Tracking down a lost money transfer has always been a challenge, but especially so since wire transfers were initiated in the 19th century on the back of the then “new” technology of the telegraph. What a shame that so little progress has been made in this important function that lies at the heart of so much commerce—especially in view of all the other technological changes that have occurred around us.
The U.S. Department of Commerce tells us there are more than 18,000 businesses in the United States with 500 or more employees; and that it costs these mid- and large-size companies more than $700 million to handle payment exceptions every year. What a waste of time, money, and productivity. And that is only in the United States. The situation is exacerbated when we factor in cross-border transactions. There is no readily available hard data as to the costs (hard and soft costs) of reconciliations by this category of business, but it has to be unacceptably large by any measure.
Companies and other payment constituencies are demanding change, as they should. The most apparent solution is to attach rich data related to the transfer/payment so as to reduce the number of failed payments and to enable all interested parties to efficiently track down such failed payments when they do occur. In this instance, rich data would include items such as the invoice (or specifics of a partial payment), freight, customs and insurance documentation, consular certification, and perhaps even a picture of the product or spec sheet. The more data that can be embedded with the transaction information will provide a full reference file for the transaction and be a significant step forward in increasing the reliability and utility of payments.