Procurement Financials Content

Mastercard Track: A Gateway to a New Kind of B2B Ecosystem (Part 2) — SWOT Analysis and Market Implications [PRO]

Over a decade ago, American Express led the payments way in making innovative investments aimed at procurement organizations and their suppliers, primarily through its venture and partnership arms. (Remember MarketMile/Ketera, anyone?) But more recently, it appears that Mastercard has picked up the B2B innovation mantle, opting to organically build a solution aimed at buyers and suppliers with procurement front and center in the business case crosshairs. This new solution, Track, surprised us in multiple ways (click here for an introduction to Track), especially for its audacious supplier network vision (and we might add also for what it is not doing, at least not yet).

Is the tail of Mastercard’s new supplier network offering — comprised of a trade directory, supply risk monitoring capability and payment ledger — wagging the payments dog? The answer might surprise you. This purebred procurement solution can hunt without even hinting at the need to enable a virtual or corporate card swipe.

Indeed, with its new Track solution, Mastercard appears quite serious about the procurement and supplier management market beyond just finding creative ways of leveraging its rails to enable payments. With this new product release, Mastercard stands in contrast to American Express, among others, which still appears to be taking the same old B2B payments and financing pooch out for a walk, albeit with an updated veneer for the digital working capital era.

But before we drown in our doggy metaphors, let’s analyze what’s good — and what’s not so good — about Mastercard’s first generation Track release and what it means for procurement organizations, supporting services providers (e.g., consultancies) and the procurement technology sector as a whole.

Mastercard Track: A Gateway to a New Kind of B2B Ecosystem (Part 1) — Vendor Introduction and Solution Overview [PRO]

B2B payments represent a significant opportunity for payments providers. Within the U.S. alone, Deloitte research suggests that B2B payments are expected to reach $23.1 trillion by 2020, following a 5.8% CAGR since 2014, with large enterprises accounting for more than 60% of all transaction volume. Financial institutions, however, have placed comparatively less emphasis on the B2B space in favor of B2C transactions, which in spite of their smaller relative total size present less complexity in terms of technological and process problems to solve. Yet this is beginning to change. Banks, payment providers and other institutions are doubling down on the opportunities in B2B, and some are even starting to get their foot in the door by offering software targeted toward procurement organizations. For example, Mastercard has been rolling out its new Track solution in partnership with major banks and P2P and S2P suite providers and via public demonstrations at vendor conferences like Basware Connect and Ivalua NOW. Following the integration of Track’s payment capabilities with Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP) last year, Mastercard is getting its procurement technology start in, of all things, supplier master data and risk management. This may seem like an odd fit, especially when there are other technology providers offering similar — or in some cases, far more sophisticated — tools for managing supplier data and tracking third-party risk. As many B2B “old timers” know, banks and payment networks (Mastercard included) have been trying to insert themselves into P2P processes for nearly 20 years, and the results have been a failure every time, because they were always about funneling the transactions to their payment networks in order to charge suppliers 2% to 3% processing fees. This relegated these initial efforts to tail spend and highlighted how they couldn’t add value to the broader S2P process.

But we think this solution from Mastercard actually has huge potential and will likely be a market disruptor. Why? Well, from a practitioner standpoint, what would you think of a vendor who took all your supplier master data and then ran it through its “magic engine” and then showed you all the duplicates and supplier risk warning flags — and they did this on a freemium basis? That should catch your attention. And it should catch the competitive attention of D&B, LexisNexis, supplier networks, supplier risk/intelligence providers, supplier discovery tools and others that play in this space, as well as the partnering attention of S2P application providers that want an instant supplier network partner that can do more than process low-dollar transactions on a payment network.

Mastercard is just starting the first act of a longer, platform-based play, and the question today is simple: Is this “priceless” MDM and supplier risk solution worth a look? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Because unlike other services in the space, Track takes the long view, supporting Mastercard’s aspiration to enable and connect into a global B2B ecosystem of multiple services, from business identity and risk management to payment facilitation and trade finance. And while we expect many of Track’s initial capabilities and partner offerings to evolve over time — what Mastercard has been publicly demonstrating over the past several months is more of a minimum viable product than a fully matured and battle-tested solution — the first cut is worthy of a deeper dive.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Mastercard Track and its initial capabilities. Part 1 includes an introduction of Mastercard’s offering and a breakdown what the solution can (and can’t) currently do. Part 2 will provide a SWOT analysis and our key recommendations to interested parties (procurement organizations, technology providers, supporting services providers) evaluating Track as encountered through partner P2P or S2P providers.

Can Source-to-Pay Networks Go Beyond the Approved Invoice?

e-invoicing

Many source-to-pay (S2P) networks struggle to monetize their supplier ecosystem, and a few are looking to change things by using their network data to be more innovative with early pay finance, particularly invoice finance.

For those not familiar with invoice finance, there are three stages where it can be done:

2019 M&A and Investment Dynamics For Procurement Technology and Solutions: Segmenting the Market (Part 1) [PRO]

Private equity — and other — buyout and M&A interest in the procurement solutions market is at an all-time high. We define procurement solutions as technologies and services that target a range of areas that include:

— Core procurement (i.e., source-to-pay, procure-to-pay, etc.)
— Direct procurement
— Services procurement
— Contract management (that goes beyond supplier contracts)
— Accounts payable
— Trade financing (B2B Fintech)
— B2B (transactional connectivity, marketplaces, aggregation and GPO models)
— Third-party (supplier) management from a GRC standpoint as much as from a procurement standpoint

This multi-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the “who” (i.e., what types of companies are attracting the most interest and the profile of different buyers), the “why” (i.e, typical investment theses) and the “how” (i.e., the mechanics of deal processes and what is unique to the solution area, including where buyers that are new to the sector often have a higher learning curve than expected). It also explores some important dynamics in the market that have changed in recent months as buyer interest from both the strategic and financial sides increases.

Today we begin by exploring the “who” by segmenting the types of targets that are garnering the most attention into 10 areas and exploring the first five in detail (procurement technology suites, transaction-focused solutions, payment/financing providers, nimble solutions and leveraged buying / GPO models), including sharing illustrative providers in each segment and why buyers are attracted to each group.

* Our parent company, Azul Partners, has directly advised on more than half a dozen transactions in recent quarters, primarily working in a due diligence and strategy capacity for both strategic and financial buyers, leveraging our proprietary SolutionMap benchmark database, customer satisfaction/peer review benchmarks, PRO research, SolutionMap Insider research, and deep domain knowledge. Azul Partners works with investors in two ways. First, we partner with clients as exclusively retained subject matter experts in these markets. Second, we serve as an “arms dealers,” providing subscription research to hundreds of clients.

Deferred Buyer Payment Solutions: The Search for the Holy Grail

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

Most discussions about early payment solutions focus on buyer-centric models, ones that scale by bringing technology, managed services and perhaps some underwriting to offer supplier finance. This is a big opportunity that top providers have been going after for years, of course, and the potential market is huge. But the flip side of the coin, deferred payment solutions, where sellers are paid early (or based on their standard terms) and small buyers can extend those terms outward to 90 or 180 days, is a less understood market — both in terms of potential, technologies and the type of underwriting to manage losses.

PPC: On Late Payment — Regulate, Shame or Just Deal with It?

There was some recent shaming of some very large companies by the UK government that did not comply with the Prompt Payment Code (PPC). Seventeen large companies, including heavyweights such as Vodafone, Rolls Royce, SSE and British Sugar, were suspended pending promises to fall into line.

Short of legislation, shame can be a tool. But when we think of the damage that large corporates have done far beyond late payment (i.e., Purdue Pharma & the opioid crisis, Lehmans & the Financial crisis, etc.) without paying any price, you have to wonder how effective shaming will be.

Goldilocks, Capital Structure and Supply Chain Finance

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

Ahhh. This porridge is just right.”

— from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”

The Goldilocks principle is named by analogy to the children's story “The Three Bears,” in which finding the right temperature for porridge took some sampling.

So how do you make sure the porridge is just right if you are today’s middle market treasurer and need to balance liquidity, access to capital (and if rated, a quality rating), and ensuring the right amount of cash?

Most middle market companies are not flush with cash. In fact, when thinking of capital structure, there are many things that keep the CFO/treasurer up at night.

What’s the Big Deal Behind Vodafone’s Supply Chain Finance Program?

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

In a recent TXF article on Vodafone's supply chain finance program and its early pay program, Oliver Gordon, features editor, said: “Vodafone has been using complex financial engineering devised by GAM and Greensill to enable it to profit from and invest in its own SCF offerings and bolster its DPO (days payable outstanding).”

Personally, I have no problem with a company wanting to use its cash to self-fund an early payment program for their suppliers in exchange for discounts. Many large corporates implement some form of dynamic discounting that enables their long tail suppliers, and specific segments — diversity suppliers, choice suppliers, small businesses — access to early payment once an invoice has been approved. In fact, this practice has been going on for decades and now technology allows companies to systematize it and offer it to select suppliers, different supplier segments or all suppliers.

I also have no problem if a company wants to use this construct to invest in their own payables or some other company’s payables. But this does bring up three important questions.

E-Invoicing: How To Diagnose if Your Deployment and Solution is World-Class [Plus+]

e-invoicing

As our journey to world-class e-invoicing continues in this multi-part Spend Matters Plus research brief, we discuss five additional elements to diagnose the overall scope, capability and coverage of your e-invoicing deployment — and whether or not your solution provider(s) can enable you to get to world-class levels of performance. If you want to catch up on this series, we encourage you to learn about all the components of the first five elements (invoice capture, collaboration/workflow, matching, compliance/validations and mobile enablement) and a broader introduction to the topic in first installment of this series. Finally, we invite Spend Matters practitioner and consulting advisory clients to reach out to us to discuss their existing and planned deployments. E-invoicing is far more complex a solution area to analyze than e-procurement, in large part because solution capabilities and organizational requirements show so much variation compared with each other.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 3) [PRO]

In recent years, Oracle has transformed itself from the inside out, from a procurement solutions perspective, putting its full force behind building a suite of applications designed for the cloud — rather than behind the firewall.

It has reinforced this product development and go-to-market effort with strong incentives to existing customers to migrate from E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards to its Cloud solutions line. And it has successfully been targeting new procurement customers — some of which do not have an Oracle back-end.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a recap and summary of Oracle’s Cloud procurement applications, shares insight into roadmap direction for the suite and explores recent investments in artificial intelligence and other enabling technologies. Organizations wanting a primer on Oracle Procurement Cloud can read our Vendor Snapshot series: Background/Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses and Summary, and Competitive Overview/Recommendations.

Why Payment Companies are Missing an Opportunity with Early Pay (Part 2)

Small Business Credit

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

As we pointed out in our last post, payment companies are looking to convert paper checks to cards, and this is drawing interest from many firms, from private equity investing into payment companies to acquisitions (e.g., Fleetcor acquiring Nvoicepay, Visa buying Earthport). The key weapon of payment companies is to leverage interchange fees to entice their clients (buyers) through rebates and extended terms to provide an early pay option for suppliers, typically with a discount from the invoice of 2% to 3%. Yet there are several reasons why a “card only” strategy from payment companies is suboptimal.

Financial Services Industry to Face Technology Disruptions over Next 5 Years, Report Says

During the decade since the global financial crisis, the financial services industry has experienced major technological disruption, experts say. However, a new report states that 52% of financial leaders say their leadership teams do not appreciate the possible results of continued technology disruption. According to research released by the advisory and support services specialist Vuealta, “The Future of Financial Services: Planning for Every Eventuality,” the financial services industry may face an array of challenges and disruptors during the next five years.