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Cross-Border Payments Practices Cost Heavily from Fees, Time, and Manual Labor
[September 18, 2018]

Cross-Border Payments Practices Cost Heavily from Fees, Time, and Manual Labor

A new independent study carried out by research and analyst firm PayStream Advisors and commissioned by Tipalti, the leading global payables automation platform, found that the most common practices for managing cross-border payments are neither the most efficient nor the most affordable. Instead, they cost organizations heavily in payment fees, time, and manual labor, and can have negative impacts on supply chains and supplier relationships.

As globalization becomes an ever increasing reality in today's world, organizations are expanding their supplier bases overseas, leading to an increase in cross-border payments. According to the study, 73% of US companies are now making some type of cross-border payments. However, international payment management entails taking on much more effort and risk than domestic payments in terms of compliance with international tax and regulatory requirements.

"To do cross-border payments right, accounts payable (AP) teams must add in several extra steps and controls," explains Anna Barnett, Lead Research Analyst at PayStream Advisors, and lead analyst on this report. "One example is validating payment data accuracy to avoid payment errors. Over 26,000 global rules exist across different regions and payment methods. AP departments must often use multiple bank portals and payment rails to disburse funds across different countries and currencies, and cross-border payments reconciliation typically requires more advanced measures than domestic-only reconciliation."

Some of the key findings from the report regarding complex cross-border payments include:

  • Wire transfer cost and fraud risk: Among organizations making more than 2 percent of their payments cross-border, businesses are overwhelmingly making their international payments using wire transfers. Wire transfers incur high processing fees and are now the second most targeted payment method by fraudsters, but they are sill more reliable than paper checks.
  • Increasing Global ACH usage: PayStream's survey trends over the past two years show that increasing Global ACH usage seems to be more of a priority for companies with higher amounts of cross-border spend. Global ACH also has the added benefit of having much lower fraud exposure than check and wire transfers.
  • No increase in check usage for payments: Regardless of international payment volume, very few organizations are trying to increase the frequency with which they disburse funds via paper check. PayStream sees this as a positive trend, as checks are inconvenient, labor-intensive, and lack security features that more modern payment types provide.
  • Suppliers offering early-payment incentives: Forty percent of companies report that 1-10 percent of their suppliers offer some sort of early payment discount, while 7 percent report that more than 75 percent of their suppliers offer a discount.
  • Rising error levels and longer approval cycles: Because of more time-intensive, complex processes and currency conversion requirements, the more international payments a business processes, the more likely it will suffer from missing information on invoices, a high number of exceptions, and difficulty keeping track of suppliers' payment preferences. Companies with high cross-border payment volume also have longer approval cycles, which limits early payments opportunities.

"The fraud risks and complex international compliance mandates that come with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for cross-border payments mean that companies can't stick with the same time-consuming, error-prone accounts payable operation they often settle for with their domestic payments and still expect to remain competitive," says Chen Amit, CEO and Co-Founder of Tipalti. "Managing complex global payments successfully means implementing the right systems and processes that scale as a company grows and ensure fast, accurate mass payments to suppliers around the world - with minimal effort required by the AP team."

To read the full report, please visit:

About the research

PayStream Advisors surveyed professionals across the United States in over 400 organizations from a variety of industries and market segments for this report.

About PayStream Advisors

PayStream Advisors is a research and advisory firm focused on business process automation in sourcing, supply chain management, procurement, accounts payable, payments, and expense management. PayStream's team of experts provide targeted research and consulting services to address the changing needs of finance and procurement professionals. In short, PayStream is dedicated to maximizing returns and minimizing risks associated with technology investment. PayStream's research reports, white papers, webinars, and tools are available free of charge at PayStream Advisors is a division of Levvel, an IT consulting firm specializing in technology strategy, design, architecture, and DevOps.

About Tipalti

Tipalti is the only global payables automation solution to streamline all phases of the accounts payable workflow in one holistic cloud platform. Tipalti makes it painless for finance departments to manage their entire AP and supplier payments operation. Leading companies use Tipalti to eliminate up to 80% of their supplier payments workload, helping them scale their business efficiently with global growth, while strengthening financial and tax compliance controls. Hundreds of companies trust Tipalti to transform their supplier payment operations including Amazon, Roku, Zumba, Docker, Twitter (News - Alert), Foursquare, GoDaddy, and Vimeo.

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