their own environment by simply activating Precisionpay through an API connectivity. As Marc puts it “there is no ‘swivel chair’ scenario.

In fact we wrote about how the virtual card system can create value to procurement and finance in an example from Coupa – read here how a real-time secure connection via an app or portal, as part of a unified S2P process, can provide automatic reconciliation of purchases to payments, improve cash visibility, eliminate duplication, reduce late payments, accelerate adoption of supplier financing options and reduce risk.

Barclaycard says it will continue to drive that integration strategy with the many solutions that their customers typically use.

Barclaycard Payment Intelligence (BPI) - this is where, for us, it gets more interesting. To return to the topic of data analytics – this is the complementary payment intelligence solution that sits alongside the Hub.  A suite of data tools that get to the bottom of how an AP file works, pinpointing where there are efficiencies to be made, where there are opportunities to maximise and to identify the inefficiencies.

According to Marc: “Basically, we take the client’s AP data and augment it within the Barclaycard solution using internal and third-party information. We play this back to the buyer with insight they have not had before, highlighting where the concentration of suppliers is for example, or how they are dispersed across segments or regions. In fact we can map their entire AP process.”

Through this, buyers might discover for example that certain suppliers want to be paid in different ways, or different timelines, to improve the efficiency of the account and improve their relationships. It might identify a supplier that is willing to accept early payment in exchange for special discounts. It means byers can have meaningful conversations with suppliers, which could include offering to pay on terms shorter than the agreed 90 days in return for a level of discount. So it can yield results that are good for both the buy and supply side – all underpinned by the Precisionpay Hub.

The use of v-cards (to clarify: virtual card payment solutions are not like p-cards, or charge cards, they are an electronic allocation of a card number per transaction, not per person, allowing greater control and reconciliation) is relatively unique in the market. A number of payment firms have them, but the approach fortified by the whole Precisionpay Hub makes Barclaycard market-leading at the moment. We understand, pre-demo, that similar models don’t have the benefits of filters and dashboards at the backend that drive more data into the hands of the supplier (to access early pay processing for example) and into the hands of the buyer to negotiate better deals.

Our payments analyst Xavier Olivera recently said that the ways in which various vendors make the case for their approach to B2B payments shows us that “one model/size does not fit all!”

Barclaycard’s Precision Hub strategy is to scale and modify the model to cater for the SME market as much as for the larger enterprises – it would appear to have a very broad appeal across all sectors, and is in fact suitable for any Accounts Payable function.

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