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On the lookout: B2B payments trends in 2019 (part 1)

We’re well into 2019 now, and the payments industry is as ready as ever to start racing towards a better way to make business-to-business (B2B) payments.

In the last year, we’ve seen many new  developments, including a larger adoption of ACH and virtual cards, steps to make cross border payments faster and easier, and many partnerships between fintechs and incumbents, including ours with Visa to create Billtrust’s Business Payments Network. All of these are helping remove roadblocks and signaling for an exciting year ahead.

And while much progress is being made in the space, the work is far from over. With that in mind, over the next couple of  weeks, we’re going to cover some exciting developments and trends that you should be on the lookout for in 2019. So let’s dive in!

Hands working on a laptop screen with an symbolic lock image floating above

Increased security is #1 on the payments wish list

Between 58% and 68% of respondents in the CFO Insights report rated transaction security the most important attribute of a payments solution. Combine this with the 78% of B2B businesses in 2017 that experienced attempted and/or actual payments fraud, and it should be easy to see why payments security is at the top of everyone’s wish list for 2019.

Cyber attacks and fraud are an unfortunate part of a growing digital world, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. As hackers get smarter, threats evolve quicker and security in payments must go above and beyond standard security practices to give customers peace of mind. Luckily, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are ready to do exactly that, and the new year will see an increase in this technology being used to combat security threats.

Many solutions already use AI in automated AR processes by utilizing encryption techniques to secure customers’ information, but unsupervised machine self-learning can also help detect subtle threats and malware that may otherwise go undetected. For example, security controls can now detect unusual or malicious behavior on a computer and determine whether or not it is a threat. If so, the machine can examine its qualities, learn what the threat “looks like,” and use that information to detect similar threats in the future. Ideally, the more the machine learns, the faster it should find and eliminate threats.

As businesses seek more secure digital solutions, virtual cards will also see more use in 2019. Using a regular credit card to make large purchases online can be dangerous for a business. If the card is used frequently for multiple purchases, the browser may store the card’s information online, putting your company’s card at the risk of fraud. Virtual cards eliminate this by providing buyers with a series of numbers that are unique to every transaction. Because the information is one-time-use only, it offers a safer, digital alternative to a physical credit card, while also helping you avoid costly interchange fees.

While AI and virtual cards are great tools to prevent fraud in business transactions, nothing can replace old school common sense. Preventative measures should also be taken across businesses to ensure that no threats get through in the first place. To this day, phishing and malware remain the number one cybersecurity threat to most companies, with the second being employee mistakes. As threats evolve, employees need to be up-to-speed on what to expect, or else costly mistakes will keep occurring. This year should be a year of re-education for employees about what threats look like, how to avoid them, and what to do if information is compromised.

Final thoughts

In next week’s installment of this On the Lookout series, we’ll dig deeper into what the future adoption of AI and analytics will bring to the table when it comes to the world of B2B. See you then!

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