By enabling AP departments to earn money with every supplier payment, virtual cards offer a significant advantage over other payment methods, especially checks. These earnings can really add up – sometimes covering the full cost of an AP automation or payment automation solution, funding other initiatives, or even transforming AP from a cost center into a profit center.
As an added benefit, virtual cards are more secure than other methods, which is becoming increasingly important as the threat from fraudsters continues to grow. For each payment, a random 16-digit number is generated that is authorized for a specific dollar amount and for one-time-use only.
Lastly, compared to corporate credit cards, virtual cards offer much simpler payment reconciliation. According to Bheem Bhatia, VP of Finance of MineralTree customer Quartzy, MineralTree’s virtual card “eliminated the need to perform time-consuming credit card reconciliations each month. Considering Quartzy’s payment volume, our time could be easily consumed reconciling massive credit card statements.”
With all these benefits, virtual cards are becoming the preferred payment method for many finance teams. And the more that they, and you, grow card usage, the greater the earnings and benefits AP can enjoy.
Yet, there are some challenges that companies face with adoption. Some AP departments are concerned that it will mean more work for them, although that is not the case at all. With the right AP automation solution, virtual card payments are built right into the platform, requiring no additional effort or workflow change on your part. The only thing companies have to do is submit the payment as usual, and the payment provider handles the rest, including supplier enrollment and payment processing.
3 easy ways to maximize your virtual card benefits
So, how can you increase virtual card spend to maximize your earnings and benefits? Here are three easy ways:
1. Make sure your provider can handle proxy payments. There are many credit card accepting vendors who qualify for virtual card acceptance in all ways but one: accepting over email. In other words, they can accept one-time-use cards, but they don’t currently have a process or the infrastructure in place to repeatedly accept over email. Most of the time, these vendors prefer to have the payment called in or processed through a customer-facing, online portal. The right payment provider should have a service to accommodate these “proxy” payments so that the available card spend can be captured without any additional work on your end—and while seamlessly accommodating your supplier’s current processes.
2. Ensure continuous enrollment. When it comes to supplier onboarding, don’t opt for a provider that only offers a one-and-done campaign at the onset of the relationship. Sure, the initial campaign is key to getting your virtual card program off to a fast start but by working with a provider that offers continuous or just-in-time enrollment, you can capture virtual card spend from new suppliers. Continuous onboarding is particularly important for biotech and other fast-growing start-ups that are continually bringing on new suppliers. It’s most effective if the payment provider contacts the new supplier before the first payment, when it might be more receptive to a new payment method. If you wait, the supplier may already be comfortable receiving payment through another method, and reluctant to switch. Also, since the supplier is already adding a new customer in its system, it’s easier to change everything all at once.
3. A respectful, collaborative approach involving your AP team. The way suppliers are approached can affect their willingness to accept virtual cards. Some payment providers take an aggressive approach, which can end up impacting a company’s relationship with suppliers. Others take an approach that’s too light and lacks supplier education and a focused effort. The right payment provider should effectively combine the guidance and best practices of their payments team with the inside knowledge and relationships possessed by your AP team. This approach results in a respectful dialogue with the supplier that is geared more towards collaboration than making demands. Due to the processing fees, some suppliers might be initially reluctant to switch to credit card payments in general. However, by approaching them with a balanced effort, vendors are much more receptive to hearing about not only buyer benefits, but supplier benefits as well, including increased payment speed, guaranteed funds, and the ease of having remittance and payment details in one email. Furthermore, for certain high-spend vendors, this can open the door for a trade in value. Even though virtual cards offer same-day delivery, suppliers often find value in reducing net terms from Net30 to Net15, combining fast payment delivery with fast payment initiation.
Reap the benefits of virtual cards while maintaining strong supplier relations
Let’s face it, the rebates and other benefits of virtual cards are just too good to pass up. By partnering with a payment provider who is committed to helping you increase your earnings, while maintaining a positive relationship with your suppliers, you can improve your bottom line and further your business goals. And when it comes to virtual card rebates, the more, the merrier!
Check out our on-demand webinar, “How Virtual Cards are Revolutionizing the AP Process”