FinTechTech Q&A: Bottomline Technologies

Tech Q&A: Bottomline Technologies

In the first of our regular series introducing treasury-focused tech solutions providers, we talk to Marcus Hughes, Head of Strategic Business Development at Bottomline Technologies.

Briefly describe your company – what’s your elevator pitch?

Bottomline Technologies helps businesses to pay and get paid. As trusted experts in payments, we provide a comprehensive set of innovative, cloud-based solutions which make it easier for customers to manage many different payment types; from domestic bulk payments and wires, to multi-currency cross border payments and real time payments (24/7).  We also enable customers to manage their cash more efficiently, improving financial performance.

We serve corporates and non-bank financial institutions of all sizes, from small and medium businesses (SMBs) to multi-national corporations (MNCs). Our banking customers span central banks, regulators, global banks, digital banks, as well as non-bank payment institutions. Many of our larger customers, both banks and corporates, use our solutions to access multiple payment systems and global financial messaging networks, such as SWIFT, and to streamline their reconciliation and data transformation needs.

How / why was Bottomline Technologies founded?

Bottomline was founded in 1989 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA by a group of three friends who believed that there must be a better way to make payments simple, smart and secure. This founding principle has remained at the heart of our strategy and rapid growth ever since Bottomline was established. In 2000, Bottomline merged with a like-minded British payments software company, Checkpoint Security Services. This strong market presence and payments expertise on both sides of the Atlantic has been a key success driver for our international expansion into other regions and fast-growing markets, such as Asia Pacific.

What’s the biggest problem you solve for your customers?

We insulate customers from the complexity of payments and make it easy for them to quickly take full advantage of new payments systems, while complying with new regulations and formats. Against the worrying backdrop of increasing cyber fraud, our solutions enable customers to detect and prevent fraudulent payments. Our machine learning and data analytics solutions enable an organisation to monitor transactions and employee behaviour in order to identify any suspicious activity and take preventive action before payment instructions are released.

Our cloud payment and financial messaging solution is highly complementary to any treasury management system (TMS) and integrates comfortably with a wide range of Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP). This platform is particularly well suited to enterprises with multiple ERPs and multiple bank relationships, creating a single platform where all payments can be consolidated and managed in a secure, straight through processed (STP) environment.

The advantage of this platform is that, unlike a TMS, it is generally used not only by the treasury team for wires and cross-border payments, but also by Accounts Payable (AP) Accounts Receivable (AR) teams. This aggregation of all payment activity into and out of an enterprise makes it easier to control and standardise payment processes in a secure and efficient manner, with improved visibility and control. The solution offers multiple layers of security; such as segregation of duty, highly configurable entitlements and workflow, payment data validation, multi-factor authentication (MFA) and encryption of data when at rest and while being transferred.

Before and after: briefly describe what impact your technology or solution would have if a treasury department implemented it tomorrow.

Many businesses today still use disparate payment systems which require manual intervention and re-keying and are exposed to a range of operational risks. Our cloud-based payment solution delivers lower total cost of ownership of a highly secure and flexible payment and cash management capability, which integrates readily with, and makes full use of, existing legacy systems. This will enhance the business’s financial performance and protect it against risk of fraudulent payments, while ensuring compliance with regulations, such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC).

Our intuitive solutions also make it easier to manage cross-border payments, with improved transparency of fees, as well as the ability to track payments and ensure faster settlement times. By enabling our customers to achieve improved visibility of balances and transactions across their multiple bank accounts, they are able to make better use of any surplus cash and minimise borrowing costs. Our highly configurable sweeping and pooling functionality enables businesses to improve their short-term liquidity management quickly and easily.

What’s your added value over competitors?

We are experts in payments and have deep partnerships with many banks. This means we quickly become trusted partners for our corporate, financial institutions and banking customers, delivering innovative and flexible solutions which enable our customers to introduce best practices and future proof themselves against the rapidly changing payment landscape.

We are constantly innovating and enhancing our cloud-based solutions to ensure our customers are ahead of rapidly changing payments schemes. For example, in the UK we have become accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide a comprehensive range of multi-bank payment and cash management solutions for our customers, as part of the major Open Banking initiative. This includes exciting new payment instruments, such as Request to Pay, which will complement Direct Debits and allow greater flexibility for both consumers and businesses in settling their debts. Another exciting new solution is Enhanced Data which will make it easier for businesses to reconcile inbound payments.

Starting in the UK, Open Banking is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon.  As a result, the expertise and experience acquired in our UK business positions Bottomline very well to help our customers as Open Banking schemes are rolled out in other countries.  Another example of our continuous innovation is our partnership with Visa on their B2B Connect initiative which will make it easier for banks to offer corporate customers and exciting new cross-border payment solution, with improved visibility and transparency.

Tell us a bit about what other products you offer.

Treasurers and finance managers can use our financial document automation solutions to manage their cash flow and working capital more efficiently, while improving key performance indicators (KPIs), such as Days Payables Outstanding (DPO) and Days Sales Outstanding (DSO). Our solutions help customers to automate the production and distribution of electronic documents, such as purchase orders (POs) and invoices, as well as streamlining the processing and approval of inbound invoices.

A growing number of our corporate customers are realising that they can no longer simply rely on banks to ensure compliance with AML requirements. Instead, they gain greater peace of mind and mitigate reputational risk by using our cloud-based solutions to screen their suppliers and payment files against multiple sanction lists, such as OFAC, before releasing payment instructions to their banks. This ensures they are not initiating any payments which breach frequently changing AML regulations, while also minimising queries from suppliers who have not received payments which have been held up by banks investigating black listed organisations.  Our easy to use system for creating and up-dating white lists of acceptable payees (such as employees and approved suppliers) is another simple but effective way to minimise the risk of fraudulent payments.

With the rapid growth in recurring payments, Bottomline has become fully accredited to enable small and medium businesses (SMBs) to capture the benefits of Direct Debits, without needing to go through the administrative hoops of becoming sponsored by a bank and managing their own Bacs Service User Number.

Another of Bottomline’s cloud-based solutions is our white-labelled e-banking platform. This is used by hundreds of banks to provide SMB customers with innovative and easy to use payments and cash management services.

If you could share one piece of advice for treasurers, what would it be?

The payments landscape is going through a period of unprecedented change. In order to ensure that you are fully compliant with new requirements and ensure you gain maximum benefit from new schemes and payment instruments, make sure you seek advice from a payment expert. The introduction of New Payments Architecture from 2021 – 2023 will bring about radical changes in the UK payments systems.

Any business which uses Bacs Direct Credits, Direct Debits or Faster Payments will need to modernise their systems in order to make the most of the benefits of these exciting new payments instruments which will be introduced to provide increased security and a better user experience.

Any parting words?

Bottomline’s cloud-based solutions offer treasurers and finance managers innovative and future-proofed solutions which will protect you from fraud, ensure you are compliant with new regulations and enable you to take full advantage of new payments schemes and instruments to improve your business performance.

Quick facts:

  • Employees: 1,800
  • Year founded: 1989
  • Group Headquarters: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
  • Rest of World Headquarters (outside USA): Reading, UK

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