STAMFORD, CT December 20, 2001 Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of supply chain automation is the payments arena. This space is racked with transaction problems, but solutions providers are working to correct them. To illustrate this movement to improve the settlement sector, GE Capital Financial Inc. has introduced a patented payment tool that automates the settlement and reconciliation of transactions made through e-procurement systems. Called ePcard XML, the system is designed to reduce errors and speed up online purchasing.
One of the key benefits of this product is a drastic reduction in the amount of rework and mistakes in the order, settlement and reconciliation process. ePcard XML uses machine-to-machine communication between the Oracle® Procurement system and the MasterCard network to increase control and accuracy, Gary Reiner, chief information officer of the General Electric Co., said. It supports GE's efforts to digitize and uses the latest XML technology to eliminate steps in the purchasing process.
Currently most purchasing card transactions in e-procurement systems require the supplier to manually type the customer's purchase order (PO) number at the point of sale. ePcard XML eliminates the need for suppliers to capture customer PO numbers. Instead, ePcard XML automatically extracts the PO number from the e-procurement system, appends it to the MasterCard® transaction record and transmits it to the customer's accounting system for automated reconciliation. Additional accounting features also are available if needed.
Several GE businesses have used ePcard XML since September 2001 with their Oracle Procurement systems. More than 800 online suppliers are enabled, currently settling orders worth several million dollars a month via ePcard XML. Back-office reconciliation efforts have dramatically decreased since the introduction. GE Capital plans to release ePcard XML to other corporate card customers in January 2002.
With $700 million in volume a year, GE has one of the largest and most effective purchasing card programs in the world. ePcard XML builds on the strengths of that program, and solves a market-wide issue by providing more data and more control, Jeffery R. Dye, president of GE Capital Financial Inc., the corporate card unit of GE Card Services, said. It's an innovative e-settlement tool that will help companies turn the promise of e-procurement into productivity.
ePcard XML is built using Extensible Markup Language (XML) for ease of integration and use. In addition, additional security features such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and digital certificate protocols protect data while in transit.