Payment operations is an umbrella term that refers to the entire lifecycle of money movement for a company. 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.
Companies keep track of these workflows via numerous systems, from bank portals and spreadsheets to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Smooth, organized, and efficient payment operations are critical to a well-functioning company.
How have payment operations evolved?
The idea of a barter system, or the exchange of material goods or services for other goods and services, dates back to the Neolithic era. These individual transactions were clear and manageable, often directly between two parties.
Even in the modern era, moving money between a few different parties seemed manageable when most payments were made by cash and check, though large companies often required teams of accountants to close books. Now, however, companies are handling tens of thousands of transactions, representing millions of dollars, every day. The transactions are sent and received though varied payment methods and run across a number of bank portals.
What does the future of payment operations look like?
New technology and growing demand for convenience and efficiency are transforming how money moves—such as the emergence of real-time payments (RTP) in the last few years—and how companies keep track of it too. This transformation increasingly calls for automation and a programmatic means of managing transactions at scale; without it, manual processes can become quickly complex and lead to errors across the payments lifecycle, be that initiating a payment to the wrong account or being unable to reconcile payment to a bank statement.
According to a recent survey, many companies have plans to modernize their existing payment operations processes to better automate payment flows. Having digital tools, dynamic software, and flexible APIs will help with finance team productivity, faster payments, reduced risk, fewer errors, better customer service, and greater insight into finances.
These are the broader payment concepts that underpin payment operations.