Indian businesses lead global optimism: American Express survey

Indian businesses are leading the way in global optimism, with 72% of them anticipating a surge in B2B spending in 2023. This outlook surpasses the global average of 49%, as per a survey conducted by American Express. The growth in B2B spending in India is primarily driven by increased investments in technology, with 88% of businesses planning to allocate more funds to technological advancements in the latter half of 2023, compared to the first half. These findings were unveiled in the Trendex: B2B edition survey, commissioned by American Express in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Another pivotal factor fueling the expected spending surge is related to business travel, as 72% of businesses are looking to increase their expenditures on travel, entertainment, and expenses. Business and professional services also hold significant importance, with 68% of Indian businesses expecting to spend more in this category for the remainder of the year. An impressive 88% of businesses in India are optimistic about the future success of their companies for the upcoming year, exceeding the global Trendex average of 77%.

Mr. Manish Kapoor, Vice President and Head of Global Commercial Services (GCS) at American Express Banking Corp., India, highlighted a noteworthy aspect: “It’s noteworthy that a substantial 84% of Indian businesses have taken steps to partially automate payments to their suppliers, with an impressive 39% achieving full automation of their payment processes. As the business landscape becomes increasingly competitive, the need to adopt smarter and more efficient payment solutions becomes paramount. For example, corporate cards, with their offering of extended payment terms, rewards on B2B expenditures, and seamless payment convenience, can make their spending more rewarding and efficient, effectively earning as they spend.”

The survey further reveals that an overwhelming 92% of Indian businesses consider improving payment security as a top priority. A substantial 90% of Indian businesses also agree that managing cash flow and working capital has gained greater significance over the past year. Automation in payments is on the rise, with 84% of Indian businesses having at least partially automated payments to suppliers, and 39% having fully automated their payment processes.

Key Business Spend Priorities:

Technology Takes the Lead: Technology is the top spending priority, with 88% of businesses planning to allocate more funds to technological advancements. This is driven by the desire to improve payment speed and effectiveness (71%), enhance productivity (69%), and meet customer demands for more digital products (63%).

Advertising & Marketing: 79% of businesses intend to increase their investments in advertising and marketing to explore new marketing channels (69%), target international markets (58%), and promote new products and services (58%).

Travel, Entertainment, and Expenses: Of the 72% of businesses expecting to increase spending in this category, the main reason is the anticipation of attending more industry events (68%) to network, gain industry insights, and explore potential partnerships. Businesses are also increasing domestic (63%) and international (60%) business travel to expand their reach and establish global connections.

Business and Professional Services: Increased spending on IT and technology consultancy services (61%) is the most selected reason for higher business and professional services spending expectations. Many businesses are also seeking increased accountancy and financial advice (59%) to navigate financial challenges. Of the businesses spending more on business and professional services, 67% attribute it to increased spending on IT and technology consultancy.

Automation in Payments:

The survey reveals that 84% of Indian businesses have partially automated payments to suppliers, with 39% having fully automated their payment processes. Among those businesses with mostly or fully automated processes, 58% report faster and more accurate invoicing, while 54% note a reduction in human errors.

Furthermore, 86% of Indian businesses plan to start automating or increasing the level of automation for receiving payments from customers, and 83% intend to increase their current level of automation for payments made to suppliers. For businesses that haven’t automated all their payments, 34% are seeking partners to assist in automating their payment processes.

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