Consumer-payments services are starting to garner attention among businesses, with 76% of banks having corporate customers asking for automated business-to-consumer payment services. That’s the word from Bottomline Technologies Inc. in its 2019 B2B Payments and Working Capital Management Strategies Survey, released this week.
The survey of more than 300 financial professionals across North America and Europe also found that while interest from corporations is growing in B2C payments, many are not using them. Only 18% said they were using or interested in using PayPal Holdings Inc. products. That was followed by Zelle, the person-to-person payment service, 16%; Visa Direct, 15%; and Mastercard Send, 13%. The latter two are the respective card brands’ immediate push-payment services.
“Progress has been made toward automating B2C payments, but most of the focus has been on payments corporates make to their consumer employees, for example payroll and T&E reimbursements,” Bill Wardwell, Bottomline vice president of strategy and business development, says in an email to Digital Transactions News.
“Bottomline, for example, has been providing a solution to automate employees’ out-of-pocket expense reimbursements via our Paymode-X Integrated Payables solution for several years,” Wardwell says. “What we are seeing now is more of a focus on other types of payments including refunds, insurance claims, or other payouts. It is fair to say that most corporates are still trying to learn about how these new B2C payment models work and where they can apply and benefit their business. As data from the survey suggests, this trend is on the rise.”
B2C payments are attractive to corporations for many reasons. “Not only do these payment types come with the inherent benefits of electronic transactions, such as lower costs and more efficient workflows, they are also attractive options for corporates because they allow them to tap into a captive group of consumers that are already using these B2C platforms to send and receive money,” he says.
“Banks and fintechs have driven consumer adoption of these payment models (Zelle, PayPal, etc.), and the captive network of users benefits corporates because it means that the consumers they are trying to pay are already familiar with these payment models.”
Wardwell stresses the ease of use B2C technology has achieved: “For those consumers that are not active users of these B2C technologies, the signup process is typically simple, making it easy for the consumer to choose one of these methods over a paper check,” he says. “This is very similar to what we see with our business-payment network, Paymode-X [which] has captive trading partners a corporate can tap into quickly for automation of their B2B payments.”