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Investment in financial services technology is at an all time high. A recent report by Accenture stated that global investment in financial  technology ventures tripled between 2013 to 2014, reaching $12.21 billion.  The growth of mobile and cloud computing provides the opportunity to disrupt the existing financial industry.

Today, a majority of the buzz has centered on replacing credit cards with mobile payments at retail terminals. However, one of the hardest aspects of business, especially for small companies, is getting paid. Services, such as Bill.com, focus on alleviating this challenge. Bill.com currently supports 600,000 members that process over $20 billion of payments annually. Three of the top ten U.S. banks and over forty percent of the top 100 accounting firms use its platform to offer digital payments to their customers. In February, the company raised $50 million to grow its payment network. Why payments you ask? It’s still a largely untapped market.

According to René Lacerte, CEO and Founder of Bill.com, businesses pay seventy percent or more of their bills via paper checks. A 2013 Federal Reserve study revealed there were 21 billion checks processed in 2013 and roughly 19 billion of those were business to business payments. A majority of consumers use credit cards to process payments, but the three percent interchange fee is a deterrent for most business payments.

Clearly there’s an opportunity to move payments into the digital age and mobile may be just the vehicle to drive change. Bill.com saw this opportunity and launched its first app for iOS today with an Android version following in the coming months.

The app allows Bill.com customers to review and pay bills. The simple app dashboard provides an overview of the most important items related to billing such as bills that are due today and overdue. The mobile app allows the user to collaborate on the bill with their team members by adding notes. It also shows where a bill is within the approval process. According to Bill.com “ Users can view payments and make informed payment decisions while on the go, thereby saving up to 50% to 70% of the time it would normally take to manage the same tasks with traditional bookkeeping.”

While consumer apps may be simple, making business transactions simple and seamless on a mobile app can be a challenge. For example, Lacerte noted that before a company approves or pays a bill, a person might review the last few bills, research who’s approved these bills in the past, or cancel a payment since it’s been paid twice. All of this information has to be available in a way that is easy for the user to discover and consume.

In addition, one of the keys to success for any cloud company is to become embedded within complimentary services from other companies. In January, Bill.com announced a payment service for NetSuite N +1.05% called SuiteApp that allows users to pay bills by clicking one button within NetSuite. As a result, users no longer have to print checks or upload electronic payment (ACH) files to their banks’ websites. Bill.com also has partnerships with accounting firms Intuit INTU +0.05% and Xero . Integrations like these are valuable because it allows a company’s employees to stay within the context of a their current workflow, such as CRM, while completing other tasks, such as bill payment.

In my opinion, there are three phases of mobile usage within a business. The first is extending parts of existing business workflows to mobile. The second is using mobile to enhance a business process with new data and functions, such as image capture and location.  In the third phase, companies will use mobile to transform business processes.

Bill payment is an essential Mobile 1.0 app, because it extends an existing function to mobile, making it available anytime, anywhere.  It eliminates paper, provides better visibility into liabilities and receivables and streamlines the payment process. People like mobile apps because they provide what I call right-time experiences, a clean and simple user interface that delivers direct access to the right information, exactly when they need it. Every company, regardless of size, should evaluate its existing payment solution. It’s time to move this essential process into the twenty first century with a mobile and cloud aware service. 

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