New arrangements put in place this week by Visa and American Express will help simplify digital payments for B2B ecommerce firms and other B2B digital marketers.
Corporate payment specialist WEX Inc. announced a deal on Monday to work with American Express to allow clients to make payments with virtual cards, reports Digital Transactions. Concurrently, Visa Inc. unveiled plans to team with Billtrust to develop an electronic payments network for corporate suppliers, dubbed the Business Payments Network (BPN).
The potential for change is significant. An AFP Electronic Payments survey shows that paper checks still represent 51 percent of B2B payments in the U.S. Visa’s Commercial Consumption Expenditure Index estimates B2B payments are in the range of $24 trillion annually.
“BPN is designed to close the loop on the electronic payment cycle in a more transparent and secure way, to more closely replicate the way consumers today pay,” said Flint Lane, CEO of Billtrust, in a statement. “Creating this type of customer experience in the B2B space is extremely important to us and the industry.”
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Visa and Billtrust began their collaboration last year, integrating Billtrust’s Virtual Card Capture and Visa’s Straight Through Processing Solutions for B2B payments.
“There is a great deal of momentum now building around the digitalization of corporate financial processes,” said Steve Murphy, research director, Mercator Advisory Group, in a statement. “This often starts with paper replacement through electronic information exchange, ultimately leading to an environment where buyers and suppliers can make, receive and settle payments in a streamlined and transparent manner. It is often easier said than done.”
Virtual cards aren’t an ideal solution for corporate payments, notes Digital Transactions writer John Stewart, because at the receiving end there is often manual processing needed.