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Mastering Cash Application with Artificial Intelligence

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For treasurers, maintaining a smooth cash flow is an ongoing battle.  Amidst this struggle lies the daunting task of cash application—matching incoming payments with their corresponding invoices.

The seemingly straightforward process of applying customer payments often proves to be a labyrinth of challenges, draining resources, impeding productivity, and impacting the customer experience.

Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions are transforming the way that payments are applied.

This article shows how AI-powered solutions help treasurers master cash application.

The cash application conundrum

Numerous hurdles plague the cash application process:

  • Manual matching.  From U.S. mail to online portals, customer payments arrive via many channels, in many formats.  Conventional approaches to matching payments with remittance and comparing payments to open invoices are sluggish, error-prone, and resource-intensive. Human errors lead to payment mismatches, delayed postings, and disgruntled customers.
  • Data discrepancies.  The lack of remittance standardization in the United States results in inconsistent invoice and payment data.  There’s no telling what information a customer will provide on a remittance – if any at all – or how accurate it will be.  Making matters worse, it’s not uncommon for receivables departments to manually key most of the remittance details that they receive, or to pay a lockbox provider to capture the data on their behalf.  A single typo or transposed number can make it difficult to apply a customer payment.
  • Partial payments and invoice bundles.  It’s easy to match payments to open invoices when the amounts match.  But customers often make partial payments or group payments for multiple invoices, requiring manual intervention and prolonging processing times.
  • High payment volumes.  With business growth comes an avalanche of invoices and payments.  Manual applying payments to open invoices can overwhelm receivables staff, resulting in backlogs, delayed cash visibility, and potential impact on customers.

Organizations cannot afford to be held back by the issues of manual cash application. 

AI to the rescue: the art of intelligent matching

Solutions powered by AI – technology that uses computers or software to perform tasks that previously required human operator intervention – a smarter approach to cash application.  

Here’s how AI can help organizations achieve efficient and precise cash application:

  • Automated data extraction.  AI-powered cash application solutions extract crucial data from invoices, remittances, and emails, significantly reducing manual data entry and the opportunity for errors.  Unlike optical character recognition (OCR), AI can handle complex document layouts, handwritten text, and poor-quality images.  And AI doesn’t rely on pre-defined rules or templates to extract remittance data, which can make it hard to deploy OCR.
  • Pattern recognition.  AI algorithms analyze vast amounts of historical receivables data to discern patterns in invoice and payment formats.  Analyzing historical data enables AI-powered solutions to identify subtle variations and match even non-standardized data.
  • Fuzzy matching for real-world scenarios.  Traditional cash application relies heavily on exact matching of data points between invoices and payments.  This works well in controlled environments with standardized formats, but real-world data is messy.  Typos, abbreviations, and inconsistencies are common, leading to mismatched payments and downstream errors.  AI solutions also can consider the broader context to improve matching accuracy.
  • Continuous improvement.  AI-powered cash application solutions offer a big advantage over traditional methods by continuously learning and improving their performance over time.  AI algorithms are trained on vast amounts of historical data, including invoices, remittance advices, and past matching decisions.  As the solution processes more data over time, the algorithms become adept at identifying patterns and relationships within the data. AI also can recognize new variations in data and learn to match them accurately.

These are some of the reasons that organizations are embracing AI-powered solutions.

AI: Your champion in cash application

Harnessing the power of AI-powered solutions can transform the application of customer payments.

  • Streamlined processes.  Automatic and intelligent matching of payments and invoices minimizes errors and streamlines processing, resulting in quicker application of payments.
  • Improved staff productivity:  Freed from manual matching, receivables teams can focus on higher-value tasks like resolving exceptions and addressing customer inquiries.
  • Enhanced cash flow visibility.  By accelerating the application of payments through AI-powered solutions, organizations gain a clearer picture of their incoming cash flow much sooner. Improved cash flow visibility enables treasurers to see how quickly customers are settling their invoices and helps predict future cash inflows with greater accuracy.
  • Reduced outstanding receivables.  Promptly matching and recording payments reduces outstanding receivables and gives treasurers a more accurate picture of their cash position.
  • Increased forecasting accuracy.  Faster recognition of incoming payments provides a more accurate picture of historical cash collection patterns, enabling treasurers to make data-driven forecasts.  And AI-powered solutions can analyze trends in customer payment behavior, helping treasurers to predict future cash inflows and outflows with greater confidence.

AI-powered cash application solutions are a game-changer for treasurers and finance teams.  They deliver a powerful combination of efficiency, accuracy, and improved cash flow visibility, empowering treasurers to make better financial decisions and achieve long-term financial success.

Rethink cash application

Treasurers are under tremendous pressure to optimize cash flow and maximize efficiency.  Conventional cash application methods, reliant on manual processes and prone to errors and delays, can be a major bottleneck.  This is where AI-powered cash application solutions come in, offering treasurers a compelling way to streamline processes, make better financial decisions, optimize cash flow management, and ultimately, achieve long-term financial success for their organization.

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