The FINANCIAL — While companies around the world are taking note of the growing emergence of mobile and digital payment applications, many treasury departments still grapple with the continued existence and enormous cost of paper payments. Clients at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Conference on Payments and Commercial Card continued to identify that fully converting their payments to electronic was their No. 1 priority in improving their working capital in 2015. The second-highest priority was expanding their card program or adopting mobile/digital business-to-consumer payments. These and other findings were revealed during the two-day event recently held in Phoenix.
“We are facing dramatic shifts in the global payments environment,” said Kevin Phalen, head of Global Card and Comprehensive Payables at BofA Merrill. “As an advisor and service provider to more than 73 percent of treasury departments of the Global Fortune 500, we take our role as facilitator seriously. We hope the dialogue generated among our clients and other industry participants will go some way to advancing preparedness and efficiencies in global commerce,” added Phalen.
This year’s conference, themed “Pay Everywhere: Extending Your Reach,” drew 300 representatives from 175 companies and government agencies based in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. The program featured BofA Merrill experts and other senior industry leaders who spoke on a range of topics, such as how companies can globalize their card programs; new and anticipated innovations in mobile technology; and analyses of regulatory changes impacting payments and cards.
Industry speakers included:
Wayne Best, global economist, Visa, who gave the keynote speech
James Carroll, SVP – Innovation, MasterCard
Karen Webster, CEO, Market Platform Dynamics and founder of PYMNTS.COM
During the event, a number of questions were posed to audience members, generating dialogue among attendees about their respective opportunities and challenges. Notably, 50 percent of attendees said they had a formal payments strategy supported by senior management. And while many clients said that a mobile strategy was not their top priority in 2015, 60 percent did acknowledge that adopting a mobile payments application was something they were likely to introduce in the future. Furthermore, mobile communications are increasingly important to clients, with more than 50 percent of attendees saying mobile alert messaging was “extremely valuable” for their cardholders.
“We were extremely pleased with the outcome of this year’s Payments and Card Conference,” said Ather Williams, head of Global Transaction Services at BofA Merrill. “We’d like to thank our clients and speakers for their active participation and the helpful input they provided. The intelligence we came away with will be invaluable as we determine where to further invest in our platform, and which new capabilities and services will be most beneficial to supporting our clients’ goals.”