Xign Upgrades e-Payables Solution

Adds supplier portal, employee expense reimbursement, garnishments and Canadian payments

Pleasanton, CA  February 18, 2003  e-Payments solution provider Xign this week rolled out the latest version of its Payment Services Network, adding a new portal for suppliers to submit and track invoices, automated employee expense reimbursement, electronic payment of garnishments and support for Canadian payments.

The Xign Payment Services Network (XPSN) offers a solution for automating B2B invoice and payment processing, providing tools that allow companies to move away from paper-based processes in how they settle with their trading partners. Xign's shared supplier network allows any supplier to sign up one time and submit invoices to, and receive payments from, any participating accounts payable organization.

With the new release, says Tom Glassanos, Xign president and CEO, "we've extended our ability to automate the accounts payable function on the electronic invoice side of our offering, as well as on the electronic payments side."

Release 4.0 of the solution features customizable approval workflow. XPSN offers graphical tools that allow companies to use pre-existing workflow rule sets and support existing business processes. The electronic workflow is intended to simplify and streamline such accounts payable (AP) tasks as performing two- and three-way matches, confirming receipt of goods and approving invoices for payment.

The new supplier portal in XPSN provides suppliers with "one-click" access to common billing and collections information. The system gives suppliers the ability to verify that an invoice has been accepted and to see when payment is due to be made. The portal also provides suppliers with such analytic capabilities as aging reports and exception information consolidated across all customers and invoices.

With the new automated employee expense reimbursement capabilities, Xign says its customers can now direct-deposit employee expense reimbursements and notify employees by e-mail, eliminating the need for paper checks. The Employee Reimbursement Module is configurable to interface with various enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and accounting applications, according to the provider.

In addition, version 4.0 allows business to comply with government mandates to garnish employee wages for such payments as child support. Xign customers are able to issue garnishments as electronic payments submitted to individual states and U.S. territories in standard electronic file format.

Finally, with the new XPSN release, Xign makes a small step toward global e-payments by allowing its customers to settle transactions with Canadian suppliers electronically in Canadian dollars.

In an interview, Glassanos noted that payments is still largely a manual, paper-based process today, although he believes that companies increasingly are looking to automate payments processes in the same way that they have adopted electronic procurement in the past few years. "The trend that we see is companies moving to e-payables in the same way that the world moved aggressively toward e-procurement," Glassanos said. "It's a very natural evolution."

The payoff, Xign asserts, can be as much as a 50 percent reduction in operating costs around payments, primarily by eliminating most of the need to have people physically track and deal with paper-based invoices and by having invoicing and payments information available in electronic form online for management, review and issue resolution.

Xign charges companies an implementation fee, which covers such costs as the installation of an adapter for a company's financial accounting system and supplier services, as well as a subscription fee, usually on an annual basis, based on the number of transactions that the company expects to put through the network. Glassanos estimated that the ongoing fees amount to around $1.50 per invoice and $0.75 per payment, which Xign contrasts with industry estimates of $10 to process and pay an invoice using traditional paper-based methods.

XPSN 4.0 is available to new customers today and has been installed in customer production environments for more than 60 days. As a hosted application, the XPSN allowed Xign customers to upgrade to this new release with no downtime as part of their standard maintenance agreement, and with no internal information technology (IT) involvement, according to Xign.

Xign customers already using the new release include Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is using the Canadian payments features to expand its e-payments capability throughout North America, and T-Mobile, which has added the Employee Reimbursement Module to eliminate manual expense payment processes.