By shifting business payments from paper invoices to commercial cards, organizations gain myriad benefits, from increased productivity to tightened controls on spending. Yet fear of card misuse keeps many if not most card programs from growing enough to achieve maximum efficiency.
Four out of five commercial card clients recently surveyed by U.S. Bank cited fraud and misuse – real, or perceived – as barriers to growth in their card payment programs. Common countermeasures, such as manual audits of card spending, can be inefficient, error-prone and labor intensive, not to mention expensive.
If ways could be found to reduce the risk efficiently and affordably, payers would feel more empowered to grow their card programs. Fortunately, advances in technology are bringing just such tools to the marketplace.
A new payment analytics tool offered by U.S. Bank enables clients to electronically monitor 100 percent of their commercial card transactions. U.S. Bank Payment Analytics can electronically detect questionable card spending, whether resulting from a lack of knowledge of corporate policy, such as purchasing from an unauthorized merchant, or from intentional misuse, such as splitting a purchase to avoid transaction limits.
This tool transforms an organization’s expense control practices from reactive to proactive; from catching the problem way after the fact, if at all, to doing so in near real time. One of our pilot customers, TMI Hospitality, is addressing issues within five business days of the transaction, before a habit can be established, compared with 45 to 60 days later under their manual auditing process. It is, they told us, a huge time saver.
U.S. Bank Payment Analytics is a “rules-oriented” monitoring engine. Customized rules can be set to flag a variety of parameters, such as prohibited merchants, weekend purchases and the like. This allows card administrators to improve compliance and better manage their card programs while saving money.
In the survey we conducted, about 54 percent of our customers told us they currently audit their card programs manually. The rest do a mix of manual and automation, but no one has the process fully automated. The technology to do that cost-effectively hasn’t really existed until now. Is the market hungry for it? I’d say so. We installed it for 35 customers in the first six weeks of our product launch, and the queue is growing.
Payment Analytics and other card management tools make it easier to coach the workforce to follow organization policies. Just as critically, they provide card managers an extra measure of confidence to expand their card programs and take full advantage of the financial benefits. Organizations need not be forced to choose between efficiency and security. They can have both.
Kurt Adams became president of U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems (CPS) on July 1, 2011. He oversees P & L management for all of the bank’s commercial and government payment system products, including solutions for fuel, healthcare, payables, transportation and travel. He directs overall business planning, budgeting, sales and expense management for an organization that processed more than $48 billion in sales volume in 2011 and employs more than 600-plus people in the United States, Canada and Europe. Visit U.S. Bank’s website to learn more about its products and services.