Too much of a good thing can be a problem, at least when it comes to business-to-business electronic payments. While there are only a few standard ways to make payments electronically – Federal wire, automated clearinghouse (ACH) or purchasing card – these methods are impractical for many business transactions because they don’t convey much information other than who, when and how much. A business needs to know more, such as the invoice number, whether the invoice was paid in full, and to which account to credit the payment.
That’s where electronic invoicing and bill presentment (EIBP) comes in, but a variety of vendors and incompatible technologies makes it difficult for a company to decide on any one EIBP system – especially when its business partners may pick a competing one.
“Competing vendors are not talking to each other,” says Pete Lambert, a vice president of treasury services at Wachovia Corp. in Winston-Salem, N.C. “You’ve got different file formats. As a customer comes in to [the vendor’s Web site] to review their bills, you have different downloads into their accounts payable systems.”