UK businesses urged to embrace digital payment systems

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A new study has found that the vast majority of UK B2B companies have made a concerted effort to adopt digital payments, with nearly all of those who haven't confessing the need to modernise their billing, invoicing and accounting systems.

The report from BlueSnap highlights that many businesses in the UK are being held back by overdue invoices and outdated accounts receivable (AR) processes, but that 80% are now using digital payments in some way.

Substandard AR procedures are said to be impacting cash flow, human resources and the acquisition of new talent within the B2B sector. Many business owners reported negative effects on their companies due to relying on outdated AR systems. More than a third told the study that they are unable to forecast cash flow accurately.

Problems with the overall accounts receivable architecture are having an adverse effect on companies trying to move forwards in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic too. Some 81% of senior decision makes told the study they felt the issue was impacting the future of their businesses.

Accounts receivable

Reliance on manual AR processes was seen as the biggest threat to efficiency, with 31% continuing to fax paperwork and 39% posting invoices. Meanwhile, 11% of businesses surveyed said they are still accepting payments in cash and 9% continue to take paper cheques.

The report found that prior to switching to a digital payments setup with automated invoice and billing software systems in place businesses have been wasting up to 11 hours on a single invoice. 

Moving over to digital payment software systems left 28% to believe it would give their company the ability to invest and grow more effectively. Similarly, 24% thought investing in AR automation would lead to winning more business from existing customers. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has opened businesses’ eyes to the until now untold damage of outdated and manual AR processes on cash flow,” said Nikhita Hyett, Managing Director, Europe at BlueSnap. “With the benefits of automating legacy systems now beyond doubt, it’s high time B2B firms overhaul their AR infrastructure to unlock future growth.

While many of the businesses we surveyed consider themselves to be on their digital transformation journey, the B2B arena lags significantly behind the B2C market, where payments innovation is not only welcomed but expected, as consumers come to demand greater flexibility and more ways to pay.”

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.