ACH has steadily grown, while check payments are declining. Seventy-eight percent of organizations use ACH for some vendor payments. And while 82 percent of organizations still make some payments by check, according to a survey by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), the volume of checks by businesses has been steadily declining. According to the Federal Reserve, in 2010, the commercial check volume included 7.7 billion items. The volume in 2020 was 3.7 billion items, a decrease of more than 50 percent. The long-predicted but prolonged demise of the check continues, if not apace. Checks gradually are being replaced by electronic payments of various kinds, including ACH. And the replacement rate appears to have jumped in the pandemic. This month NACHA reported that the ACH Network experienced significant growth in 2021, including 5.3 billion B2B payments valued at $50 trillion. That B2B ACH payment figure is a 20.4 percent increase since 2020. According to the AFP survey, more companies accept payment by check than use checks to make payments. AFP posits that this is a positive sign for electronic payments. NACHA also launched Same Day ACH five years ago, and it has grown exponentially since. ACH has become common. What Does This Mean for...

With the pandemic-driven shift to remote work, many organizations moved more check payments to electronic formats, primarily ACH. That has necessitated vendors providing organizations with bank account information. Criminals, of course, go where the money is. And in the hasty shift to more electronic payments and, therefore, more vendors sharing bank account information, many organizations have not managed to include adequate protection of vendor banking information. Despite being parasitic, fraudsters are entrepreneurial and quick to exploit new opportunities afforded by changes in payment practices. But, of course, ACH is not new, so plenty of bad guys were already prepared and waiting for more opportunities to exploit. But what exactly is the problem, and what can organizations do about it? Organizations are not securely handling vendor bank account information. They rely too much on email communication and are not verifying sources or account numbers. The most significant risk connected to electronic payment fraud is when an existing vendor changes its account information, which, on average, is every four years. Vendor bank account changes are a common occurrence across your vendor data. So why is that a problem? Because criminals may get into your email system or one of your vendors' email systems, typically through...

Do you have controls on managing vendor information and the vendor master file? Do you follow them? Experienced managers will say, "Duh." However, others can use a reminder, so here it is. “With commerce comes fraud,” says Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), in its 2020 Report to the Nations, estimates that organizations lose five percent of revenue each year to fraud. Five percent! Billing and payment tampering schemes top the list of asset misappropriation. As a recent example, in October, the Justice Department arraigned an Atlanta man in connection with an international cyber-fraud scheme that resulted in companies sending huge payments to fraudulent bank accounts. The companies thought they were paying their vendors. How did it happen? The perpetrators sent phishing emails to victim organizations in the U.S. and Europe, stealing employee access credentials, which enabled them to harvest credentials on computer servers. Some of the emails reportedly contained links to a spoofed Microsoft web page where logging in turned over credentials to the criminals. With stolen credentials, the perpetrators then sent emails to other employees of the targeted organizations with invoices that appeared to be from the organizations' vendors. The invoices requested the company make invoice...

Several important factors are involved in vendor onboarding, but these can make an inefficient process. Onboarding begins, naturally, with the collection of the requisite information. How an organization collects vendor data touches on accuracy versus error, completeness, privacy and security. An organization must validate vendor data to meet compliance requirements and ensure accuracy of the data, from contact information to bank account and tax identification numbers. And it must have an effective process to obtain and verify vendor data as efficiently as possible. Effectiveness and efficiency, in this context, achieve the goals of complete and verified vendor information with little or no wasted time and energy. Therefore, organizations should analyze and optimize their vendor onboarding processes to secure and validate the necessary data, minimizing errors and effort and avoiding delay and rework. How to Onboard More Efficiently A well-designed, consistent, manual process is more efficacious than a haphazard or piecemeal approach. But such is the nature of the process that avoiding a piecemeal approach is challenging. Multiple input channels and lag times between tasks hamper efficiency and even thoroughness. There are, however, well-designed vendor onboarding solutions that drive the process from data collection to workflow and deliver much greater efficiency. Such a system provides an...

Compared to IRS Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, completing and filing IRS Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC is easy! But now Form 1042-S filers have help. The IRS has announced the launch of a new online tool that enables “withholding agents” (that would be accounts payable departments, among others) to run a data quality review before filing their 1042-S forms to the IRS. The tool does not replace filing 1042-S forms—you must still submit the forms to the IRS by the March 15 deadline. But this new tool, offering a quality review of your 1042-S data, can help you identify and correct data errors as you prepare your forms for filing. Use of the tool is voluntary, but the IRS notes that it will consider its use by a filer when the IRS is "making enforcement and penalty determinations." So, consider running your 1042-S data through the tool. The tool is designed to accept Form 1042-S data in standard file formats that most back-office systems can generate. After uploading the data, the user will receive a report indicating errors and potential errors. The IRS also notes, “Even though the tool identifies data errors, the withholding agent remains responsible for making...

As companies chase down vendors' missing taxpayer identification numbers (TINs), it is helpful for the master file or AP staff to know what they are looking for.  If the TIN is wrong, it might not be immediately apparent. But if the TIN is "obviously incorrect," as the IRS calls it, the IRS treats it the same as if there is no TIN. That redounds to your company. The IRS treatment of "obviously incorrect" TINs and missing TINs is the same. And the IRS treats you to the same penalty for submitting them! Now you cannot necessarily tell if a vendor has given you an incorrect TIN that is in the correct format, but you can tell if a vendor gives you a TIN that is what the IRS refers to as “obviously incorrect.” How? By knowing the structure of the various kinds of TINs. Here is what you need to know. TIN Types There are several types of TINs, but there are three relating to vendors. The first is the social security number (SSN), used by individuals, single-owner LLCs and sole proprietors. Second, the employer identification number or EIN is used by partnerships, corporations, many LLCs and may also be used by a sole...

In the fourth quarter, accounts payable personnel must start planning for annual payment information reporting responsibilities, also known as 1099s. If you follow this newsletter regularly, you know what that entails. However, if you are new to 1099s or accounts payable (AP), here is essential information. Organizations, including not-for-profits as well as businesses, must report certain payments made to individuals and entities. There are many details on just what you must report. (A place to start is the Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC.) But our focus today is on obtaining the information you will need from your payees to comply with the reporting requirements, and the best way to do that is IRS Form W-9. What is Form W-9? Form W-9 is an IRS form for requesting and documenting tax-related information from vendors, specifically a vendor's legal name, tax identification number (TIN), and tax classification. Tax classification means what type of entity the vendor is, for example, a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation. That information is vital in determining whether your payments to it are reportable to the IRS. Now, if you follow best practices recommended by VendorInfo, you are gathering W-9s (and W-8s for non-resident aliens/foreign payees) at the start of the vendor...

Business buyers and sellers have personal lives, and their experiences as consumers have set up expectations in their professional worlds. Modern technology has led to a redefining of customer experience, which has become central to business transformation and a differentiator for success. All this began with technology-based companies like Amazon setting a very high bar in customer experience. And both your purchasing department personnel and your vendors' personnel have developed expectations based on their Amazon and other similar experiences. They bring these expectations to the workplace, which accounts payable must recognize. Meeting or failing to meet expectations affects vendor relations. Salesforce Survey Says A major survey by Salesforce finds that expectations among business buyers exceed those of consumers. In the Salesforce study, 81 percent of business buyers say that the experience a seller provides is as important as its products and services (versus 79 percent of consumers). And 69 percent of business buyers "expect an Amazon-like business buying experience." In contrast to this, however, only 27% of business buyers say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall experience. So there's room for improvement! Vendors, like buyers, have the same experiences as consumers and bring the same kind of expectations to business. For...

It’s late September and time to plan for 1099 reporting for 2021. That means checking your vendor master for missing taxpayer-identification numbers and classifications and formulating a plan to collect and verify them by the end of the year. It also means preparing for this year's form changes. Last year saw changes to the 1099-MISC along with the re-introduction of form 1099-NEC to report non-employee compensation. This year's changes may be minor by comparison. Nevertheless, it's possible to get confused by the changes, and you need to get them right. So here they are. Form 1099-NEC Remember, now non-employee compensation payments are reported on the 1099-NEC. But last year payments made under section 6050R of the tax code, which addresses payments for fish to an individual “in the trade of catching fish,” were reported on the 1099-NEC Box 1. This year, you won't report those payments on the 1099-NEC but the 1099-MISC in Box 11. Box 1 of the 1099-NEC is for reporting non-employee compensation, excluding 6050R payments. Also, if you made sales valued at $5,000 or more for resale to a person you can report it on the 1099-NEC. Mark an "X" in Box 2 on the 1099-NEC. The sales here refer to...

The arm of the law is not only long but patient and painstaking. This month, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a former account manager for Swedish telecom giant Ericsson with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The one-time Ericsson employee facilitated the payment of $2 million to two high-ranking officials in Djibouti between 2010 and 2014. The charges come 21 months after a subsidiary of LM Ericsson pleaded guilty on a charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, and Ericsson itself paid more than $1 billion for this and other violations. So what exactly is the FCPA, and what does it have to do with accounts payable? The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) is a federal law against bribery and false accounting. And bribes, like every other payment outside of payroll, exit the organization through accounts payable (AP). It is illegal for U.S. citizens and companies to offer a foreign official anything of value to gain an unfair advantage or influence business decisions. And FCPA’s accounting provisions make it a criminal offense to falsify books and records and fail to maintain internal controls. False Contract and Invoices In the Djibouti case, an Ericsson account manager participated in...

Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.


Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.


Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!


Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.


Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.


Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.


Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.


Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!


Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.


Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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