We’re back from Washington D.C. after the 2014 AFP Annual Conference—what a show! Many thanks to everyone who attended the event, and especially those who took time out of their busy on-site schedules to visit the expo floor.
The annual event is organized by AFP (the Association for Financial Professionals), a professional society that represents finance executives around the globe. The conference was packed full of educational sessions, including recertification credit courses, 10 networking sessions and an exhibit hall with 275 solution provider sponsors. The conference drew over 4,000 Treasury and Finance professionals, technology vendors and more, offering a unique opportunity to gain cutting-edge industry knowledge, network with peers, and connect with thought leaders in the industry.
There was a lot to see and do, and overall, the networking and educational sessions were fantastic – offering insight into trending topics, upcoming technologies, and relevant industry developments.
Heard on the Expo Floor
Beyond the valuable keynotes and sessions, it became abundantly clear during our conversations with attendees on the exhibit floor that a number of challenges around payment processing continue to present themselves to businesses of all shapes and sizes:
- The payments landscape continues to grow in complexity—with each new payment type being additive—often requiring businesses to integrate new vendors and technologies in order to support each one along the way.
- Mobile payments are dominating the conversation as businesses wrestle with how best to utilize mobile payments, how it impacts other payment vehicles, and how to handle consumer-focused channels such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. However, mobile payments appear to be poised to move beyond existing C2B applications as more B2B use cases and applications become more well-known and increase in adoption.
- Payment security gets more complex as the payment channels expand, especially when it comes to mobile payment security. Many business are looking for end-to-end encryption to ensure the transaction is secure from initiation, to posting, all the way to reconciliation.
- Many businesses are eager to leverage ePayments to recognize the cost savings, efficiencies and convenience benefits, yet security remains a top priority and a clear concern. Limited internal IT resources was a recurring theme, shifting additional focus to the benefits and flexibility of cloud-based, integrated receivables solutions.
- Automation in payment processing is a beacon of hope as businesses work to streamline receivables processing, reduce human error and increase efficiencies—yet all too often data remains siloed and different technologies are required for different channels.
As the payments landscape continues to get more complex, with new channels and new technologies, businesses that find ways to automate and integrate their systems to simplify and speed their payments processes will yield significant rewards over the short and long term, including cost savings, improved cash flow and increased visibility across all payment channels and types across the enterprise.
All-in-all, we found the 2014 AFP Annual Conference highly insightful. The financial professional and their respective organizations are at an exciting, and incredibly important crossroads of having to balance high innovation in areas such as payments and enterprise cloud technology, with traditional financial and business cornerstones such as risk management, security and human capital. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 months bring and the topics and themes they influence at AFP 2015.
How are you handling the complexities of today’s payment landscape? Are you behind the proverbial ‘8-ball,’ or are you ahead of the curve?
Originally published November 13, 2014.