Coupa teams up with Nvoicepay to automate payments

Profile picture for user pwainewright By Phil Wainewright May 16, 2017
Coupa Payments launches today to automate global payments in partnership with Nvoicepay and eliminate paper from another aspect of spend

Dollars flying into digital globe © fgnopporn -
(© fgnopporn -
Procure-to-pay provider Coupa is marking the opening of its annual conference today with the launch of an automated global payment solution powered by partner Nvoicepay. Branded as Coupa Payments, the cloud-based service fully automates payment processes and enables all payments to be made electronically, including international payments in 140 currencies.

Nvoicepay claims that customers save on average 75% of the cost of paper-based payments when they switch to electronic payments using its software. Whereas traditional e-payment solutions from banks can only handle card-based payments, Nvoicepay handles all payments electronically, settling invoices by card, ACH, i-wire or by mailing an electronic-paid check, using whichever is the lowest cost payment method for each supplier. CEO Karla Friede explains:

Nvoicepay does payment automation. We're transforming the massive effort that goes into paying accounts payable invoices. We take the payment file from any accounting system and make the payments on behalf of our customers, in the most beneficial method possible.

We give the customer visibility and control over that payment. They can set up approval workflows that match the hierarchy in their organization, they can view and control those payments, and they can see them settle.

Global payments

The Coupa Payments announcement emphasizes the system's global payments capability, which is a particular area of pain for most businesses, says Friede, who spoke to diginomica last month.

There's two parts of it. One of them is just that the manual effort is more in international payments. Somebody is going into a bank portal and putting in the payment information one at a time, and then turning around to their accounting system and keying into their accounting system again.

They have no visibility of that payment. If the receiving bank takes a cut of it, it's a different amount received than was sent. There are stories of hunting for payments for two weeks to try to find where the money is, and who has it.

It's both an area of very high inefficiency and very high margins that the banks have charged for years, with extraordinary conversion rates of 150-300 basis points. What banks do is, they give you a low per-transaction fee and that's what people if they don't know any different think they're paying, and they don't realize they're paying an FX conversion rate that's horrible.

High-growth adoption

Nvoicepay launched its service in 2009, building its technology on Microsoft's Azure cloud, which gave the business a much lower cost base and more flexible infrastructure than competing solutions, says Friede. Its first customer was in the automotive industry and it has since branched out into construction, medical, retail, restaurants, manufacturing, non-profits, government and various other sectors, most notably technology and cloud.

Customers that are in technology are more likely to look around and say, why am I doing all this paper-based processing? Especially technology companies that are fast growing, because those are the ones that are making resource decisions on headcount. Nobody wants to add headcount to accounts payable to grow. So technology companies that are high-growth are some of the fastest adopters of our solution.

Another characteristic of early adopters is when a new CFO comes in. The first thing they do is, they look around at all the paper and they say, there's got to be a better way. We see that across industries.

Coupa partnership

Nvoicepay has been a Coupa partner and was a launch partner last year in the CoupaLink ecosystem platform, providing a "seamless seamless end-to-end workflow" between the two systems. The Coupa Payments launch brings further alignment of the data process and customer experience. Friede says strengthening the partnership was the logical next step.

I'm excited to be working with Coupa. I think they're a great company. What I like about Coupa is their focus on the customer value — 'What have we delivered in savings for our customer?' I love that.

Adding Coupa Payments further extends the footprint of Coupa's offering, according to Donna Wilczek, vice president of strategy and product marketing at Coupa:

Payment automation completes the final mile of the Procure to Pay process and allows us to now offer a fully automated Procure to *Paid* solution.

My take

I'm constantly astonished at how many B2B payments are still processed by paper check in the US. The amount of time and resource that's squandered on accounts payable verges on the scandalous. So it's a pleasant surprise to see Coupa teaming up so closely with Nvoicepay to extend its mission to eliminate the scourge of paper from every aspect of spend.