Millions in Government Grants Efficiently and Safely Disbursed to Small Businesses using SparcPay
When Small Business BC (SBBC) was selected as a delivery partner for British Columbia’s $300 million Business Recovery Grant to help businesses cope in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to quickly ramp up the systems required to fulfill their role in the vital program. SBBC was tasked with identifying, vetting and engaging a roster of over a thousand professional service providers, matching them with eligible businesses, and ensuring recovery plans were completed in a timely manner.
One of the key deliverables for SBBC was to receive, review, approve and pay invoices from the professional service providers on behalf of the BC government. This meant disbursing millions of dollars to thousands of providers in a short timeframe. Since SBBC did not have the resources, processes, or controls required to manage these disbursements, a manual solution or temporary labour was simply not an option. They needed a technology solution that was easily deployed, with the highest level of controls and security to be able to process these payments quickly - without taking on risk.
“That’s where SparcPay came in, and was the ideal solution for us” said Joshua Ludgate, Vice President of Operations for SBBC. “The deployment was quick, the service providers were able to easily self-enroll, and the processing and monitoring was quite seamless. In a very short timeframe we disbursed millions of dollars to over a thousand providers quickly and accurately, without a single technical issue. The technology proved to be invaluable in this program. That’s why we will be relying on SparcPay again for future projects.”
Sparcblock selected by Intuit Prosperity Accelerator
The Intuit Prosperity Accelerator is a partnership between Intuit Canada and Highline Beta, where a cohort of global seed-stage tech startups will help solve specific pressing financial prosperity challenges that Canadian consumers, self-employed and small businesses will be facing in the wake of COVID-19. The inaugural cohort was selected based on their commitment to building durable solutions that help consumers eliminate debt, build savings and enable financial literacy; and/or help self-employed and small businesses improve cash flow, attract customers and access help. "This promising group of startups bring a true passion and commitment to solving for their customers - a value that is at the heart of Intuit's mission of Powering Prosperity Around the World," said David Marquis, Country Manager at Intuit Canada. "Over the coming months, this collaboration with the startup ecosystem will allow us to innovate with velocity and purpose. I am inspired by the opportunity to expand the scope of our impact for Canadians in the wake of COVID-19." "We have been impressed with the calibre of the applications, and I am thrilled to welcome these eight amazing companies to the inaugural cohort," says Benjamin Yoskovitz, Founding Partner at Highline Beta. "They are all tackling complex problems – from financial advice accessibility to handling payroll, and estate planning to life insurance. We look forward to supporting these companies and getting pilot solutions off the ground." "COVID-19 has created distinct challenges for Canadians, and start-ups are no exception," noted Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. "The Intuit Prosperity Accelerator is an exciting initiative to support Canada's start-up ecosystem and foster innovative, digital solutions to help small businesses and Canadians with their financial health at this challenging time. Congrats to these eight start-ups joining this Canadian accelerator!" Learn more here
Shiftsuite users gain an unfair advantage with safe and convenient paperless payables
Paperless payables create an unfair advantage in property management. Available with the world's best condo software ecosystem, Shiftsuite, digital approval and payment is an experience that is safe, convenient and environmentally friendly.
It’s powered by SparcPay, which is plug-and-play with Shiftsuite – with vendor, bill, purchase order and account data synchronized in real time. It saves time for the property management company while delivering the ultimate in convenience and financial control to the board members. That's why it is already being leveraged by leading property management companies including Meritus Group Management, Malvern Condominium Property Management, Lionheart Property Management, GSA Property Management, iCondo Property Management and many others to deliver a competitive advantage that drives growth.
Paperless payables are a game changer for Malvern Condominium Management
Malvern Condominium Property Management implemented SparcPay to save time, and provided their clients with an exceptional user experience with more transparency and financial control. SparcPay met all of their expectations, and also enabled them to do more work remotely, keeping their team members and clients safer in light of COVID-19 precautions. SparcPay is a web-based digital solution that replaces paper bills and cheques with a paperless process that is far more efficient and secure.
“I love it” says Malvern President Bill Thompson. “SparcPay saves the time that we used to spend carrying around cheques, and chasing down paperwork. Now all the bills and payments are paperless, and it’s easy to look up the status at anytime. There are no longer any lost cheques or missing invoices misplaced during processing. It’s also more convenient for condominium directors as they can review and approve bills from anywhere using a computer or mobile phone. I have been looking for a solution to digitize payables for years – and now we have it. It’s a game changer. Now our Managers can spend the time that they saved from invoice and cheque processing on the really important matters, like customer service and quality control for our clients.”
The Meritus Group Leads with Contactless Payments
The Meritus Group, a leading property management company switched to digital approval and payment to replace outdated paper payables processes. "When we launched SparcPay one of the advantages was the protection of managers and board members. By minimizing the paper flowing between management, board members and suppliers we could work both faster and safer" says Dean McCabe, President of the Meritus Group, "SparcPay is proving to be a reliable and efficient replacement for cheques. The investment in the new process is paying off.”
Working Virtually When You Have Signing Authority
Social distancing, self-isolation, and working remotely are important tools to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19. What about those people that have cheque signing authority - can they maintain these practices while still making the payments that are critical to their organization? The answer fortunately is yes. By switching from paper bills and cheques to digital approval and payment, we can protect ourselves and our communities from unneccesary risk, which is why the World Health Organization recommends digital payments to reduce the risk of transmission. It's easy to get started and it can all be done from the comfort of your home. Now more than ever, it's time to use digital approval and payment.
It's 2020 - Can you let go of the cheque now?
It's hard to let go of the cheque! According to the latest Payments Canada report, organizations still write 460 million commercial cheques in Canada each year. That's down slightly, but still a huge number. It spells opportunity for organizations to save money by switching to alternatives like SparcPay. With digital payment and approval there is so more control convenience that we're making it easy to let go of the cheque.
CONVENIENCE AND CONTROL
City Sites Property Management, a leader in providing creative solutions for property management, was also the first property management company in Canada to implement SparcPay as a value added service which is now available to all their clients. Their Vice-President, Nicholas Chirametli calls SparcPay an innovation in condominium financial management providing the very best in convenience and financial control.
ATTENTION BOARD MEMBERS
If your association, church or non-profit is still asking board members to sign cheques, why not try SparcPay - a secure digital approval and payment app that saves time and money.
We are offering a free trial for QuickBooks Online users - click here to learn more.
Please share this to others you know that serve on volunteer boards...
Canadian businesses and not-for-profit organizations consume 75,000 trees per year issuing paper cheques to suppliers.
Being good to the earth is also good for your bottom line - paperless payments save over 50% in transaction costs.
IT'S TIME TO STOP SIGNING CHEQUES
How many of us still refer to an encyclopedia, look up a number in a phone book, or get directions from a paper map? For that matter how many of us still use personal cheques to pay bills? We stopped using these obsolete tools years ago, or are too young to have ever used them. Yet many of us serve on a not-for-profit board, or run a small to medium-sized business, and on a frequent basis are handed a stack of paper cheques for signature.
Personally, I don't like signing them - I get writer's cramp. I don't like having to make a special trip to sign that "urgent" cheque - it's a waste of my time. I don't like flipping through the attachments to make sure that one paper clip didn't accidentally slip over another cheque that I might miss, resulting in another trip for the missed signature.
I bet the staff that print the cheques and paper clip the backup documents to them don't like doing that either. And I'm pretty sure they don't like having to chase around people like me trying to get a signature. And after the stack is finally signed, they probably don't like having to mail the cheques and file the documents that came with them.
And after all that, I doubt the suppliers want to receive an envelope with a paper cheque that they have to deposit, when they could receive an electronic payment.
There have, at least in the past, been reasons to continue to use paper rather than electronic forms of payment:
1) Control: Signing a paper cheque ensured that the responsible party saw and approved the payment, and could send it or hold it if they chose.
2) Review: All that backup documentation behind the paper clip allowed a review of the details related to the requested payment. Most bank or other electronic payment methods didn't provide this level of review.
3) Remittance Details: The memo field or cheque skirt indicates what exactly is being paid in case there are multiple bills outstanding. Again, most bank or other electronic payment methods didn't provide this important information to suppliers.
Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point that these barriers have been overcome:
1) Control: Approvals can be digitally recorded on a blockchain. Immutable and irrefutable, they are far more secure than a signature (as banks don't usually check signatures anyway). Approvals can be done from anywhere, anytime, and the timing of the payment is controlled by the approver.
2) Review: With the option for integration to the accounting system and/or the ability to attach images or emails, digital approval can allow for detailed review without a stack of paperwork.
3) Remittance Details: Some electronic payment solutions also offer electronic remittance details that provides more timely and complete information than paper ever could.
And there are other reasons to switch to an electronic payables solution:
4) Cost: Issuing a paper cheque typically costs over $6, while an efficient electronic system will save over 50% of this cost.
5) Convenience: The ability to securely review and approve payments from anywhere, including using a mobile device,eliminates the need for signers to be physically present.
6) Environment: Less paper printed, copied and mailed makes the process more environmentally friendly.
Considering all this, doesn't it make sense to stop signing cheques and insist on a more secure, convenient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution?
AMJ CAMPBELL MOVES FIRST WITH BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
AMJ Campbell, Canada’s largest mover, is also a first-mover with blockchain technology to streamline and secure their accounting processes, having successfully transitioned from paper cheques to a paperless digital payables process using blockchain.
"Blockchain is a disruptive technology and we are embracing it to replace outdated paper processes," said Bruce Bowser, chief executive officer of AMJ Campbell. "Sparcblock is improving how we transact with our vendors, to ultimately better serve our customers."
Paper cheques are still prevalent in many business-to-business (B2B) transactions, yet cheques are expensive to issue, and more susceptible to fraud than any other payment method. Seventy-four per cent of companies reported that they were targeted by cheque fraud according to a 2018 survey by the Association of Financial Professionals.
The new digital process, enabled by Toronto technology firm Sparcblock, is a fully integrated solution providing review and approval capability using a web portal or mobile device, with quick payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
AMJ Campbell’s chief financial officer, Jennette Empaynado, stated “With the Sparcblock solution we spend less time in data entry, filing, and paper handling, while maintaining a secure approval process that provides the ability to do detailed review without the paper. We are saving at least 50% in time spent processing payments.”
Every transaction is digitally signed to provide heightened security and a full audit trail. It is also automatically synchronized to the accounting system and an enterprise grade blockchain built on Hyperledger Fabric to ensure there are no inconsistencies or confusion.
“Sparcblock’s mission is to change business for the better by streamlining B2B transactions” says Wally Vogel, co-founder and director of Sparcblock. “As consumers, we process digital payments, but by contrast B2B transactions are still to a large extent paper-based which is costly and time-consuming. Our technology is changing that, and innovators like AMJ Campbell are leading the way.”