Before migrating to STP, Wessex Water had a team of accounts payable staff calling suppliers every week to provide their HSBC card details once an invoice was approved. Not only did this mean that control sat with the supplier rather than the buyer, but when they processed the card payments, raw card data was shared with each supplier, posing challenges to data compliance management.
The process was time-consuming and open to risk. There was no guarantee that the supplier would process the payment correctly or even answer the phone call on the first, second or third attempt.
While the setup did fulfil its basic function, onboarding more suppliers to the traditional card programme resulted in yet more administration for both the buyer and the supplier.
Wessex Water also had a need to facilitate better control of large-ticket transactions as many suppliers had single transaction ceiling limits of £99,000 with their respective payment gateway or acquiring bank. In most cases this reverted payments to BACS and contracted terms of EOM + 30 days.
While this approach is familiar to many businesses, stretching standard payment terms can cause some suppliers serious cash flow issues and harm business relationships. As a business committed to treating all partners, customers and stakeholders with respect, Wessex Water wanted to fundamentally transform this process to benefit all parties and ensure payments do not act as a barrier to growth.