B2B Payments

What It Takes For B2B Mobile Finance To Succeed

In B2B, we talk a lot about providing corporations with a B2C-like experience. It’s a concept geared toward usability – the people that are doing online procurement and money management are just that: people. While they may be working on behalf of a corporation, individuals still need the ease-of-use experienced when they access these services as consumers.

PNC Bank has taken this idea, but modified it, to provide mobile banking services to its business customers. When the bank announced last week that its mobile bank app now comes integrated with Apple’s Touch ID feature, it got the conversation started with PYMNTS about where mobile banking for the enterprise is headed.

According to PNC Bank senior vice president of treasury management and product management Howard Forman, there’s a certain demographic of corporate users of mobile banking tools that are likely to benefit most from the solution – and it’s not accounts payable.

Forman told us what that demographic is and how mobile is likely to evolve in how businesses manage funds. Plus, PYMNTS spoke with PNC Bank senior vice president and head of treasury management innovations Tom Lang about how this evolution in corporate mobile solutions will eventually translate into mobile B2B payments capabilities.

How Enterprise Mobile Banking Is B2C-Like – And How It’s Not

According to Forman, there are a few reasons why PNC Bank wanted to integrate Apple’s Touch ID feature into its mobile banking app, PINACLE, for business users. In part, it was due to clients’ needs for faster, more innovative tools.

“I’m hearing from clients that they want their mobile banking experience to be fast, easy and secure, and Touch ID lets us respond to all of those needs with a single feature,” he said.

[bctt tweet=”‘I’m hearing from clients that they want their mobile banking experience to be fast, easy and secure'”]

Further, the solution provides an added layer of security for corporate users. PNC Bank customized the Touch ID feature to specify what type of information and actions users can access when they scan their fingerprint to open the app. And that’s on top of separate security layers the bank added in, Forman added.

But another reason why PNC liked Touch ID for PINACLE is simply because it’s pretty cool.

“There is definitely a cool factor to it,” Forman said. “People just love Touch ID.”

It’s an interesting point: As financial service providers develop new tools for the world of enterprise, many are doing so by looking at the hot trends in consumer usage.

While Touch ID’s popularity among consumers was certainly a factor in PNC’s adoption of the tool for businesses, Forman told PYMNTS that this concept of bringing B2C mobile banking and telling corporations to use the same tools is not a sustainable approach to innovating within corporate finance solutions.

“The way we position mobile, it’s really intended to be for the business executive or manager who is on the go, who have things they need to do that can’t wait until they get to a laptop,” Forman said. “For some individuals, it makes sense to have them on a mobile device. But what we don’t think is realistic is that everything available on a desktop will be available on the mobile device. Not everything will translate very well to a phone.”

He added that accounts receivable professionals, for example, are less likely to benefit from shifting to a mobile banking solution. “Certain executives might say they would like to see all of the functions they perform on the desktop available on the mobile device,” he explained. “For some executives, that certainly can happen. But they’re not necessarily the ones that are in accounts receivable looking at lockboxes and check images and making sure that the receivable was updated properly.”

Instead, the corporate users of a mobile banking tool like PNC’s that will gain the most from the app are those in a financial gatekeeper position. It’s the executives that are “looking at higher value things like cash positions, and real-time balances across all accounts, and banking relationships,” Forman said.

Payments Come Into Play

While mobile banking innovators explore how to create the right kinds of solutions for the business user, while providing the quality of usability already achieved for individuals, the next logical step is for businesses to start paying each other through the mobile device.

That’s what Lang told PYMNTS.

“There is a significant potential for B2B mobile payments to change the way corporates interact and conduct business,” he said. Most immediately, he added, mobile payments will be used in situations like store owners having to pay for an inventory delivery, which will replace the paper check or cash.

[bctt tweet=”‘There is a significant potential for B2B mobile payments to change the way corporates interact and conduct business'”]

Looking ahead, the future of mobile B2B payments is less clear, but is certainly about growth, Lang added. “At the least, treasurers of tomorrow will be initiating large wires on the go and moving an increasing workload to digital interface,” he said.

A Forward View

PNC and other commercial banks and financial service providers have their work cut out for them in deciding how to develop mobile financial solutions for the enterprise. According to Forman, mobile banking adoption among businesses is about providing mobile solutions to the right kinds of workers at enterprises, especially as more millennials enter the stage.

For PNC, Forman said the next step in providing corporate mobile banking tools will be to work off of what each type of smartphone already has to offer. Just as the bank decided to utilize Apple’s Touch ID for iPhones, other unique capabilities of the various smartphone brands will come into play for PNC’s next development – though Forman couldn’t give away those secrets to us just yet.


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