by Ad Van der Poel, Co-head of Product Management, Global Transaction Services EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
After years of working to optimise their payments, corporations are now beginning to centralise their accounts receivable. The arrival of the SEPA Direct Debit – coupled with developments in technology – has presented new opportunities for companies to reduce costs, improve working capital and achieve automatic reconciliation.
From cheques to direct debits and from mobile payments to high-value wires, receivables come in all shapes and sizes – and companies are focusing on all of these different instruments as they work to make their collections processes more efficient.
The current focus on receivables is relatively recent. Historically, companies have paid more attention to accounts payable, which can more readily be centralised using structures such as payment factories, shared service centres and in-house banks. Receivables, on the other hand, have long been regarded as a more local undertaking. While companies have certainly focused on improving the efficiency of their receivables – collecting money is, after all, a crucial step in any company’s business model – most have not attempted to manage receivables on a centralised basis.