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Q&A with Steve Schepke
Director of Enterprise Sales,
Western USA
Part One

Don Curren June 20, 2018

Q: You’re fairly new to Cambridge. Can you tell us a little about your background and what brought you to the company?

A: I’ve been in the Internet business since 1997 – which makes me a bit of a dinosaur – in a variety of different companies, anything from Adtech, to gaming, to SaaS. The last six or seven years I’ve been in payments. I used to work for American Express.

I really enjoy the payment space, and what brought me to Cambridge is how they are focused on solution selling as opposed to pure technology or pure services, really finding out what the customer’s pain points and needs are, and building a solution around that, which I really enjoy.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your outside interests?

A: I have two teenage daughters who are both in high school who keep me very busy. Other than that, I’m kind of a sports nut. I also really enjoy travelling and being in and around the ocean.

Q: Can you define for me, in basic terms, what payment automation is?

A: At a high level, payment automation is eliminating unnecessary manual and multi-step processes for a company paying its suppliers or vendors – using newer tools and technologies to streamline payment processes. This not only creates a better experience for its suppliers, but also reduces the manual workload within AP which saves time and money freeing up time for more strategic initiatives.

Q: What are the primary pain points that payment automation addresses for customers?

A: There are three that come to mind. The first would be the ability to scale their businesses in an efficient manner. Everybody’s looking to grow, and payments are a large part of a lot of many companies’ businesses, the ability to automate that process allows them to scale in a much more efficient manner and eliminate many potential bottlenecks.

The second important one is really the reduction of errors in manual processes. Not that technology is perfect, but errors can be greatly reduced by taking manual processes out of the equation.

The third big thing is that by using technology to automate AP, companies don’t have to hire as many people to perform the same functions. I think everybody that works in a business understands the cost of trying to find, hire, train and retain good employees, and automation tools can generally reduce that need.

Q: Can you tell us, just broadly, how the payments process generally works before it’s automated?

A: Think about Edna in an AP department. She gets an invoice with information about a supplier that needs to get paid (invoice number, amount, etc.), and needs to enter than in their accounting system. It good be something as small as QuickBooks or it could be as large as SAP.

From there, to make payments she has to extract and manipulate the proper data, whether that’s looking at it manually and typing it into a bank portal, or extracting it in a payment file. Then in many cases she has to reconstruct the file for the data to adhere to a certain format in order to work for their bank or other payment provider.

Hopefully, at that point everything is correct and payments can then be submitted for disbursement. However, many times it isn’t because as we think about paying in different currencies, via different methods, there’s different rules and different data points that need to be gathered and validated. All of this is a very manual, labor intensive process.

Q: In general, what kind of benefits can customers expect when they’re automating their payments?

A: Cambridge is very good at reducing what would be traditional costs associated with using your bank – monthly fees, incidental fees, and the actual transaction cost of the payment.
But I think a huge benefit is really the experience from the vendor or supplier side. If you think of what people call digital-economy companies – Uber and Airbnb are the ones most people are familiar with – their drivers and hosts are really the life blood of their business. Without them they do not have a business.

By providing a better, faster, and pain-free payment experience, it allows them to retain them and grow their supplier base ultimately leading to their success.

Q: Those companies are in a way uniquely labor intensive. That’s one aspect of the gig economy – there’s going to be more and more of these providers out there, so more and more people and suppliers that need to get paid.

A: Absolutely. That market is growing exponentially and it’s going into many different business verticals that are going to be disrupted – both known and unknown. Also, if I can use Upwork.com to find a contractor in the Philippines that can do research work for me at a very advantageous rate and in an efficient manner, I don’t have to hire a full-time employee to help me complete projects. Which is a big advantage for my business.

To read Part Two of our Q&A with Steve Schepke, click here!

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