There is an old adage in the construction industry – “fast, good or cheap: pick two,” that could easily be adopted to the B2B payments industry – “secure, frictionless, or cost effective- pick two.” In the B2B space, where buyers and suppliers need each other but often don’t know each other, the lack of options for making payments that are at once secure, easy to use and cost-effective can slow innovation in the market. While the consumer market has been abandoning paper payment methods in droves, paper checks retains its kingship in the B2B space despite its flaws because it is the best compromise on those values.
That status quo may finally be ready to change though, especially if Armor Payments has anything to say about it. Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster caught up with the founder of the year-and-a-half-old B2B payments start-up, Scott Reynolds, for a quick chat about the problems in the B2B payments marketplace that exist today and how his company hopes to innovate around them.
According to Reynolds, when thinking about B2B payments, it is important to note that the problem his company is trying to solve actually spring from good news- B2B buyers and suppliers are finally ready to make the online jump for their interaction. Unfortunately, while they are finding online marketplaces to buy and sell goods in, they aren’t finding great options when it comes to exchanging money.
There are options, but those options can be expensive – and are built for the consumer – not the small business – in mind.
(Jump to 1.50) “PayPal and credit cards for that matter, are expensive, particularly for the larger transactions that are part of b2b commerce. In addition the chargeback structure tends to be optimized really for the consumer market. So with Armor Payments we can provide a similar level of protection to buyers with an escrow process and our integrated dispute platform and we can provide guaranteed funds to the supplier. All at a significantly lower cost.”
Armor charges a fee for their services as well, but it is much lower than what companies would be facing with other alternatives.
Armor is not pursuing end buyers and sellers directly, instead it is looking to collaborate with B2B commerce enablers– such as marketplaces, online directories or B2B e-invoice providers.
(Jump to 3.34)“So we’ve seen interest really from a wide variety of potential partners, ranging from wholesale fashion to refurbished electronics. Quite a wide range of channels where these marketplaces are bringing together buyers and suppliers but they still don’t have a viable secure method of payment that they can build into their marketplaces.”
They’ve also seen interest from a wide-variety of small enterprises looking to work globally. Giants, such as China’s Alibaba, can take care of escrow services in-house, but smaller companies don’t have those kinds of resources. While working in international markets ahs a lot of potential, it also comes with a lot of risk in working with business partners that one does not necessarily know. Reynolds says Armor can help make those transactions possible and profitable by offering large-business escrow capability to small providers.
(Jump to 7:30) “We’re finding and talking to many marketplaces that facilitate international transactions and they don’t’ have the resources that Alibaba does so they are excited to see our service and be able to integrate our service to provide that value to their community of buyers and sellers.
Armor Payments is currently partnered with a handful marketplaces as it is coming out of beta. They are currently pursuing an online escrow license in the state of California where they are based, which they hope to have in six to eight weeks.
To hear Karen Webster’s full conversation with Scott Reynolds click here.