Billtrust, an outsourced billing-services provider that focuses on the supplier side of the B2B supplier/buyer equation, has done a good job handling customers’ multiple needs on the distribution side as a single-vendor solution, and it has processed payments initiated in its platform very effectively.
The company delivers a cloud-based electronic invoice presentment and payment solution to suppliers that they brand as their own. It has over 1,000 clients where it delivers an online presence through its servers. It delivers a payment solution on top of that, processing tens of billions of dollars in payments for those clients.
However, that core service has faced difficulties stemming from growing numbers of electronic payments initiated outside the platform, company founder and CEO Flint Lane noted during a podcast interview this week with Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster.
(Jump to: 2:19) “More and more AP departments are driving higher and higher levels of electronic payments. Each of those electronic payments are exceptions to accounts receivable departments because they don’t come with clean remittance data,” Lane said. “And in B2B, without clean remittance data, electronic payments are useless."
As a result, many of Billtrust’s clients have frowned on accepting payments electronically because they actually cost more to handle than paper-based payments. The company addressed the problem this week through its acquisition of Open Scan Technologies Inc.
The companies formed an alliance in December to help both improve processing speeds for B2B payments and to allow for more efficient transfer of billing and remittance data within the their networks. Open Scan now enable Billtrust to receive electronic-payment information from outside its platform and apply technology to allow accounts receivable departments to automatically apply it to their SAP or their Oracle systems, Lane said.
Lane expects Open Scan’s solution to serve as a vital part of Billtrust’s overall solution, Lane noted. The acquisition, for example, will help grow the company’s Invoice Central, a biller-direct website where buyers can log in and see bills from multiple sellers and pay them online. The Open Scan acquisition will help get more interfaces into the website, enabling Billtrust to become “the ATM network of the B2B space,” Lane said.
(Jump to: 8:33) “We like to call it our own network fantasy, but we believe we control more of the content in the B2B space than anybody else in the world,” he said.
As Lane sees it, there’s no debate that people want less paper and to move to electronic billing and payment. But to do so effectively, two things must happen.
Mainly a company needs to understand that its customers don’t all want the same thing. They all want something to accommodate different forms of electronic payment.
(Jump to: 16:15) “This is not a case of if you build it they will come,” Lane said. “On top of having all the right solutions, you also need an integrated marketing strategy on how you’re going to drive the behavior in your client base."
For more on Lane’s views on Billtrust’s strategy, the Open Scan acquisition and the B2B market in general, click here.
Listen to the full podcast by clicking below.