ING Wholesale Banking: More Than Just Plastic - Douglas Gray and Martjin van Galen

Corporate card programmes can deliver three key benefits: cost reduction, increased control, and global oversight. However, it is not just the plastic payment tool that delivers this, but the wider value chain of a true corporate card programme, as Douglas Gray and Martijn van Galen of ING Corporate Cards explain to FDE.

The deployment of a card programme can be used to facilitate the streamlining of expense management processes if the card issuer can deliver detailed and standardised electronic transaction data. This can be directly into the organisation’s wider enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or into workflow-based expense approval processes from a bespoke expense management solution provider.

The corporate card solution can also be used to help educate employees about expense policy, thereby improving an organisation’s control. Furthermore, it can be used to enable automatic reconciliation, better consolidation and analysis of expenses, and improve planning processes. Never have such things been more important.

“The economic climate makes multinationals and mid-market corporations across Europe focus on reducing costs, increasing control over spend and improving global oversight,” says Douglas Gray, head of commercial payment solutions for ING. “This is set against the wider context of their desire for consolidation of all payment processes, and the industry’s growing regulatory requirement to increase transparency. There is a need for greater efficiency in payments, and corporate card issuers have a role to play in helping companies achieve this.”

Travel expenses

A prime example of where corporate cards can help is travel expenses.

“Travel is often perceived as a cost of doing business, but today's business climate demands close attention to this, the largest controllable expense,” explains Martijn van Galen, head of sales of CPS. “Many organisations look at individual elements such as corporate cards and the processing of expenses in isolation rather than as part of a wing-to-wing process. Every payment made on a company’s behalf must be submitted as an expense claim and recorded in the accounting systems, so ING CPS provides a suite of integrated products to facilitate this.’

Global control

Corporate cards give the CFO greater control through clearer reporting, either directly from the issuer or via data which is automatically fed back into the ERP system from the card issuer. This enables real global oversight and the ability to truly enforce spending policy, which can generate huge savings through multi-country, multi-currency programmes, and this is before we consider the cost cuttings associated with removing paper processing from the expense process.

“Consider the prospect of being able to block specific card spend in advance through card setting, identify all cardholders who spend above a certain threshold each month, spend on the wrong airline or hotel chain as compared to policy, or spend in outlawed categories such as electronics or gambling for example,” Gray says. “One could even identify those who appear to submit the same expense claim as cash, and then also via their card. If it’s company money that has been spent, the CFO has a right to know that it was spent legitimately, we simply provide the audit service.”

“Evidence from reporting can be used to negotiate discounts and leverage purchasing activities globally,” says van Galen. “Companies can optimise working capital benefits by understanding how to leverage days payable outstanding by making bigger purchases early in the procurement cycle and delaying disbursement for up to 40 days.”

“We have proven experience of initiating and implementing these solutions, a track record in delivery without compromising internal processes, and our solutions adapt to the client's environment,” he continues. “We construct our solution in a manner that reflects the client’s business architectures rather than our own.”

Douglas Gray, head of commercial payment solutions for ING.
Martijn van Galen, head of sales of CPS.