Hug a Payment Facilitator, Save A Tree

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Payment facilitators are helping to save the planet.

By enabling electronic and mobile payments for all sorts of markets – like lunch money and rent and race registrations– that used checks and cash before, less paper is being used, and less paper needed means more trees left standing to produce more oxygen. That’s not a stretch at all.

One such example of a new marketplace is Bill.com, which allows small- and medium-sized companies to electronify the entire accounts payable and accounts receivable process, chopping waiting times for both parties using it. And while Bill.com facilitates payments, it is not a payment facilitator, also not a stretch.

The days of sweaty salesmen with POS terminals in their backpacks going door to door offering lower rates are clearly as dead as felled timber.

For debit and credit card transactions, Bill.com allows its accounts receivable users to accept credit payments through its relationships with Vantage Card Services and PayTrace.

“Bill.com and Vantage are integrated so that any invoices paid by credit card in Vantage flow into Bill.com and then into your accounting system,” said Tanya Roberts, vice president of accountant and corporate marketing.

According to Roberts, among the benefits of the card-enabling relationship for Bill.com merchants is that Vantage and Bill.com subscriptions are month-to-month; Bill.com clients get access to payment consultations with specialized advice on best practices, payment policies, Visa large ticket registration and more, and Bill.com clients receive Level 3 payment processing technology that eliminates PCI compliance challenges using tokens and secure off-site card data storage.

Here are the ways Bill.com could have offered card payments for its merchants:

a) Payment Gateway only: sign up with the merchant provider of your choice with the software company offering multiple payment gateways and taking an active or passive role in merchant referral;

b) ISO: sign up with Bill.com to become a merchant;

c) Payment Facilitator: Bill.com is the merchant of record but facilitates the payment for the sub merchants;

d) Merchant of Record: the consumer pays Bill.com and that’s handled in its system.

Thousands of accountants nationwide are now in effect, payments salesmen, using Bill.com for client payments.  Bill.com dramatically reduces the time spent on traditional bookkeeping because, Roberts says, accounting professionals can use the same accounts payable and accounts receivable process and workflows for all clients, regardless of their accounting software.

“Historically, accountants have had to print out checks, and shuttle them back and forth for client signatures,” she said. “This time-consuming, inefficient approach ends with Bill.com.”

Furthermore, says Roberts, the most common way for companies to handle accounts payable is to print out checks using accounting software.  Those checks have to be matched with remittance paperwork and mailed to vendors.  Then, copies need to be filed.  It can be a time-consuming, tedious task.

“Roughly 10 to 20 percent of the SMB market uses online banking, but these transactions then often have to be manually re-entered into their accounting software,” Roberts said. “Business online banking also lacks remittance info such as matching the payment to a particular invoice.  With online banking, there are no automated approvals and no electronic document management.  The current SMB online banking solutions are just not optimized for SMB customers.”

Bill.com is a cloud-based payments service that reduces the time it takes to process accounts payable payments by more than 50 percent and helps businesses collect receivables two to three times faster.  The service syncs with accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, Netsuite and Intacct.

Bill.com founder Rene Lacerte sold his first successful startup, PayCycle, to Intuit.  While running PayCycle, Lacerte realized there had to be a better way to run the whole accounts payable process and found it by leveraging the cloud to automate the work flow.  He founded Bill.com in 2006, and launched the accounts payable service soon after.  He later decided automating the entire cashflow cycle –payables and receivables – offered more benefits, so he introduced the accounts receivable service.

Roberts says this is how accounts payable works:  Bills are automatically sent to a paperless inbox for processing.  The user clicks to link to process the payment, confirming the account coding, payment terms and timing.  Then, the payment is automatically routed for approvals.

“When it is time to make the payment, you simply click a button and you’re done,” she said. “Bill.com processes the payment either electronically via ACH or with a check if the vendor is not yet set up for e-payments.”

Bill.com accounts receivable uses pre-designed invoices that available for customization and can be completed with a few clicks.  Invoices are sent to customers. Users can see when a customer receives and views the invoices.  Automated payment reminders help reduce collection headaches.  You can even set Bill.com up for auto-invoicing and/or auto-payments, sort of like accounts receivable on auto-pilot.

Roberts explains the draw of Bill.com, besides its user-friendliness: Obviously every company has to pay bills and receives payments, and Bill.com targets six million U.S.-based employers. Once a business is large enough to have employees, automating payments becomes a cost-effective way to save time and money.

She says Bill.com syncs with accounting software such as QuickBooks so payment info is never entered twice.  Unlike online banking or printing out checks, Bill.com automates approval workflows.  Once a bill is entered, it is immediately forwarded through the approval process.

The service keeps a complete audit trail with date-time stamps for every step of the payment process.  Bill.com also includes electronic document management at no additional cost.  Every contract, invoice and other paperwork associated with payments is electronically filed.

There’s no more paper with Bill.com, only more trees

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