Why did Visa exit Syncada?

When U.S. Bancorp bought back the shares of Syncada from Visa back in 2013 and turned around and put the old Powertrack business back within US Bank’s Corporate Payments Group, many wondered why Visa left without any news announcement.   We first broke the news here on Spend Matters site (see Visa Exits Syncada Relationship).  Most of Syncada’s management has left, including Kurt Schneiber, CEO, Kathleen Nugent, Global Head Product solutions,  and Cedric Bru, who is now at Taulia.

Syncada’s creation stems from PowerTrack, an online platform for invoice processing, payment and trade financing, launched by U.S. Bancorp in 1997.   Back in July 2009, Syncada divested the PowerTrack product platform in order to merge with Visa’s commercial payment and network management.

Syncada’s offering was segmented into two main lines:

  • The old Powertrack business, which provides an outsourcing platform to large corporations to manage freight payables. The platform’s roots are in the freight and transportation sector and conducting freight payments and audits is still their bread and butter.
  • A platform to enable banks to offer their commercial clients a B2B payable business with access to Syncada’s platform, services and network.

In 2012, Syncada processed more than USD $21 billion in payments and millions of invoices and trade documents, so it is not a trivial business. The lion’s share of this business was freight payables, and was supported by two main banks – U.S. Bank and Citibank. Each bank has dedicated Freight Payable sales staff to market the offering. The model is to provide a corporate buyer an option to outsource freight bill auditing and reconciliation and combine that with a credit line to enable the buyer’s transportation clients to fund these receivables.  Banks onboard carriers and can give carriers access to funds early against the credit line.

Why did Visa leave?

I’ve never received a formal statement, but the basis for the investment was to take a successful freight payment system and make it a general payable solution and go global at same time using the Visa Network.  Syncada was being used exclusively for freight transportation payments, so making this transition to a global provider of general payables services proved challenging and ultimately an exit.

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