What are Electronic Payables (ePayables) Solutions?
In contrast to distributed Commercial Card products (such as P-Cards that are issued to employees throughout an organization), electronic payables (ePayables) are payment systems—epayments—initiated and managed centrally within end-user organizations, usually by A/P. Such solutions are designed to allow end-user organizations to utilize some part of their traditional purchase-to-pay (P2P) processes, especially invoice receipt and approval, prior to payment. However, payments to suppliers typically utilize the card network, like other Commercial Card products.
Following the broad market acceptance of P-Cards in the mid-1990s, ePayables solutions emerged as a complement to P-Cards, targeting additional types of purchases (those that organizations often exclude from a P-Card program, such as inventory). The credit crunch and economic recession (2008 and 2009, in particular), intensified the need for working capital management, sparking an increase in the number of organizations using or pursuing ePayables.
Just as there's no single type of electronic payment, there's no single type or name for these particular payment solutions. ePayables are known by several names: payables automation, push payments, straight-through payments (STP), buyer-initiated payments (BIP), electronic accounts payable (EAP), single-use accounts (SUA) and electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP). Generally speaking, each provider of these payment systems has its own proprietary name for the solution. The functionality of each solution varies.
An organization interested in pursuing ePayables may wish to start the process with its current P-Card issuer, determining what the issuer offers and the related pros and cons. The NAPCP's Annual Global Provider Directory is another option for finding information about many different issuers/providers. It's possible that an organization could implement an electronic payables solution from a provider other than its P-Card issuer. However, if using one issuer for both, the organization may have better opportunity for increased efficiencies and benefits. A 2011 NAPCP poll addressed this topic, asking, "Do you (or would you) use the same provider for P-Cards and electronic payables?" Members and complimentary subscribers, view the poll results, including respondents' comments about the drivers for their decisions.
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