How payment digitalization impacts finance teams

Digitalising payment systems has become a priority for many businesses, regardless of their size or the industry they operate in. Payment digitalisation answers customers’ demands of speed and convenience, enabling them to pay however they want to pay through the click of a button. For industries such as insurance, it also allows customers to be paid however they want to be paid instantly. This is a desirable proposition for most customers worldwide.

But payment digitalisation goes way beyond simply answering customer needs. It provokes a transformative shift in the way businesses operate, and in a few key business areas in particular. Finance is one of the areas that can reap incredible benefits from an optimised payment system. In this article, we discuss how payment digitalisation affects finance departments in organisations.

Improve working capital efficiency

According to a PYMNTS study, 84% of CFOs say payment digitalisation has improved their working capital. This has become a key priority for Finance teams, as they focus on entering their digital transformation journeys whilst reducing their dependency on external capital. Ensuring an efficient working capital management system enables companies to have higher flexibility and more control over their funds. It also improves the utilisation of working capital.

With instant payments, organisations are able to draw funds immediately into their accounts. Not only do companies get paid faster, but they also have better control of disbursements. Being able to more easily manage cash flow is key to maintaining stability and it empowers the company to make better business plans.

Improve visibility and transparency

When payments are processed in real-time, payment data is also delivered in real-time. This enables companies to have a much clearer overview of their payment operations and to easily access any data. Enterprises can also use unified reporting tools like Imburse’s to ensure that all data is gathered into one single platform. This provides greater visibility and makes it easier for Finance teams not only to control cash flow but also to make more informed decisions.

virtual terminal

Increase operational efficiency

Payment digitalisation isn’t just about being able to get paid and to pay out in various payment methods. It involves a significant transformation of operations and the adoption of a series of capabilities, including, as previously mentioned, unified reporting, but also mandate management, KYC authentication processes, tokenisation, and analytics. These capabilities, along with easy access to real-time data, enable enterprises to improve efficiency and productivity in teams. Automating operations also means that are fewer risks of errors and helps groups to comply with standard regulations.

Decrease accounting errors

Eliminating or reducing dependency on manual data entry by automating processes can increase accuracy in accounting. Equally, shifting payment data from physical paper to the cloud makes losing or mishandling data less likely to happen. CFOs and their finance teams can easily access all payment information and automate most of their processes, from reporting to mandate management.

electronic invoices are documents issued, managed and stored online.

Reduce payment fraud  

Lastly, payment digitalisation can help teams to prevent and more easily spot payment fraud. The easier access to data enables teams to spot suspicious actions faster and solve issues promptly. Alongside that, there is a wide range of payment technologies that companies can integrate in order to prevent or reduce payment fraud, including tokenisation, encryption, and two-factor authentication. With the rise of cybercrimes, ensuring payment security is vital for any company that handles payments or payment data.

About Imburse

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

Guide to payment processing fees

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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When customers make payments, whether online or in-person, they don’t pay any direct fees to the merchant or their bank. However, payments processing actually incurs a wide range of costs for merchants, so it is important to be aware of them. In this article, we provide a breakdown of the main fees involved in payment processing.

Interchange fees

Every payment that uses a card network (like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex) will involve an interchange fee. Interchange fees cover the costs of payment processing for the issuing bank, processor, gateway, card network, and acquiring bank (or merchant’s bank). They are paid by the merchant on a per-transaction basis. Though there are a lot of payment players involved in this fee, merchants often only see a single interchange fee being taken out of each transaction.

The interchange fee varies based on various factors, including changing interest rates, how risky the transaction is, or simply depending on the card network or country. They can go from 0.2% to 2% of each transaction. Other matters that may influence how the interchange fee is calculated are:

  • CNP vs CP transactions

Card-Present transactions (meaning payments initiated at a Point-of-Sale, physical shop) usually have less risk of fraud, and therefore have lower interchange rates than CNP transactions (any online payment where the card is not physically present).

  • Commercial vs Personal cards

Business debit or credit cards often come with higher interchange rates than personal/individual cards. This doesn’t affect the card owner, only the merchant who is charged a higher fee.

  • National vs Cross-border transactions

Domestic A2A payments are those where both the issuing bank and acquiring bank are based in the same country. For example, if you are a UK resident purchasing from a UK-based business, this is considered a domestic transaction. Domestic payments are usually cheaper than international payments and incur smaller interchange fees.

Card networks are responsible for updating this fee, and they are non-negotiable. Visa and Mastercard, for instance, update their interchange fees twice a year, in April and October, and these changes are public and easily accessible. American Express, on the other hand, doesn’t publish its fees online. Issuing and acquiring banks have no control over the interchange fee- this matter is solely the responsibility of card networks.

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Assessment fees

Assessment fees are paid directly to the card networks. They are charged on the merchant’s total monthly sales done through each card network. For instance, Amex would charge a set percentage of the merchant’s monthly sales done with Amex cards. The current assessment fees for all card networks range between 0.13% and 0.15%, though these numbers may be updated at any time.

Payment processing fees

In addition to the interchange and assessment fees, payment processors also charge their own fees for processing payments. These fees cover the costs of running and updating software, technical support, operations, and billing, amongst many others. These fees may vary widely depending on the processor merchants choose, as well as the added services and functionalities they offer. Some added functionalities could be reporting analytics, 24/7 technical support, and acceptance of a wider range of payment methods. The fee may also vary depending on the size of the business and the volume of payments that need to be processed.

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Merchant account fees

Every business needs a merchant account to receive payments. Essentially, a merchant account is a business bank account that enables merchants to take payments from customers, as this can’t be done with a regular individual bank account. Businesses can apply for a merchant account with any acquiring bank. The merchant acquiring bank usually charges a per-transaction fee to the merchants. Alongside the per-transaction fee, acquiring banks may also request a fixed monthly fee to cover potential risks with payments, as well as the daily operational costs of settling payments.

About Imburse

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What is a Standing Order?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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There are multiple situations in which we need to transfer money on a regular basis. Rent and utility bills may be the most common ones, but recurring payments are also equally popular to pay contractors, freelancers or suppliers. In this article, we discuss what is a standing order, how it works and what it can be used for.

 

Meaning of standing order

A standing order is a automated method of making payments on a recurring, fixed basis. When you set up a standing order, the payments are automatically taken from your account on the agreed day and at the agreed frequency. The payer has full control over the standing order, so payers are the only ones that can cancel or amend it. For instance, if you have to pay a supplier for their services on a monthly basis, and the rates and hours of work are the same every month, you could set up a standing order to avoid missed or delayed payments. Standing orders can have a fixed duration, but they can also be permanent. Payers are able to cancel them at any time. 

 

What are standing orders used for?

Standing orders are recurring payments, therefore used for repeated sales rather than one-off purchases. This could be rent, utility bills, subscriptions, regular charity donations, freelancers or contractors’ salaries or even adding money to your savings account. The examples are various, but they all have one thing in common: these are payments that payers make on a recurring basis.

Freelancers may use standing orders to get paid from their various clients, as they provide services on an ongoing basis. If they have a fixed rate and fixed work schedule, they are able to determine how much they need to get paid and the frequency of the payment. Standing orders are quick to set up, and a great way to avoid missing payments, especially when there’s a specific due date for them.

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How to set up a standing order

Standing orders can only be set up by the customer and owner of the bank account. Companies can’t set up standing orders themselves – the customers must do this directly with their bank, either at a branch or online via their banking app. Equally, customers are the only ones who have the power to manage how much money they send and to whom.

When setting up a standing order, they will be requested to provide information regarding the amount of money they would like to send, the payee’s bank details and the frequency of the standing order (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc). Customers may also be able to provide a payment reference and an end date for the standing order. When this information is provided, the recurring payments will cease on this date.

 

What’s the difference between a standing order and a direct debit?

Both a standing order and direct debit work on a recurring basis. This means that the contract is ongoing and automated, so the amounts of money are taken directly from the accounts on the dates that were initially set.

However, as opposed to standing orders, direct debits are set up by the payee. Companies will set up the payees’ bank details, amounts to be paid, as well as frequency of the payment. Payees have to agree to this direct debit contract beforehand. Though payees are able to request cancellation of this contract whenever they wish, only the payer can directly cancel or amend it.   Standing orders, on the other hand, are set up and fully controlled by the payer. The payer is the only person that can amend or cancel them.  

In short, the payer needs to authorise both standing orders and direct debits. However, with standing orders, the payer is requesting their bank to make payments to other person or organisation on a recurring basis and a set frequency. With direct debits, the payer is requesting their bank to allow a company to take money from their account.

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How to cancel a standing order

If you don’t specify an end date for the standing order, the payments will be ongoing until you manually cancel it. Payers can do this easily either by visiting a branch, through the bank’s website or through their mobile banking app. Standing orders can be cancelled at any time. However, if a payment is due on the date you wish to cancel the standing order, you may still have to make this payment. It is important to notify the payee that the standing order will be cancelled, or else they will be expecting the payment still and you may have to find other ways to pay.   

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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PCI DSS Compliance Checklist

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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As payment digitalisation becomes more popular than ever, private information and payment data is also more likely to be compromised. These risks don’t concern financial institutions solely, but any company that handles card data. The PCI DSS is a crucial set of standards, established to prevent and reduce fraud whilst ensuring cardholders’ protection. In this article, we discuss what is the PCI DSS, its objectives and requirements.   

 

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) is a set of information security standards developed by the PCI Security Standard Council in 2006. It aims to reduce card payment fraud risk and protect cardholder data. This set of standards are mandatory for any company that requires or handles card data and personal information, regardless of company size, the number of transactions or amount of data it collects. The PCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) is an independent body composed of the main card payment brands, which include Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Payment security is taken very seriously by customers, so payment fraud can truly damage a company’s reputation. PCI DSS plays an important role in providing companies with the right guidance when it comes to security systems and tools. Compliance with this standards is therefore crucial to ensure that all tools are in place to authenticate and monitor payment and customer data and to prevent and mitigate fraud risks.

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What are the PCI Compliance levels?

There are four merchant levels, determined by the number of transactions that companies perform each year. The different levels still have to comply to the same requirements. However, the main difference between them is that level 1 is required to get an on-site external audit, performed either by a QSA (Qualified Security Assessor) or an ISA (Internal Security Assessor). This external auditor then has to submit an RoC (Report on Compliance) to the company’s acquiring banks. Companies in levels 2 to 4 don’t need an external auditor, and can complete a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) themselves. Level 2 companies must also complete a Report on Compliance.

PCI levels are defined by:

  • Level 1: Merchants with over 6 million transactions annually, or any merchant that has had a data breach
  • Level 2: Merchants with between 1 to 6 million transactions annually, across all channels
  • Level 3: Merchants with between 20,000 and 1 million online transactions annually
  • Level 4: Merchants with fewer than 20,000 online transactions a year or any merchant processing up to 1 million regular transactions per year

 

The PCI DSS 6 goals and 12 requirements

The requirements of PCI DSS are both technical and operational, all aimed at protecting cardholder data and preventing fraud. These 12 requirements of PCI DSS are divided into 6 goals:

 

Build and Maintain a Secure Network

1. Protect your systems with firewall configuration

The first step to becoming PCI compliant is to install a firewall. This will prevent hackers from accessing your data and contribute to a much safer network overall.  

2. Do not use vendor-supplied default settings

These default settings include passwords and other details that are pre-configured by vendors. Default settings are easier to hack, so they put your organisation at an incredibly high risk of vulnerability.

 

Protect Cardholder Data

3. Protect stored cardholder data

This section details how companies can protect stored cardholder data, including encryption, and how data should be displayed when needed.

4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

This requirement aims at ensuring that data is safe when being moved across networks. This includes encrypting data and making sure that the recipient has a valid security certificate.

 

Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programmes

Anti-virus software needs to be frequently updated and it needs to cover all known malware. Companies also need to maintain a list of procedures that check for the effectiveness of the anti-virus software used.

6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Similarly to updating your anti-virus software programme, keeping all security systems and applications updated prevents the increase of vulnerabilities.

 

Implement Strong Access Control Measures

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know

Access to cardholder data should be restricted and accessed only by those who need it to perform their jobs. There should also be defined roles and different permissions based on the information each person needs to access.

8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

Providing each person with a unique ID enables organisations to track which information is seen or used by whom, making it easier to hold people accountable. Users should also have two-factor authentication, as recommended by the PCI DSS.

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

If any cardholder data is kept physically on a specific location, access to this location should be as restricted as possible, especially to those outside of the organisation. The location should also be monitored with a video camera.

 

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Using activity logs to track and monitor access to cardholder data enables companies to have a clearer view of how data is being used and act faster should it be compromised.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes

Testing security systems and processes regularly enables companies to ensure that their procedures and security tools are working efficiently.

 

Maintain an Information Security Policy

12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

This requirement includes establishing company policies that address all security components and applications, as well as all possible vulnerabilities.

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Imburse can deliver a fully Level 1 PCI compliant solution whilst offering a truly payment provider agnostic ecosystem and highly customizable user interfaces and journeys. Imburse is PCI Level 1 compliant, delivering a suite of services and features that suit a wide set of needs in the enterprise world.

 

About Imburse

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What is ISO27001?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Financial services companies are facing a worryingly increasing number of cyber-attacks and data breaches. In fact, only in the first half of 2021, the banking industry saw a 1318% increase in ransomware attacks (Trend Micro). It is estimated that cyberattacks on banks from 2020 onwards will result in a loss of $347 billion. The insurance industry follows closely with a loss of $305 billion (Accenture report).  

It is now more relevant than ever that companies ensure that all private information is handled securely. The ISO27001 certification is a way for organisations to formalise their processes and prove that they are handling data in a secure way. In this article, we explain what ISO27001 is, how it works and its importance for companies.  

 

Meaning of ISO27001

ISO27001 is an international standard for information security management. It is composed by a set of policies and guidelines that help companies in any industry to better protect their information assets. Over time it has become the de facto measurement of the degree to which an organisation takes information security seriously.

The Information Security Management System (ISMS)  is a framework which defines an approach to implementing information security controls based on a clear understanding of objectives and risk levels. This enables adopters of the standard to set well-considered policies and procedures that can help prevent security breaches and mitigate security risks.

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ISO27001 was published jointly by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), two organisations known for developing international standards. As ISO27001 is a requirements standard, it is possible to become certified to it. This involves a third party certification body carrying out an audit to verify the implementation of the standard.

This certification is useful because it provides other organisations with assurance that the standard has been implemented correctly. Although ISO27001 certification is not mandatory, it has a number of benefits for companies that wish to build trust and assure their clients and partners of strong information security processes.

 

How does ISO27001 work?

The ISMS consists of a number of basic building blocks including the establishment of a set of policies, the definition of clear information security objectives, ongoing risk assessment, monitoring and reviews. It starts with an initial review of potential security risks, followed by the definition of processes that can prevent or mitigate each risk. The main purpose of ISO27001 is therefore to improve risk management by discovering which risks are there and implementing policies and solutions to increase security. Naturally, each company faces different risks, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of solutions.

Technically, ISO27001 is divided into two parts: a set of 11 clauses and the Annex A. Clauses 0 to 3 include Introduction, Scope, Normative References and Terms and Definitions, and clauses 4 to 10 include the mandatory requirements to become ISO27001 certified, broadly these cover the following key areas:

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Annex A forms an integral part of ISO27001 and includes a list of practices that enable companies to better manage their security risks. These aren’t mandatory to follow, they simply serve as guidance and can be applied to different business scopes.

 

Why is ISO27001 important?

Though ISO27001 isn’t mandatory, is it still an internationally recognised standard. This means that companies that do have the ISO27001 certification can prove to their clients and partners that their data is protected. Furthermore, it also shows that companies have the necessary processes in place to react appropriately should there be any kind of data breach. This helps to build trust between companies and clients. Not only is ISO27001 important to protect clients’ personal data, but the organisation’s own data too including that of employees, suppliers and partners.

 

How can companies get their ISO27001 certification?

The requirements for being ISO27001 compliant are addressed in clauses 4.1 to 10.2, as well as in Annex A. Companies need to be audited by an external accredited body and, if the audit is successful, this external organisation will provide them with the certificate. You can find more information about the ISO27001:2013 certification and its requirements on their official website.

At Imburse, we care deeply about our clients and are committed to the security of our data. For this reason we decided to implement an ITSM that follows the ISO27001 framework and successfully obtained certification in April 2021.

 

About Imburse

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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