For small and medium-sized businesses still trying to get back on track in the post-COVID economy, getting paid quickly is essential to keeping things moving and stimulating growth. As an expert in emerging financial technology, Priority CEO Thomas Priore knows just how important payment efficiency will be to the ongoing success and future expansion of the SMB sector in 2023. “Inflation hasn’t abated. Wage inflation isn’t going to change its trajectory anytime soon, right?” Priore points out.
While an unreliable cash influx can result in insurmountable financial reversals, when companies have a ready, steady cash flow, they’re better able to disseminate payments in a timely manner, thus ensuring solid relationships with both employees and suppliers — and ultimately, enhanced satisfaction for customers. Navigating these challenges requires savvy solutions.
While Thomas Priore believes the benefits of implementing innovative payment solutions for SMBs are staggering, he warns that the potential setbacks of not updating may be far worse. To stabilize uncertainty, maximize profit potential, and maintain a forward trajectory, Priore has leveraged his experience to formulate a quick, comprehensive guide on what SMB stakeholders must do to optimize their payment technology solutions.
1. To Optimize Payment Efficiency SMBs Must Adopt the Latest Digital Payment Solutions
No matter the size of a company, to survive and thrive, it’s essential to make the best use of resources. SMBs have inherently lean budgets that must be allocated with near pin-point precision to assure ongoing success. Unfortunately, all too often, relying on outdated payment methods has become a frustrating process that undermines the uninterrupted flow of business. Thomas Priore has observed how updating outmoded payment solutions to digital platforms has already shown a substantial return across B2B, B2C, and B2B2C sectors.
As an example, Priore cites the ways in which digital payments are revolutionizing how the construction industry is doing business. To illustrate his point, he uses a hypothetical scenario in which a project manager turns to the latest digital payment solutions to help offset pandemic-related supply chain woes. “The reason he was twofold,” Priore explains. “Number one is, of course, yes, it’s the lifeblood of my business. I want to know what’s coming in.
“But I need to know what’s coming in because acquiring supplies has become much more difficult. So, if I had the cash, I could actually negotiate the purchases to keep my business moving faster because I knew the supply chain would be extended. Having that money was a big benefit.”
Bottom line, Priore says adopting digital payment solutions boosts efficiency, accelerates cash flow, and lowers costs. “If you have to go out and get manual signatures and chase down people to sign the paperwork, then get it emailed over… that’s just time,” Priore says.
“Digitizing the process of lien resolution and invoice presentment helps speed the fund’s disbursement. And the project manager gets the benefit of speed… You keep those folks working and on-site because they’re getting paid fast, which reduces their carrying cost on the back end, right? They’re not paying for money that’s sitting around that they had to borrow to ensure things keep going.”
2. Using Embedded Finance Improves User Experience and Your Bottom Line
The trend toward adopting digital payment solutions is something Thomas Priore has witnessed end to end along the value chain — “From the very largest in construction, down to the very smallest application providers.” Innovative payment tools and platforms are already having a tangible impact on supply procurement and employee payroll across the SMB marketplace. However, as exciting as the promise of accelerated capital influx and streamlined payments may be, Thomas Priore believes they’re only the proverbial tip of the digital solutions iceberg.
On the customer-facing side, the introduction of real-time payments via contactless and mobile technologies have proven to be game changers. The next phase of disruptive technology, embedded finance, is already transforming the SMB landscape. “The opportunity in our sector is to recognize this convergence of payments and banking features being deployed across enterprise software and how businesses manage themselves. That will make it a heck of a lot easier to… be a performer and come out the other end of a less than favorable macroeconomic environment stronger,” Priore said.
More than a simple quid pro quo of payment in exchange for goods or services, embedded finance directly incorporates a payment component into a nonfinancial consumer platform or transaction experience and encompasses everything from digital wallets and accounting software to online shopping carts and customer analytics and loyalty apps.
Thomas Priore says SMBs that avail themselves of embedded finance solutions are rewarded not only with improved financial management capabilities, but valuable insights based on client feedback on the customer-facing side. Armed with these tools, SMBs can adapt their brands to better align with customer preferences, stay on track with emerging trends, and grow their client base.
3. Be Vigilant: Stay Current on Regulations and the Latest in Cybersecurity
Thomas Priore notes that one of the chief challenges to digital payment efficiency is the routine enforcement of strict security standards. As with any platform where money changes hands, cybersecurity — as it applies to safeguarding personal information and the assurance of transactional integrity — is of paramount concern.
While it’s incumbent on consumers to educate themselves, at the end of the day, Priore cautions it’s up to SMBs to take the lead. In order to protect both themselves and their customers, responsible SMBs must implement best compliance practices for payment company transmitter and FDIC guidelines, and also to have advanced cybersecurity measures in place.
As the digital payment paradigm continues to evolve, so too will regulations, standards, and potential security threats. Priore says SMB stakeholders need to keep a close watch on changing rules and regulations by availing themselves of ongoing training and support programs furnished by their designated digital solutions providers. On the tech side, Priore strongly urges SMB owners to take advantage of the improved cybersecurity and anti-fraud capabilities now available from artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, as well as biometric customer identification, near-field communication (NFC), and secure magnetic transmission (MST) technology.
A Final Word on Prioritizing Payment Efficiency in 2023
With AI and other Fintech modalities poised to usher in an ever more immersive integration between user experience and business adaptation, cybercommerce solutions have quickly become the new normal. Thomas Priore believes the trend in digital payment technology will only continue to gain momentum in the coming months — and well beyond. Security risks and counterintuitive procedures inherent in older payment systems are phased out, and SMBs can look forward to faster, smarter solutions that offer improved reliability and scalability as well as enhanced safety features and cutting-edge analytic capabilities.
“There are valuable assets already running through your ecosystem, whatever that may be,” Priore says. “Maybe you’re in the construction space, maybe you’re a restaurant, a salon, and that asset is payment acceleration. Whether you use that to resolve payments to suppliers by accelerating the receipt of cash or whether I’m a restaurant with 6 or 7 locations and want to use modern payment solutions to give every one of my servers and wait staff an account with a debit card attached to it that I can push their tips and their wages to… because that… alleviates people who are under-banked having to go to a payday lender… and I don’t have to have my manager spending time at the end of the shift doing all that type of activity. Those are embedded revenue opportunities inside your system by having modern payment tools.”
Thomas Priore says adopting the latest digital payment solutions, parlaying the power of embedded finance to enhance the client experience and brand focus, and remaining vigilant to regulatory trends and cybersecurity issues will be the keys to continued SMB stability and success going forward. “Modernizing the commerce experience for the people we serve — whether it’s SMBs, whether it’s enterprise customers — I think that’s going to be kind of the takeaway of 2023.”