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AribaPay: The Little Payment Engine that Could

May 25, 2016 by Karen Master 112

Six months after winning SAP’s prestigious innovation award, AribaPay continues to spark the digital B2B payment transformation.

Before Apple Pay, there was AribaPay. Launched in July 2014 by SAP Ariba, the solution promised to transform business-to-business (B2B) payments by making them as simple, certain and secure as consumer payments. It seemed far-fetched. Would companies ditch their manual ways and paper checks? Was it any better than standard electronic payment methods like ACH? How secure could it really be?

The AribaPay team knew they’d face challenges in bringing the solution to market. But they never stopped believing in its promise. Or themselves. And for this, they were awarded SAP’s 2015 Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award. What’s been happening with AribaPay and the team behind it since?

The Little Payment Engine that Could

What was once seen as a moonshot has sparked a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way B2B payments are exchanged. Just as consumers have ditched their wallets in favor of mobile devices, many business are abandoning their paper-laden manual ways and moving toward of more efficient digital processes.

Picking Up Steam

More than $60 billion in payments have been processed using AribaPay to date. And what started in North America is catching fire globally. The solution is now available in Canada, and through partnerships with Discover Financial Services and First Data Corporation, will be rolled out in Germany, France and the UK later this year. And the AribaPay team isn’t letting up, with plans for Latin America inked on its roadmap.

“We want to bring the power and scale of AribaPay to the world,” said AribaPay general manager Phil Beck.

To do this, the team is expanding, adding to its sales and enablement capabilities across the US, Canada and Europe. And it can’t move fast enough. “Urgency has always been a top priority. But we feel the pressure to always move faster.”

The road to its early success hasn’t been without bumps. “It’s hard work to build a new market – especially inside a large company,” said Randy Domke, vice president, Payables Network, SAP Ariba. Yet the team feels empowered to deliver. “Winning the Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award made it very clear that SAP believes in the future of payables, recognizes the effort we are putting forth and will make the required investments to ensure that we don’t just succeed, but dominate.”

Changing the Game

For companies like 487 Consulting who signed on to AribaPay earlier this year, the service has been a boon. “I didn’t have any reliable visibility into when invoices would be paid,” said principal consultant and owner Ken Crouse. “And when payments were received, they could be hard to reconcile, especially if I was getting paid for multiple invoices in a single payment. Some invoices were getting paid while others would lag for several months.”

Crouse used to spend three to four days a month reconciling invoices and payments. “Now, I’ve got that down to under a couple hours, which keeps me focused on the business and what my customers pay me to do for them,” he says.

Changing Lives

AribaPay isn’t just changing the game for companies around the world. It’s changing lives.

“While I was working on AribaPay, I was going through an excruciatingly painful time personally,” recalls senior software engineer Tanvi Shah. “My marriage was breaking up and I was suddenly a lonely soul lost in a foreign country with no support system.”

She considered returning to India, but decided instead to focus on her job. Work became her coping mechanism. “My colleagues rallied around me and supported me through one of the darkest times in my life like a surrogate family,” Shah said.

And this gave her a new perspective on work and life. “Winning the Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award proved to me that the work we do at SAP Ariba stretches beyond a paycheck,” Shah said. “The 15 minutes I spent with Bill McDermott, Steve Singh and Alex Atzberger at the award ceremony were truly life changing. When someone as phenomenal as Bill looks you straight in the eye – in the middle of a room full of people – and tells you how proud he is of what you have done – it gives you the inspiration and motivation to believe in yourself and to keep aiming higher.”

Karen Master is Vice President of Communications at SAP Ariba.

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