WEX Inc., a provider of corporate payment solutions, unveiled the results of a third-party survey conducted to gauge public and private company chief financial officers’ views of the payments processing landscape.
The survey of 500 CFOs around the United States found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) already have an electronic payables initiative underway, while 26 percent are considering one—with 93 percent of those respondents indicating that they are working to launch an electronic payables system in the next six to 12 months.
Further, more than half of respondents (57 percent) are currently outsourcing platforms or technology to perform accounts payable functions.
The data uncovered five key trends:
- It’s not the startups; payment processing companies are most likely to disrupt the industry. When asked which group within the marketplace is most likely to disrupt the payments industry in the next 12 to 24 months, 39 percent of respondents answered payments processing companies, 32 percent believe it will be big banks, and only 16 percent believe it will be FinTech startups.
- Mobile reigns supreme of all the emerging technologies. While respondents overwhelming agree that all new technologies will be important to their business in the next two years, the majority are most concerned with mobile payments and mobile capabilities to manage and approve payments (55 percent), with blockchain a close second (54 percent), followed by cloud payments (48 percent) and data mining (46 percent). Despite the buzz around virtual reality and machine-based learning, these two technologies ranked at the bottom of the list.
- CFOs are confident they understand blockchain. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) are extremely confident in their understanding of the function and capabilities of blockchain or distributed ledger technologies, with 35 percent citing they are somewhat confident. Half of CFOs expect blockchain to change how their account payables operate in the next six to 12 months, and another 44 percent believe it will allow their business to scale more quickly and internationally.
- Ability to transact in international currencies is increasingly important. Nearly two-thirds of CFOs (64 percent) believe it’s very important to their business to be able to transact in international currencies. Notably, companies with annual revenue more than $51 million put extra weight on foreign currency transactions, with more than three-quarters (76 percent) citing this feature as “very important.”
- Customer experience is key when it comes to selecting a payments platform. When asked to check all that apply, 71 percent of respondents cited overall user experience as the most influential criteria for selecting a payments platform, 60 percent cited speed of reconciliation capabilities, and 60 percent also selected reporting analytics.
“It’s interesting to see how top decision makers are thinking about payments in the near future,” said Jim Pratt, SVP and GM Virtual Payments Global, WEX Inc. “The fact that so many CFOs believe the payments processing companies will be the true disruptors is a strong vote of confidence and motivation to continue our research and product development. At WEX, we strive to constantly innovate while providing top-notch customer service, new analytics capabilities and unparalleled payments security.”
When it comes to identifying attributes of a payments provider, 69 percent said customer service was very important, followed by 67 percent citing security and 58 percent seeking knowledgeable IT support.
In May 2017, WEX commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct an online survey of 500 chief financial officers nationwide. Based on a confidence interval of 95 percent, the margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points.