Originally appeared in PYMNTS.com

The year 2021 was a time of business innovation brought on by the pandemic, says Priority Technology Holdings Executive Chairman and CEO Thomas Priore. Read his thoughts in the PYMNTS eBook, “In a Word: 50 Thought Leaders Sum Up 2021.”

Reflecting back on 2021, a storyline worth highlighting is the continued economic growth and effectiveness of pandemic-era innovation. In 2020, faced with nearly impossible odds and incredible uncertainty, businesses innovated and improvised as a matter of survival.

Hospitality venues navigated to take-out only, curbside pickup and mobile ordering. Landscapers, HVAC installers, electricians, cement providers, builders and plumbers, with no office staff to speak of, embraced digital invoicing and remote payment solutions. Medical professionals incorporated virtual visits, telemedicine and contactless point of care with mobile and installment payment options. Even landlords, with no property management staff on-site, embraced the quick adoption of digital rent collections and vendor management. In short, the evidence for the commercial evolution to digital payment solutions and automated revenue tools in 2020 is widespread.

However, as things returned to some semblance of normal in 2021, pandemic-era innovation didn’t get pushed aside as some had predicted. Instead, it continued to dominate a growth trend that appears to be foundational to the evolution of modern commerce.

This trend was highlighted in a recent study of CFOs from organizations generating $400 million to $2 billion in revenue by PYMNTS and Corcentric, which found that 71% increased their businesses’ usage of digital payments since March 2020, 87% use fewer manual payment methods (e.g., check and cash) and 59% believe payments digitization is key to maintaining a healthy balance sheet. In addition, 84% said that digitization improved working capital, among other benefits such as enhanced efficiency, reduced costs and stronger data security.

As the study suggests, this trend greatly impacted both the demand and supply side of business. In fact, it appears that pandemic-era innovation may have had a more transformational and lasting effect on supply chain operations at upper middle-market and enterprise companies. For example, during the pandemic, entire accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR) and finance teams were no longer together and were met with the challenges of the remote environment and staffing shortages that hamstrung operations. Payment operations and automation, particularly around managing money movement, went from nice-to-have to must-have.

It is our view that the winners in the race to meet the demands of increasingly sophisticated payment flows associated with modern commerce will be won by those utilizing payment platforms that combine features of payments and banking — platforms that not only provide demand- and supply-side payment rails, but also offer embedded features of modern banking that escrow funds like a bank, but faster and with less friction. At Priority, we are building with intention toward the convergence of payments with embedded banking by offering a single platform to collect, store and send money that can quickly modernize legacy platforms and accelerate our partners’ effort to monetize payments.

Leveraging our tools allows partners to stop expending operational energy in maintaining and reconciling legacy systems, or making risky bets building new technology, so they can focus on customer demands to drive revenue while lowering overall operating expense.

At Corcentric, we stand ready to help.  To learn how we can help, contact Corcentric today.