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Slaying the payables monster

Bank rolls out digital workflow/payments app for SMB market

Community bank's service handles both payables and invoices. Community bank's service handles both payables and invoices.

There’s no corner of banking that new digital technology doesn’t impact. Cash management being a case in point.

Pacific Mercantile Bank, a $1.3 billion-assets business banking specialist operating in southern California, saw an opportunity to up its game by partnering with MineralTree, a Massachusetts fintech with a web-based accounts payable and payments solution.

After about six months of setup time, including testing at a beta client, the bank this week officially rolled out eConnect Pay, its name for the cloud-based software that automates the entire invoice-to-payment process at small and midsize businesses.

Invoice handling automated

Paul Happach, senior vice-president and senior e-channel product manager for the bank, says the product is unique. Most banks, he says, offer integrated payables solutions which automate just the payments piece of the payables function at business clients. By contrast, he says, eConnect Pay automates both payments and invoice document management and processing—invoices are digitally captured. In fact, businesses can have vendors email invoices directly into the system.

The eConnect system integrates with existing accounting packages used by small and midsize businesses, Happach notes, including Quickbooks, Intacct, NetSuite, and others. It also links payments directly with Pacific Mercantile Bank.

Paper reduction a big plus

In other words, eConnect is basically an efficient workflow solution for both invoices and payments. It will route an invoice, for example, to one or more approvers based on vendor, amount, types of invoice, or other factors. Once approved, an invoice is synced back into the accounting system, as described in the second of two videos on the bank’s website, that describe the product. When ready to pay, the authorized person selects amount, date, and method (check, ACH, credit card) and submits.

Payments can be approved from any location and the software supports several anti-fraud controls including segregated approval, positive pay, and two-factor authentication. Once the payment is sent, remittance details are emailed to the vendor, according to the video.

Two clients are currently using the software. Happach says that feedback from them indicates that the biggest advantage is reduced paperwork. Most small business accounting departments are swamped by paper, he says.

“One client told us that when they go through their annual audit, they have to dig through the filing cabinets to find the right papers,” says Happach. With the eConnect Pay software, they can simply use the search function to find what they need.

Bill Streeter

Bill Streeter is Editor & Publisher of Banking Exchange. He has been a full-time business journalist for 43 years, 37 of them with ABA Banking Journal. During his time with the Journal, he rose from Assistant Managing Editor to Editor-in-Chief and in 2012 became Editor & Publisher. He has been an observer of momentous changes in banking, from the introduction of ATMs to the 2008 financial crisis and passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. He has won numerous business journalism awards, including being part of a team that won a finalist position in the Jesse Neal Awards, the "Pulitzer Prize" of business journalism. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn or email him at [email protected]

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