Visa and Billtrust are collaborating on the latter’s Business Payments Network (BPN), which is designed to optimize the delivery of electronic B2B payments to suppliers.


Image: Visa headquarters at Metro Center in Foster City. Photo: courtesy of Coolcaesar.

As a unique supplier-driven B2B payments network, BPN provides a transparent registry of suppliers who accept digital payments, giving buyers and financial institutions the necessary access to automate what has historically been a complex process.

BPN makes it easier than ever to harness the increased efficiencies, greater security and lower costs associated with processing digital payments, without needing to make significant changes to existing infrastructure.

Visa Business Solutions global head Kevin Phalen said: “As businesses evolve, digital payments will play an increasingly important role in B2B commerce.

“Collaborating with Billtrust on the Business Payments Network will allow us to improve the experience for suppliers on the receiving end of the payment, while enabling our financial institution clients to streamline the B2B payments process for their corporate customers and provide a better way for buyers and suppliers to realize the benefits that digital payments provide.”

Recent estimates show that paper checks still represent roughly 51% of U.S. B2B payment volumes. The ubiquity of check acceptance in the U.S. has been a key reason it has remained the leading form of payment despite its many disadvantages.

Buyers and suppliers have already recognized the advantages of digitizing payments, including less manual touch, improved fraud controls and enhanced reconciliation. However, the current lack of connectivity between existing B2B payment platforms remains the largest barrier to adoption.

Suppliers simply don’t have the systems and processes in place to accept the increasingly complex forms of payment that buyers and their financial institutions want to send.

BPN is designed to address current industry challenges by:

Providing a connected platform for suppliers, buyers, financial institutions, and accounts payable and accounts receivable software providers

Publishing an online directory that contains a full view of participating suppliers and their payment acceptance preferences

Providing financial institutions and corporate buyers with ability to deliver digital payments directly to the suppliers’ acceptance platforms

Enabling complex financial and payment data to seamlessly come together at scale while delivering streamlined reconciliation to suppliers and buyers.

Billtrust CEO Flint Lane said: “Today, suppliers have to balance their own payment preferences with the preferences of their customers’ accounts payable departments – and those two preferences don’t always sync up.

“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 and get paid, quickly, simply and seamlessly. Creating this type of customer experience in the B2B space is extremely important to us and the industry.”

Commerce Bank commercial card SVP Roger Williams said: “With estimates showing the U.S. B2B payments market in the range of $24 trillion annually2, streamlining efficiencies by adopting innovations such as virtual card payments and other digital payment types can lead to billions of dollars saved.

“Our corporate customers are looking for a solution that can intelligently handle their evolving B2B payments needs and preferences, while reducing costs and risks associated with paper-based processes. We are excited that Visa and Billtrust are working together to address these industry wide challenges.”

Mercator Advisory Group research director Steve Murphy said: “There is a great deal of momentum now building around the digitalization of corporate financial processes to improve cash cycle control and performance, leading to reduced cost and risk, along with gaining more strategic insight using captured transaction data as an analytic base.

“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. This collaboration between Visa and Billtrust, using a digital platform and business network approach, is great way for companies to accelerate their financial process modernization via a supplier-centric approach.”

In 2017, Visa and Billtrust announced a strategic relationship intended to support growth in B2B payments through the integration of Billtrust’s Virtual Card Capture and Visa’s Straight Through Processing solution.

Billtrust’s BPN will further the multipronged strategy Visa and Billtrust are pursuing to reduce friction and streamline payment processes and reconciliation for financial institutions, corporate buyers and B2B suppliers.

Source: Company Press Release