In Part 1 of this Q&A with Laurent Charpentier, chief innovation officer at Yooz North America, he gave his thoughts on the legitimacy of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin—all continuing to be hot topics in today’s daily business news. And all still a bit of a mystery to most of us.
Now Charpentier offers his views on these up-and-coming disruptive technologies might impact the accounts payable (AP) process. In a good way.
Q: How does blockchain apply to the accounts payable process?
When you consider the procure to payment (P2P) workflow specifically, an important part of the process is matching an invoice to the P.O. That can also be the step where delays or errors happen. With this platform, the records are all stored in the blockchain, and the provenance, authenticity, and accuracy of these records are guaranteed. There would be no need to check an invoice against a P.O. One day, it might even eliminate the need for an invoice. Blockchain can be a smart contract between trading partners and also help the financial operations team become more strategic. It can also connect vendors to buyers, and customers to business.
At Yooz we’re already doing much of that with our cloud-based AP Automation solution, helping companies evolve from a manual, paper-laden process to a digital, fully automated workflow. From there, going from digital to blockchain doesn’t seem like such a huge leap.
Q: From a thought-leader viewpoint, what industries or companies will be the next big adopters?
Charpentier: It’s not just financial institutions. I read how Walmart is using blockchain to manage food safety in its supply chain. This indicates that any business with global shipping and logistics can benefit. I project advertising and real estate will be two others. And of course, crowdfunding, which has become a popular way for small businesses, start-ups, and causes to fund a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people via the Internet.
Entire processes can be tracked in one blockchain ledger. One day maybe even replacing a company’s books.
Q: What problem do you think blockchain and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin solves?
Charpentier: I see the potential for a common global currency. Think about it. Now, when you are transferring money internationally, for example, you need a lot of information—the other party’s bank account information, exchange rates, data and fraud protection, etc. All of this is solved by blockchain. It can disrupt our reliance on traditional banks. Would we even still need banks? We are operating in a global economy bogged down by so many different types of currencies and bank regulations from country to country. This could streamline business transactions across nations.
It’s fascinating to imagine what a new world bank would look like!