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The State of Payment Operations in 2021

This year, we conducted the first State of Payment Operations survey. This By The Numbers journal talks through some of the key survey points and the case for modernizing payment ops.

Dimitri DadiomovCEO

Note: The insights in this post were gathered from a public online survey of 300 financial decision makers from companies ranging from 500-5,000 employees, from August to September 2021. Check out the PDF Report for a deeper look at the data.


Payment operations involve managing the entire cycle of money movement. This includes initiating payments, setting up approval processes, tracking and attributing sent and received funds, resolving payment failures and returns, reconciling transactions to bank statements, and booking payments to the general ledger. These workflows traverse numerous systems within a company, ranging from bank portals to spreadsheets to ERP software.

Surprisingly, despite being present in virtually every company, payment operations has not often been studied in a holistic way in the past. We decided we wanted to better understand how decision makers think and experience these problems by surveying them, in partnership with a leading research organization.

Recently, we worked with The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey to better understand the current state of payment operations. While we knew many issues existed for many companies across various sizes and industries—that’s what our products address—we wanted to gauge the prevalence and understand the root of the issues.

Current State Highlights

More than four in five companies (84%) face payment operations problems such as slow payments, a high rate of payment failures, returns and refunds and data quality errors. On top of that, more than one-third (34%) of payment operations are still manual, which are prone to human error and can have negative effects on a business’ bottom line and productivity.

The impact of inefficient payment operations are felt both on the front line—employee frustration and loss of productivity—and the bottom line—with increased risk and even lost revenue.

Chart showing various outcomes of inefficient payment operations.

As more companies launch products that move and track money at scale, it becomes an increasing need to replace outdated and fragmented systems with these new tools.

The Case for Modernizing Payment Operations

Virtually all financial decision makers surveyed (99%) think upgrades to payment operations would be helpful. More than 4 in 5 say their companies would benefit from modernizing payment ops in terms of increased speed, flexibility and transparency with money movement. Many (81%) are already planning their upgrades.

Chart showing that 81% of respondents are planning to upgrade their payment operations.

Modern Treasury has been developing software for the past three years that automates every step of the payment operations process. Many of our customers were able to start automating their payment flows quickly because we made it easy to integrate with their banks, structure their accounts, and manage their general ledger through our APIs or web app.

The bottom line is that companies large and small that automate payments using modern software and APIs will see big gains in finance team productivity, faster payments, reduced risk, fewer errors, better customer service, and greater insight into finances.

Learn More about Payment Operations Solutions

You can download the report with the survey results here. If you want to learn more about payment operations solutions, reach out to talk to a payments advisor.

Or, better yet, come help us build the next generation of payments solutions from the inside. We’re hiring across the organization; check out the opportunities on our careers page.

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