The settlement department of any large company is an essential function that is vital to the financial stability and success of the entire company. Technology has made many of the corporate functions in a company easier, more efficient and faster. So why have things lagged in the settlement departments of the world's largest energy companies?
Many settlements departments are overrun by paper and manual processes that are time consuming and potentially financially draining. It's not just the paper trail that can be overwhelming in an energy department, it's the amount of data that is produced and that must be analyzed on a continual basis. In an energy company, to keep things moving, complex financial transactions, payments, both in and out of the company, must be scrutinized, analyzed and reported on in a very specific manner and often up
It's Not Just About The Money
With a single invoice that could total several million dollars, the settlement department's functions are vital for the well-being of the entire company cash flow, solvency, risk rating and credit rating. The supply chain in an energy company is volatile, risky and complex. Just a single factor can cause delays in payments and processes which could cause a corporate catastrophe if not managed well. Of course, with process driven by humans there is always the chance of errors creeping in, and while energy companies are cash flush and prices are high, it can be easy to overlook the overall inefficiency of this important part of the energy industry.
How Fintech is Changing The Energy Industry
Fintech has made great improvements in many other industries and has now started to work in the energy sector to bring much needed governance, through automation which will help with efficiency, while lowering expenses and credit risk for energy companies. It all starts with the data. Currently analysts must pull data from diverse sources and blend it into a single output which requires time and runs the risk of potentially very expensive errors. Fintech innovation and systems help relieve this manual system by being able to pull in data from disparate sources and help settlement departments process financial transactions faster, and more accurately.
Cutting operational costs is a welcome byproduct of a more efficient system, but the key to utilizing fintech in the energy industry remains in being able to facilitate, make a receive payments faster using technology, not only for the actual transactions, but to process payments through a settlement department freeing up analysts to perform in-depth audit functions that will help speed-up the entire process. Centralized data systems across the whole industry will help provide a smooth transition to a more automated system for settlements. Data integration and collaboration will ensure that systems run more efficiently across all departments in the supply chain.
Fintech has the potential to be a massive disruptor in the energy sector. From processing payments to supply chain data risk management to cash flow analysis and prediction. Its potential extends far beyond the back-office, it could help transform the entire industry.
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