American Express and SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced a joint effort to develop an integrated solution enabling SAP customers in the United States to process electronic payments more seamlessly with American Express.
Through this collaboration, the companies aim to clear roadblocks that can delay or deter corporate adoption of electronic payments, such as high costs of deploying and connecting a myriad of third-party systems.
Companies today use many different system interfaces for electronic transactions between their banking partners' and corporate suppliers' systems as well as between their own enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Often based on a wide variety of protocols, proprietary standards and technologies, these point-to-point interfaces can involve costly custom-developments as well as maintenance costs averaging anywhere from $50,000 to more than $500,000 for large global corporations.
Designed to help organizations drive process efficiencies without the need for large-scale, up-front development investments, the combined solution will feature a "plug-and-play" utility to enable SAP customers to adopt electronic payments quickly and easily. By integrating payments solutions with the underlying technology that powers an organization's business processes, corporations can enhance controls and optimize the timing of their payments, thereby improving their working capital. The integrated solution combines the power of the Buyer Initiated Payments solution from American Express with process integration (PI) technology from the SAP NetWeaver technology platform. PI technology will maintain payment data integrity and the workflows and approval processes that customers are already running on SAP software.
"Corporate clients typically have a fragmented base of treasury workstations, trading systems, accounts payable solutions, payroll processors, and other financial solutions that exchange data internally and externally with banks and corporate suppliers," said Jeanne Capachin, research vice president, IDC Financial Insights, an independent research and consulting company. "More standardization of data and better connectivity between buyers a and suppliers are needed. Recognizing the pain their corporate clients experience managing multiple third-party systems, SAP and American Express are working together to increase ease of use and reduce costs for customers deploying and maintaining payment solutions."
"Automated payment solutions can be critical to companies seeking to save money, but have historically required significant investments in resources and time to implement," said Jaromir Divilek, senior vice president and general manager, American Express Global Commercial Card. "With this joint effort, we will be able to offer SAP and American Express clients a faster and more cost effective way to recognize the benefits of electronic payments.
"With its broad customer base of the world's leading companies, SAP is an ideal partner - one that shares our deep commitment to delivering business value and innovation to customers."
"SAP's global reach and business process expertise in the financial services sector put us in a unique position to help customers ease connectivity with American Express payment services," said Don Trotta, senior vice president and global head of Financial Services, SAP AG. "The collaboration with American Express underscores the proven business value of our software and further upholds our promise to help customers continually tap new potential from their SAP deployments."
As part of the agreement, American Express will license SAP NetWeaver PI technology and SAP will be the first company to deploy the new integrated Buyer Initiated Payments/PI solution. The companies plan to make the solution available in the first quarter of 2011.