Author Archives: David Gustin



About David Gustin

David runs a global research and advisory practice centered on helping financial institutions, vendors and corporations understand the intersection of trade services, trade credit, payments and the financial supply chain. His formal education includes an Information Systems and Economics degree from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from Purdue, and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation.


An update on Mastercard Track Business Payment Service & B2B Payments

purchase-to-pay

“We see every single invoice rendered by a supplier sent to a buyer as an opportunity for a better outcome for both buyer and supplier. That is a foundational principle.” — James Anderson, Executive Vice President, Commercial Products, Mastercard

When I first heard of Mastercard Track Business Payment Service a few years ago, it caught my eye as Mastercard realized that not all B2B payments were going to go on a card.

Mastercard launched Track in 2018 as a trade platform to address identity, compliance and payment management needs.

The initiative was driven out of the Enterprise Partnerships group with a focus on expanding Mastercard’s presence in the B2B payments world by addressing three problems in the Buyer-Supplier relationship:

  1. Identity: Easier supplier onboarding
  2. Data: Create the ability for richer data exchanges
  3. Payment Efficiency: Lowest cost rail given supplier preference

Mastercard Track Business Payment Service started by wanting to make the screening and onboarding of suppliers more efficient. This was both an ambitious and expensive project. My first thought was geez, another KYC tool in a space that was becoming increasingly crowded. My second thought was around the quality of the supplier data, particularly for the varied onboarding needs of banks, fintechs, payment agents and others. Standards for these different actors go from relatively lite (very lite) to extensive (banks and their requirements for beneficial ownership rules, etc.).

During that time, Mastercard had announced relationships with a number of source-to-pay and procure-to-pay solution providers — Basware, BirchStreet, Coupa — to name a few. The goal was to be a single point of contact for the data contained within all these networks, plus data on suppliers outside the network.

For the Spend Matters PRO, I caught up with James Anderson, the guy from the quote above who labels himself as a “swing for the fences” guy. James took over commercial two years ago with a mandate to grow the B2B business. Coming from the consumer side of Mastercard, he was surprised at how low-tech and manual B2B payments and AP were.

We discussed how he transitioned the initial start of Track to center on payments and the data around payments. Mastercard was trying to address payments from a card network approach, and James said this would not work at scale. James decided to flip the narrative, and focus on developing Mastercard Track Business Payment Service to support payments, not a separate business in and of itself. Mastercard Track Business Payment Service was not going to be another KYC tool, but a database of supplier payment preferences to deal with the massive complexity intrinsic to B2B transactions and payments.

BlueSnap solution overview — Global B2B marketplace and all-in-one payment platform

supplier network

This Spend Matters PRO article will focus on BlueSnap, a global provider of payment technology solutions to merchants and partners in North America, Europe, Israel, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

BlueSnap provides an all-in-one payment platform designed to support online and mobile sales, marketplaces, subscriptions, invoice payments and manual orders through a virtual terminal for B2B and B2C businesses. It offers merchants one integration, one account and one platform to accept payments globally.

The advent of cloud solutions has led to lower costs and easier access for companies to sell goods and services online. Today, B2B online marketplaces have unprecedented access to global markets. The proliferation of businesses selling products and services online has exploded, yet merchants often struggle with the vast number of tools and payment options required to create a seamless checkout experience for their global business customers.

The technology solutions offered by independent software vendors (ISVs) to enable marketplaces has generally lacked a comprehensive payment solution.

And it’s no wonder, this is no simple task.

Today’s B2B marketplaces require an end-to-end processing and a turnkey checkout solution, typically to support multi-currency authorization and settlement, global gateways, invoicing, risk and chargeback management, fraud prevention, etc. It is difficult to find all of these capabilities in one solution.

If you are going to roll out a global or regional e-commerce business, there is a lot to think about:

  • How do you accept more customer payment options, in more currencies, in more countries than just U.S. dollars?
  • If you use multiple gateway services and payment processing providers today, that creates additional IT costs and workflow challenges. How can you minimize the cost of running multiple gateways?
  • If you are doing a lot of overseas card billings — and working with a bank to do so — it’s costing you a fortune. Is there a better way to bill customers locally?
  • How do you manage to balance the need to convert more sales and manage new customer relationships, with fraud and chargeback concerns?

According to eMarketer, the mobile commerce and e-commerce purchase volume is expected to reach $6.3 trillion globally by 2024. While that includes B2C and B2B transactions, it represents significant growth from 2019’s $3.4 trillion. And while Amazon, Shopify and a few others represent a significant share of that volume, companies are rapidly deploying platforms to manage their business customer base online.

Selling in multiple markets can be confusing and costly for merchants. BlueSnap provides merchants one global gateway to streamline back-office functions into a unified system regardless of market, currency or payment medium.

Let’s take a look at BlueSnap and its solution capabilities.

TransferMate — Solution overview of cross-border payments capabilities

Supplier compliance

This Spend Matters PRO brief looks at the TransferMate solution and how the payments provider handles cross-border transactions.

More and more, companies are engaged on a cross-border basis as marketplace sellers — to pay freelancers, to handle global SaaS subscriptions or just to make payments not only to vendors but in support of contractors, one-off buys, landlords, etc.

But increasingly smaller and mid-size businesses — say those under $50 million — need the payments and currency management features of a global treasury system without all the other sophisticated bells and whistles. Today, the SWIFT messaging standard and the correspondent banking network is how the vast majority of cross-border payments move. Yet sending and receiving cross-border payments through banks can be a costly proposition for businesses. The old legacy model works, but it is antiquated and inefficient in terms of fees, foreign exchange markups and lack of transparency.

Over the last several years, the market has become increasingly competitive with vendors attempting to disrupt the status quo. Vendors combining cross-border payments and currency management can be thought of as global treasury networks offered as-a-service to small and mid-sized businesses. Core offerings include:

  • open multi-currency virtual bank accounts without the hassles of physical bank accounts
  • invoice and receive global payments from buyers anywhere
  • pay global suppliers in local currency (reducing their conversion costs and making it easier to do business)
  • turn cross-border payments into domestic ones, thereby reducing costs

Additional services could also be offered around working capital (lending), digital wallets, cards attached to the borderless account and VAT services.

TransferMate is one such vendor that enables businesses to send and receive payments in local currency with a few simple steps. They are regulated in 162 countries, with a money movement license in 51 U.S. states, as well as a technology interface that can eliminate problems of SWIFT reconcilement in addition to fee advantage and speed. Their aim is to simplify domestic and international payments for small and medium-size businesses.

Billtrust solution overview: A supplier-centric B2B payments offering

e-invoicing


Billtrust’s solution focuses on payments from a different angle.

B2B payments capabilities have almost always been viewed from the payer perspective. How do we get more manual or check payments electronically? How do I increase my rebates using a card program? How can we simplify cross-border payments? The list goes on.

From the source-to-pay vendor marketplace, and more specifically AP automation vendors, many have been attempting to add some payment capabilities beyond “OK-to-pay” status. We’ve analyzed several payments solutions, like Coupa Pay, Tiplati’s payment capabilities and Tradeshift Pay.

But how about if we looked at it from the payee perspective — the vendor or supplier? How about if we had someone that could present payment options that facilitate payment acceptance, balancing supplier preference and buyer convenience?

Most people don’t think to look to the accounts receivable (AR) vendors, or what the market calls order-to-cash.

Billtrust is a leader in this space and has been helping businesses accelerate order-to-cash. Billtrust’s solutions automates key areas of the payment cycle:

  • Credit decisioning and application
  • Invoice presentment
  • Invoice payment
  • Cash application
  • Collections


These solutions reduce DSO for clients and accelerate the time to present an invoice and apply cash. In 2019, the Billtrust order-to-cash solution processed over $1 trillion in receivables for leading companies, including customers Iron Mountain, Leica Microsystems, Holt CAT, and Acushnet (Pinnacle, Titleist & Footjoy).

So how can a company like Billtrust, with deep integration with major companies on the AR side, develop a payment solution to help both buyers and sellers?

Alibaba.com: Ecosystem marketplace designed for SMB (Overview & Analysis)

purchase-to-pay

Businessman Jack Ma had a vision to use technology to democratize global trade. Alibaba.com was born 21 years ago, and for the first 17 years, it was a way to source from China or find OEM companies, contractors, etc. Basically, it was a directory of Chinese OEM capability

But the vision was always for Alibaba.com to be beyond just a Chinese business directory. Since 2017, two transformations have been underway in earnest:

Transform the platform beyond Online Directory. By going beyond an electronic directory and allowing the buyer to communicate specs, draft contracts, communicate directly, pay through the platform, access order protection and trade financing, procure freight and inspection services, Alibaba has truly made this an ecosystem for sourcing. Move away from more Asia-focused supply base and diversify. The vast majority of suppliers are based in Asia. Food & Ag is a hot category in the U.S. Alibaba wants to diversify product selection on the platform, with a focus on OEM and original design manufacturer capabilities, as well as agriculture and wholesale. Target markets are Europe and the U.S.

Alibaba says it has over 15 million active buyers globally and has recently announced the launch of three new products in the U.S. market to help accelerate the digitization of SMBs during COVID-19. Alibaba unveiled in June 2020 three new products and services to help businesses source and sell online. The products and services include Alibaba.com Freight to enable American SMBs to secure ocean and air shipping for their orders, Alibaba.com Payment Terms to provide deferred payment on purchases, and Online Trade Shows USA to connect U.S. manufacturers and wholesalers with business buyers in an engaging, live online format.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to Alibaba.com, and how small and large buyers can benefit, particularly as they look to have other options beyond Amazon.

Implications of the Wirecard fraud case on B2B payments

I speak to many executives in the B2B payment industry, and the conversation usually turns to the Wirecard fraud case at some point. Typically, the first question is: How could more than $2 billion go missing and the business run for years before it goes bust?

Wirecard was the darling German fintech. What went wrong?

Corcentric Payments — Introduction and Solution Overview

Being in the source-to-pay (S2P) space with a competitive “last mile” payment offering these days is increasingly being viewed as a must-have.

There appears to be little doubt that B2B payments functionality is playing catchup when it comes to automation, compared to other key areas in the enterprise.

Most businesses, regardless of size, will look to their relationship banker for business payable and disbursement services. And why not? The banks have the regulations, legacy infrastructure, capital, KYC and AML compliance, and the correspondent network to handle payments. That’s what they do besides take deposits and make loans. But many financial institutions lack a proven, committed ability to integrate with ERP and S2P platforms, have limited supplier enablement capabilities, lack real-time dashboard reporting and cloud technology, and are poor at onboarding.

This is where source-to-pay vendors, with the right partner or set of partners, can put a competitive solution together that can compete on banks’ ability to offer higher rebates, lower transaction pricing and relationship.

No one said displacing the status quo would be easy.

Banks, given their credit relationships with clients, do offer a tough competitor, but the need to bring more efficiency and automation into B2B payments is becoming increasingly clear.

Today, we'll look at how Corcentric has added payments to its toolkit to help S2P customers that are looking for a payment solution that extends their AP automation capabilities. From a procurement and AP lens, Spend Matters has covered Corcentric and its recent acquisitions of Determine (see analysis here) and Netsend as well (see post here).

This Spend Matters PRO post will look at Corcentric Payments’ solution, how it works and the technology it uses.

Banks can do business payment innovation too: A look at U.S. Bank’s Instant Card

Millions of employees across the globe have adjusted to working remotely.

Amid the coronavirus disruption, some regions are beginning to see storefronts, businesses and factories slowly re-open. Whether employees are working remotely or starting to go back into the office, they need a way to make business purchases for things like home office supplies, PPE and cleaning essentials without having to use their personal credit cards.

In response, U.S. Bank fast-tracked the development of the U.S. Bank Instant Card, a fast, efficient and simple way for employees, contractors or consultants to make business purchases without complex expense reports or the need to be reimbursed.

This new solution allows a manager to instantly push a virtual corporate card to a mobile wallet for immediate use to make approved purchases, and they have the option to do it contactless. In essence, they created a replacement for petty cash with a quick and easy way to distribute a virtual card.

When it comes to innovation, banks are both not known for it, and certainly not in a speedy implementation fashion. But times are a changing, and the COVID-19 pandemic led U.S. Bank’s commercial payments group to figure out how they can help their 300,000 emerging middle-market customers develop a way to get petty cash in the hands of employees, contractors and other third parties quickly.

In this Spend Matters PRO article, we’ll take a look at the Instant Card and its capabilities.

Flush with cash: Should dynamic discounting be part of your investment strategy?

Regardless, one of the chief problems that cash-rich Treasurers are having is determining how to increase returns GIVEN current policy restrictions for the types of investments that can be made. What if you invest the cash into higher yielding assets? There are a lot of things you can do. What risk are you willing to take on? Do you want BB- bonds for higher yield? What are your restrictions for the types of investments that can be made? What type of illiquidity can you live with?

One option is to broaden self-funding to all your suppliers with an early pay program.