B2B Payments

End-Of-Summer B2B Special

It’s time to pack up those beach chairs and pull out the jackets from storage, because Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer (for the U.S., at least). PYMNTS compiled a look back at the summer’s top stories, giving you one last bit of summer reading for the beach.

Payments Players Went B2B

Two of the market’s most prominent payments players – Apple Pay and PayPal – are turning their attention to the corporate world.

Last month, American Express said it would now support Apple Pay for its commercial cards in the U.S., making Amex the first major credit card issuer to do so.

“Businesses today are going global,” said American Express Executive Vice President of Global Corporate Payments Greg Keeley, “and American Express is at the forefront of digital innovation, helping companies to streamline their payments systems and simplify their processes.”

PayPal is taking another path in its B2B approach, instead opting to focus on its commercial lending operations. Early this month PayPal VP and General Manager of Small Business Lending Darrell Esch told reporters that PayPal Working Capital is headed towards the $1 billion mark in small business loans; already, the unit lends $2 million a day.

eCommerce Giants Did, Too

PayPal’s progress in SME finance follows its split from eBay, which itself went through a B2B shift this summer. The eCommerce player raised eyebrows in July when, just hours ahead of its official split from PayPal, eBay said it would be spinning off its enterprise operations into a separate unit, eBay Enterprise.

eBay rival Amazon got its B2B marketplace underway this season, too, with the launch (or re-launch, rather) of Amazon Business. But analysts aren’t completely convinced that Amazon’s latest enterprise efforts will succeed – largely because Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has stayed quite mum on the venture.

On the other side of the globe, Chinese eCommerce behemoth Alibaba turned up the volume on its B2B ventures, opening several new B2B eCommerce platforms in new jurisdictions, launching a venture to increase the volume of more affordable imports to Chinese corporate buyers, continuing its supplier financing programs, and introducing a buyer assurance initiative to raise the confidence of corporate buyers doing business with Chinese suppliers.

Spin-Offs

eBay wasn’t the only corporation to pursue a spin-off of its corporate services operations this summer. Hewlett-Packard revealed in June that it would split itself in half, resulting in HP Enterprise to focus on IT and software needs of corporate clients. The separation won’t be official until Nov. 1, but already analysts are closely watching the performance of the company’s enterprise solutions activity.

Meanwhile, the season was riddled with new chatter about who would be acquiring General Electric’s corporate lending operations, GE Capital. Plans for the sale were revealed way back in April, but all summer reports have emerged about who is the next contender to acquire some of the GE Capital pie, with interested parties said to include Wells Fargo, Capital One and others.

Corporate Banking Gets The Spotlight

Speaking of Wells Fargo, the bank made headlines in the last few weeks for its executive shuffle among corporate finance units. Most recently the institution announced a new president for its Commercial Banking division following the promotion of one of its executives to lead its Treasury Management and Corporate Banking services.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch got some attention this summer, too, when Nilson ranked the institution as the market’s top commercial card company in June. According to analysis, BoA Merrill Lynch experienced a 13 percent increase in its purchasing card volume year-over-year, with an even larger increase in corporate card volume.

Enterprise Mobility Wars

Throughout the summer, mobile technology firms Apple, Google, Samsung, Blackberry and Microsoft all engaged in a heated battle to secure their devices in the hands of more of the workforce. Google revealed plans to release the next version of its flopped Google Glass, this time for enterprise, while Apple struck new partnerships with IBM and Cisco to develop enterprise apps and other technologies. Microsoft unleashed Windows 10 Pro for workplace users and touted the potential for the SaaS market, Samsung targeted enterprise security, and BlackBerry teamed up with a few of the giants listed above for its own corporate mobility push. All in all, the top players in consumer mobility are now in a tight race for B2B market gains.

Accounting Scandals

Research published last month made a troubling conclusion: larger corporations appear poised to hire employees that show a willingness to manipulate earnings data for the benefit of the corporation. The findings were unleashed just as the B2B world began to zero in on Japan-based Toshiba and the fallout from its ongoing accounting scandal, a yearslong saga that has resulted in high-profile resignations and called into question the nation’s corporate culture that critics say encourages such dodgy bookkeeping practices.

Invoice Scams

A flurry of research published this season touted the importance of adequate treasury management for large and small corporations alike. Not only does a proper treasury system help avoid a scandal like Toshiba’s, but a robust accounting team and technology might help to avoid a cyber scam that has risen to the forefront of business owners’ minds this summer.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in fact, released a new warning only days ago about the so-called invoice scam, a crime targeting B2B firms by posing as an international supplier and demanding payment into a foreign bank account.

Government Regulation

But the FBI wasn’t the only federal authority to step into the B2B payments sector. This summer, U.S. legislation dubbed Regulation A+ came into effect, upping the cap that small businesses can raise through a mini IPO of sorts. Other notable developments in the world of government include the Treasury’s launch of a digital SME lending marketplace probe in July, as well as the emergence of the debate over how banks can be protected under federal law if they provide financial services to legal marijuana businesses in states allowing such companies.

The U.K. saw its fair share of regulatory developments in B2B, too, especially in the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s win at the general election polls in May. Since then, the nation has seen renewed focus on facilitating alternative SME lending players and challenger banks to improve small businesses’ access to finance, plus a reinvigorated effort to combat the country’s ongoing late payments problem.

A Look Into Autumn

As is the way when seasons change, for many of these events in B2B, there is no clear beginning – or end. The summer was ripe with advances in B2B payments technology, but held its fair share of scandals, too. Looking ahead, market players and analysts will be watching how autumn plays out across these sectors – who will pull ahead in the enterprise mobility battle? What will the Treasury conclude in its alternative lending inquiry? What’s the next cybercrime to hit B2B players? Summer may be over, but many of these stories have only just begun.

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PYMNTS STUDY: THE CROSS-BORDER MERCHANT FRICTION INDEX – JUNE 2020

The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

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