UK businesses are investing in modernising their payment systems to boost efficiency and protection against fraudulent activity. According to new research released by American Express. The new study surveyed financial leaders across sectors on challenges and priorities related to payment digitisation and automation with a focus on fraud prevention and security. American Express surveyed 750 professionals from all sizes of UK businesses. Respondents include senior financial decision makers and finance professionals responsible for payments.  

As expected, security topped the list of the most important considerations for organisations when exploring new business-to-business (B2B) payment methods. This was prioritised by 60% of respondents followed by cost (48%) and accuracy (45%). 

Over the last 12 months, almost a third (29%) of the surveyed UK businesses reported an uptick in payments fraud. Almost half (45%) of the firms reporting an increase in fraudulent activity have introduced new security and anti-fraud measures, while one third (34%) have taken steps to bolster current payments security capability. Respondents indicated they spend an average of 7% of annual turnover on fraud protection. 

Businesses continue to show an appetite for modernising and diversifying their payment processes to unlock a range of benefits. Customer demand is driving this innovation, with just over half (51%) of the businesses surveyed emphasising the importance of offering their B2B customers a choice of ways to pay when purchasing goods and services from them. 

Seven in 10 businesses keen on automation

Over the past two years, 69% of businesses have considered or adopted automation with the goal of saving time, minimising errors, and reducing costs. Additionally, 57% have either integrated or considered using virtual cards, a digital alternative to physical cards. 

The research also revealed that individuals are more willing to experiment with alternative payment methods, such as e-wallets or QR codes, in their personal lives (61%) than within a business context (50%). Two thirds (66%) of respondents added they would be more likely to introduce a new payment method to their organisation if they’d used it as a consumer. 

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Stacey Sterbenz, Vice President & General Manager, UK Commercial at American Express, said: “Secure and seamless payments are more important than ever for businesses so it’s not surprising to see UK firms investing in this area and seeking out partners who can support them in this area, particularly as more B2B spending digitises. At American Express, we’re committed to supporting our customers’ businesses through enhanced tools and controls that improve efficiency and reduces risk, along with delivering greater visibility of their B2B spending.”