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Upgrading corporate T&E solutions for the new normal

While corporates in many parts of the world are still in lockdown and working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, technology companies that provide corporate expense cards and platforms have seized the opportunity to upgrade their offerings in preparation of the businesses opening up again in 2021.

The latest example of this comes from corporate travel and entertainment (T&E) management platform TripActions, which has announced new integrations between its payments and expense platform, TripActions Liquid, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. 

The pre-built integrations for NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage Intacct, SAP, Xero and others are available now to help CFOs and their teams unlock their organisation’s often siloed payments and expense data in real time.

“In an era where many CFOs are focused on their organisation’s path to business and economic recovery, having complete visibility and control over travel and spend management has never been more critical,” noted Thomas Tuchscherer, CFO at TripActions. “That visibility and control over spend positions finance teams to accurately plan, budget and forecast, while also helping to quickly and accurately close the books at month-, quarter- and year-end.”

“This integration automates and integrates T&E and ERP data to help finance teams experience an entirely new level of visibility over financial data,” added Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Liquid. “An automated link with ERP systems will improve analytical capabilities and provide executives with true spending intelligence across the greater organisation.”

TripActions Liquid integrates with a broad suite of ERP systems to ensure all business spend data within the cloud-based corporate T&E platform seamlessly flows into an organisation’s ERP system of choice. This includes business payments, expenses and the appropriate accounting and general ledger codes. The integrations are designed to eliminate the need for traditional expense management, the expense report and time wasted by finance and accounting teams on manual reconciliation. With a single swipe of the TripActions Liquid card, the entire expense management process is automated from categorisation to compliance, passing a single reconciled report directly into the ERP system.

The vendor notes that integrations between TripActions Liquid and ERP systems deliver the following benefits to corporates:

  • Quick and simple implementation: TripActions Liquid’s pre-built connectors let finance teams get up and running quickly, safely and efficiently with their preferred ERP system.
  • Increased accuracy and time savings: Finance teams can automatically assign expenses and ledger codes in TripActions Liquid to map directly to their ERP system - saving time and preventing errors.
  • Enhanced data visibility: All TripActions Liquid transactions seamlessly flow into the ERP system for a centralised view of financial data in one system, letting finance teams make informed business decisions as expenses are actually incurred rather than when they are submitted, reviewed and approved as a traditional expense report.

Corporate virtual cards hit the UAE

Aside from the TripActions announcement, in the UAE, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has partnered with Visa to launch a suite of digital payment solutions for corporate clients. The launch unveiled a Central Travel Account solution, designed to make it easier for companies to centrally manage travel payments by consolidating and matching key travel data with transactional financial data. This should help corporates in tracking and managing their travel spends and enable them to produce detailed reports highlighting savings.

FAB also unveiled the first Visa Virtual Corporate Cards in the UAE, supported via Visa’s Payables Automation (VPA) solution, to address payment challenges in business-to-business (B2B) payments.

Offered as part of FAB’s ongoing commitment to meet the evolving needs of each customer segment, VPA is designed to deliver transaction processing and remittance posting of virtual card payments to suppliers. It benefits businesses by saving time, reducing labour costs, improving cash flow, and providing better security against fraud. The VPA solution has features that make it an effective alternative payment method, such as configurable authorisation controls, single use accounts and a flexible technology integration approach.

Digital business payments platform targets expense management

Barclaycard also recently upgraded its business expense management offerings, as Barclaycard Payments launched phase one of Barclaycard Precisionpay Go, an online platform designed to allow companies to issue virtual cards, powered by Visa, to employees for business payments online. The functionality also aims to support workforces to continue operating smoothly during an era of remote working.

Available to both new and existing Precisionpay customers, the platform will allow companies to issue virtual corporate cards and manage corporate spending through a mobile app, instead of online or via the traditional means of bank transfer. Employees can create their own cards or request cards to be issued to them via their mobile phone, enabling staff to make business payments instantly, without needing to go into the office or even be at their desk.

With Barclaycard research showing that 63% of employees are responsible for filing their own expenses, Barclaycard Precisionpay Go will help save employees time. The platform replaces systems that rely on manual processes, with a streamlined alternative that gives both employees and employers increased flexibility. The cards will be powered by Visa and, crucially, can be issued for just the amount required, and for a specified period of time, while spend controls can be added to manage user activity on a daily basis.

Barclaycard adds that the solution will allow businesses to:

  • Resume control while working remotely: Instead of issuing a physical corporate card to everyone in the company, the platform allows employers to deploy a different virtual card for each payment made, or a group of payments for a specific trip - ideal for those working from home.
  • Increase visibility of business payments: Traditionally, businesses don’t have view of company spending until after the expenses have been submitted. By implementing Barclaycard Precisionpay Go, businesses will have visibility of spending as soon as a payment is made.
  • Save time and increase efficiency: On average, it takes eight days to deliver a physical card to an employee, and even longer with staff working from home. This solution allows a virtual card can be issued within just two seconds from being requested.
  • Capture valuable data: Businesses can add custom data fields to be populated by the employee each time a card is requested. Users can also upload receipts via the mobile app, which can be viewed alongside transactional information in the accompanying reporting platform SNAP.
  • Reduce environmental impact: By implementing virtual cards and digital processes, companies are able to reduce plastic and paper usage by removing unnecessary plastic and making their transactions virtual.

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