Bill Payment Software -- man at laptop

Bill Payment Software: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Tired of spending too much time chasing down people to approve paper invoices? Burdened with too many paper checks, invoices and purchase orders scattered around your business? Feeling covered in paper? If so, now may be the perfect time to learn more about bill payment software, how it works, whether it’s secure and whether it will give you more control of your corporate finances.

You’ll get answers to all those questions here. With this guide, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether investing in this software makes sense for your business and whether now is the right time.

What is bill payment software?

Bill payment software consists of a set of coded instructions customized for automating business payment processes from start-to-finish. The software classifies, matches, and verifies invoice and payment data and then forwards that data to your accounting system to be posted.

Conceptually, automated bill payment software functions like the global positioning satellite application on your smartphone.

You type in where you want to go and the software instructs and guides you how to get to every stop, turn and reroute. The best part? You’re in control — but guided to get there faster.

Read more: What is AP Automation Software? What Does it Do? How Does it Boost Your Business?

In a similar conceptual fashion, you load bill payment software into your corporate online network and set it up to handle your specific payment processes. The software guides you through the steps and along the path to your destination: paying your company’s bills. Step by step, the software leads you through this journey.

How does bill payment software work? 

Bill payment software works by managing the customer’s accounts payable process from receiving an invoice all the way to paying suppliers. Simultaneously, the software maintains all the customer’s existing banking relationships and workflows.

By automating this invoice and payment process, customers have 24/7 visibility into payment and approvals. On behalf of those customers, the software provider’s service team manages the suppliers and executes payments.

Importantly, customers can stay abreast of every step of this process such as:

  • logging in to see all pending approvals populating their queues;
  • accessing the invoices at any time from any device connected to the Internet;
  • seeing exact amounts of invoices, how long they’ve been in the queue and who should approve them next;
  • once approved, specifying to whom and when they send payments; and
  • sending payments in the exact way recipients want to receive them such as by electronic payments or checks.

Bill payment software relies on various conditions to execute tasks. For example, if your company’s policy has a rule (condition) that the CFO must approve any invoice above $1,000, the software can identify that and automatically forward that invoice for CFO approval.

Is bill payment software safe and secure?

Bill payment software is safe and secure because it eliminates the threats associated with paper process. The technology stores payment information online and uses security protection technologies to prevent fraudulent attacks.

Using paper to pay bills is inherently unsafe. Fraudsters excel at stealing information off paper checks. And paper can be easily lost or stolen.

Positive Pay, for example, is a service bundled within bill payment software offerings that offers secure financial transactions. Positive Pay alerts bank tellers to fraudulent checks brought to them.

Using this service, a company shares with its bank a list of the payee, check number and dollar amount of every check it processes.

When a person presents a check, the teller automatically compares the list to the check, flags any that don’t match and informs the company.  The company then instructs the teller whether or not to cash the check.

Before Positive Pay existed, fraudsters could more easily cash fraudulent checks because the bank teller didn’t have the list to confirm which checks the company cut. The criminals stole paper checks, erased the check ink and inserted a fraudulent name and different dollar amount.

Is bill payment software worth it? 

Bill payment software is absolutely worth the investment because, unlike paying bills manually, bill payment software reduces the need for people to get do these highly repeatable tasks. This amounts to saved time, resources and money.

Automated bill payment software minimizes data entry and paper invoices, drives consistency in payment processes, securely pays suppliers and controls cash flow.

A Goldman Sachs report revealed that it costs a business $22 to pay a single invoice with a paper check. That’s about 10 times more than the estimated $2 to pay an invoice using bill payment software.

The software also delivers time saving benefits. We learned from Henderson Properties, one of our real estate service customers, that bill payment software shortened payment and invoicing processing times by at least 90 percent.

Read more: 5 AP Software Insights You May Not Know

Whether an electronic payment system is worth the investment boils down to a few crucial questions: Does it help your business save money, accelerate payments, generate more revenue and improve customer relationships?

To all these questions the answer is yes.

Should you automate invoice processing with bill payment software?

A business should automate invoice processing with bill payment software if it wants to use technology to perform highly redundant tasks faster and more accurately so people can spend more time on more strategic, value-added work.

Would you rather have your employees spending most of their time doing highly repetitive routine tasks that don’t help grow your business? Or would you rather they focus on strategizing ways to pay your bills in new ways that make your company stand out among competitors?

The answer is obvious.

Does bill payment software give you more or less control?

Automated bill payment software gives you more control of your finances wherever and whenever.

From virtually anywhere at any time, you’ll be able to see the status of a bill, check the status of approvals or make a payment.

We’re aware you may have concerns about using this technology. You might want to know – with good reason – if you’ll lose control of your finances and won’t be able to keep track of everything going on in paying your bills.

You may think you won’t be able to access you invoice and payment data when you want to, or won’t know about mistakes made.

All valid concerns, yes, but the truth about bill payment software is quite the opposite.

Relationships with customers, suppliers and vendors improve. Payments accelerate. Mistakes go away.

Next steps

Because of last year’s pandemic, the need to automate bill payments has accelerated. Many companies suddenly found themselves unable to get in their offices to process paper checks. But they still had to pay their vendors and suppliers. If they had bill payment software, hurdles would have been avoided.

This software market now rides a steady upward trajectory. Your competitors are likely already using bill payment software or they’re planning to. They may get a competitive advantage by doing so.

More than half (55 percent) of business-to-business payments are now being made electronically, an Ardent Partners Report finds. Within two years, the report predicts, 60 percent of companies will be fully automated.

Do you want your company to be one of those that automates? Or is using paper processes still the right path?

It’s a potentially lucrative — or costly — decision.

Learn more about bill payment solutions by checking out AvidPay, the industry-leading payment automation software from AvidXchange.


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