How AirPlus and Coupa enable the entire procure-to-pay process

Did you hear? We recently partnered with Business Spend Management (BSM) platform Coupa. The partnership will see the integration of AirPlus Virtual Cards into Coupa Pay, enabling the entire Procure-to-Pay process to take place from one centralized platform.

But what does it mean for you and your business? We dedicated our latest podcast episode to ask just that. Based on that conversation, we’ve taken a look at how and why our partnership with Coupa has real potential to streamline processes and improve transparency, while benefiting suppliers, employees, subsidiaries and other stakeholders alike.

Introducing Coupa

Coupa is a Cloud-based Business Spend Management platform located in the US. The platform was built to cover the full procurement process from source to settlement, including liquidity and cash management. What makes it special is its particular emphasis on the customer experience – placing them at the core of every process.

Recently, Coupa has begun its push into Europe, which saw it adapt its services to meet the needs of the region. This means it’s only natural for Coupa to partner with us and integrate our virtual cards for a more well-rounded, seamless, and complete Procure-to-Pay journey.


Why is this integration so important?

So, Coupa is a fully featured BSM platform. What do AirPlus Virtual Cards bring to the equation? A lot, actually. Let’s consider the context.

Virtual payments are becoming an ever-handier tool in an increasingly digital world. The digitalization of business payments has been ramping up over the past few years – first in the consumer side of payments and now in the corporate side.

Virtual card payments have benefited the most from this, seeing significant gains in the market. They are now out-pacing traditional payment methods when it comes to growth, likely spurred on by the prevalence of online spending and the payment requirements that brings about.

This combination of technology and payment infrastructure (i.e. AirPlus Virtual Cards and the Coupa platform) have helped to unify the many different aspects and processes associated with payments. This kind of interface management is what our joint solution with Coupa is all about.

And that’s far from the only benefit.


How customers benefit from our partnership with Coupa

Looking more directly at how customers can benefit from adopting our joint procurement solution, we’ve broken down some of the biggest improvements to expect:

Convenience and transparency

Centralization is perhaps the biggest gain from this integration. It leads to increased efficiency and convenience across the whole procurement workflow – there’s no need to switch between programs, after all.

And, with all steps now taking place on a single, centralized platform, paired with the innate strengths of virtual card payments, visibility and transparency are improved significantly. This means it is possible to get a true overview of all payments taking place.

Reconciliation and data quality

Data quality needs to be maintained every step of the way to make the biggest impact. Looking again at the centralization of payments and other processes spurred on by the partnership, this quality can be carried over from one step to the next.

This is important for the final step – reconciliation. Thankfully, Coupa works closely with some of the biggest ERP platforms, ensuring that data can easily be loaded directly into the ERP system. Between that and the increased data quality, manual work is cut down to an absolute minimum. That’s a big win for the accounting team.

Streamline the entire Procure-to-Pay process

Then there is the benefit of a ‘lean’ procurement process. This is also important, as the more working parts that are involved, the more likely something is to fail. Automation is thus key to not only reduce the burden on each stakeholder, but also ensure things run smoothly.

There are plenty more benefits of our integration as a whole to consider too:

  • Optimized working capital
  • Best-in-class risk control
  • More choice of payment methods

Who benefits the most?

It’s fair to say that virtual cards impact almost every stakeholder involved with your typical procurement payment process. The employee, the Purchasing team, Accounting and Finance, even the Treasury – each have something to gain by adopting virtual cards.

Of course, virtual cards are just part of the equation – the procurement platform also offers numerous benefits. And in combination with a virtual payment solution, it enables an all-in-one infrastructure that unites every step and stakeholder into one platform. That alone is a huge gain, as it translates to seamless processes.

Rather than focusing on the individual role, let’s look at an example of a use case:

One-time suppliers have long been a thorn in the side of Purchasing teams. It’s often a choice between on boarding them (time consuming) and asking employees to cover the costs with their own cards and reimbursing them (not transparent).

It is a situation like this where the integration of AirPlus Virtual Cards really starts to shine. They allow for streamlined, easy on boarding of new suppliers.

Remember before about the increasing use of online payment channels? These platforms require a modern and online-compatible payment method. Virtual cards offer just that, meeting the immediate payment needs often seen online.

This not only reduces the bureaucracy for the employee making the purchase, but also opens up many more sourcing opportunities for the Purchasing department. Accounting get to enjoy the increased visibility and easy reconciliation. You get the picture – there’s something for everyone.


What to consider when digitizing your business processes

There is naturally a lot for businesses to consider before making a decision on transforming their business processes. There are some pieces of advice worth considering that may help in this decision.

  • Identify the needs, wants and pains of each stakeholder
  • Start small and grow fast
  • Pick a single use case for virtual cards first where they add the most value
  • Get to know the implementation process and make decisions based on this experience

Let us know when you’re ready, and we’ll help you get the most out of the integration and help you get started.

The pains businesses are facing with procurement are clear: Inefficient processes, lots of manual work, too much bureaucracy, difficulty keeping track of all payments.

What our partnership with Coupa brings to businesses is an all-in-one solution, a centralized platform that cuts down on the unnecessary use of resources, while also being highly compatible with the modern payment landscape.

Ultimately, business spend management is an investment towards efficiency, transparency and easy payments.

To quote the podcast: “This all sounds very complex, but it isn't.”

Speaking of which, this article was inspired by the latest episode of our podcast where we spoke with Sebastian Niemeyer, Senior Director - Strategic Bank Partnerships at Coupa, and Stefan Waelde, Head of B2B Payments at AirPlus. You can listen to it in full on Spotify.

You can also learn more about our partnership here and see how you can gain control and visibility of your business spending with AirPlus and Coupa.

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