No one escapes digitisation. With new regulations being introduced constantly and Faster Payments becoming the norm for consumers and business alike, the drive towards the modernisation of payments using cloud technology is a reality for many organisations.

According to Bottomline Technologies’ 2018 UK Business Payments Barometer, 56% of businesses have adopted real-time or faster payments for regular business payments, an increase of 12% from last year. Add in transformational shifts like Open Banking, PSD2 and new API-driven solutions, and it’s clear that there’s a tremendous appetite for organisations to ready themselves for the digital economy.

So how does one prepare to take advantage?

By capitalising on new technology and making sure that the basic building blocks of success are in place, namely cloud technology and security. Let’s take a look at how these two fundamental elements impact an organisation’s ability to achieve ultimate success in today’s payments landscape.

Stepping into the cloud

The UK Payments Barometer research shows a 33% year on year increase in cloud migration by businesses surveyed. It’s encouraging to see that organisations of all sizes are steadily moving away from installed software and some of the outdated perceptions about cloud technology, particularly around security concerns, ditched in favour of the numerous benefits cloud has to offer.

Cloud technology gives unlimited compute and store power. It can pull together real-time visibility, providing insight into an organisation’s data and its’ financial position, which makes for improved decision making. The cloud offers flexibility, enabling companies to focus on their business growth without the burden of having to always manage 24×7 IT capacity planning and disaster recovery processes. These are worries that distract from core business, commoditised items that are best managed by outsourced cloud solution providers.

When businesses make the switch to cloud-based technology, they can leave behind expensive upgrades, unused backups and license fees – all of which ultimately drives significant cost savings. Additionally, the move to the cloud enables businesses to save time by eliminating system downtime and removes the need for on-premise software updates, infrastructure, maintenance and regression testing.

These benefits could not be more evident as when they are applied to the world of business payments. If not already on the agenda, competitive businesses need to consider how cloud-based solutions can better simplify and automate their payment processes. For example, some cloud-based solutions offer finance teams the ability to securely upload, validate, approve, submit and manage payments and collections from anywhere at any time on a variety of devices with a focus on following operational policy and procedure rather than infrastructure uptime and support.

Suitable for organisations of all sizes and complexity, the cloud is fully scalable and grows with businesses while also offering significant security and compliance benefits as well. For instance, cloud payment solutions allow for the simple click-on of new services as they roll out and organisations only pay for the volume of transactions processed. Such solutions offer comprehensive reporting and audit trails of all transactions processed and files submitted, providing unparalleled flexibility, control and visibility into businesses.

Securing your payments

Organisations are in the vortex of a changing compliance and regulatory landscape, which is increasingly soaking up budgets year on year. Simultaneously, fraud concerns continue to rise. The UK Business Payment Barometer reveals a 169% year on year increase in the concern of internal payment fraud since 2016. The two most significant growth areas are the internal exploitation of systems and controls (13% in 2016, 35% in 2018) and external exploitation of internal staff, up 15% in two years.

While little can be done to entirely eradicate payment security threats that plague companies, steps can be taken to mitigate risk. Smart organisations are increasingly choosing to transfer and share the legal risk and compliance to outsourced partners such as bureaus or Fintechs. This is a convenient and cost-effective way to eliminate the overhead and burden of dealing with growing risk and compliance issues. This may explain why the research found that fraud prevention topped the list as one of the biggest drivers for companies choosing to move to the cloud.

The digital economy has already been embraced by individual consumers and is moving quickly into the business world. Regulators are blessing the progression toward cloud technology, making competition even fiercer. The good news is that the ability to modernise, apply new industry updates and drive efficiencies is well within the reach of every organisation given the new technology consumption models now on the market. Given the volume of regulatory changes in the payments industry and the rapid progression of cloud technology, all organisations need a cloud consumption strategy to compete in the future. It’s just a matter of taking the first step in your digitisation journey by choosing the right long-term partnership to learn and grow.

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With over 20 years’ experience in the payments sector, Ed is responsible for driving the strategic development and execution of the payments business segment for the EMEA line of business. Having worked at leading IT software and service companies for projects in over 30 countries, Ed has held a number of global strategy, product and client management roles with PwC, First Data Corporation, Pepper Consultants and Hewlett-Packard. Ed is passionate about helping financial institutions and corporates to better power and protect their payments and financial messaging.