Considering the mind-bending level of competition in the FinTech space today, the rise of the API may raise some eyebrows. After all, if a company has worked so hard to develop some type of financial technology, why would they want to lend that technology out to just about anyone?
But the rollout of APIs from financial services and technology giants like Standard Chartered and Citigroup is a chance for the FinTech space to achieve greater levels of collaboration and innovation. Plus, there is a competitive edge to the tactic, enabling the owners of these technologies to see their solutions integrated into more services, reaching more end users.
B2B payments company Payoneer is one of the latest firms to use this strategy. Earlier this month, the firm announced the rollout of its own API that allows software companies that target the SME space to integrate Payoneer’s cross-border payments capabilities. Offering an API means Payoneer’s global corporate payments tools can be accessed by more SMEs across the world, and according to the firm’s CEO, Scott Galit, that international vision is a critical component to this service.
Typically, Galit explained in a recent interview with PYMNTS, SMEs using software solutions without an integrated global payments technology have to exit that software platform and work with banks to somehow ensure payments are sent and received, creating headaches for accounting, reporting and reconciliation.
“In order to send or receive cross-border payments with a bank, [SMEs] have to leave the systems that they use to run their business and figure out how to interact separately with the bank,” he explained. “If you’re a small business figuring out how to bill your customer internationally and get paid, it’s not trivial. If you’re a small business, you have to think about how to get a bank account in different markets account the world, so customers in those markets can pay.”
He added that Payoneer supports a variety of payment methods across dozens of markets and currencies. “I can’t think of any bank that a small business can go to to get anything close to that range of basic payment and currency capabilities,” he said.
That process isn’t only a challenge, but it’s becoming unacceptable for SMEs that are looking to operate and transact as easily as consumers do, Galit added.
“Businesses are increasingly expecting digital integration and interactions that are as easy as consumers have,” he stated, adding that, in the B2B world, especially, business transactions exist well before, and well after, an actual payment, whether it be via the procurement process or through the reconciliation process.
“What we see with businesses is the need for there to be integration across more of the systems and platforms they use,” Galit explained. “For those systems to talk to each other, and work together, and essentially be able to automate a lot of that workflow.”
The CEO pointed to the expanding adoption of cloud technology as a key driver of this trend. The technology means small businesses have expanded access to sophisticated solutions, once only available to larger enterprises. But with more software platforms integrated in the small business, the more difficult it becomes to transact and ensure that all of those platforms are communicating with each other and are all on the same page about a small business’ finances.
Payoneer’s API enables the providers of these various SME services to integrate Payoneer international B2B payment tools straight into their services. That includes providers of solutions like eInvoicing, accounting and other financial management offerings.
The tool is also a way to promote collaboration in the SME services space, Galit noted. Today, technology firms can’t afford to hoard their solutions to themselves. Small businesses, the CEO said, are expanding internationally, migrating to the cloud and using so many digital services that are struggling to connect with each other that B2B payments have been challenged to keep up. Integrating a cross-border payments solution across those various software platforms can enable a small business “to do business globally as easily as what you or I could do locally, here in the U.S.,” Galit stated.
“It’s a big world out there,” he continued. “There is a diversity of businesses using a diversity of software, and if we can work in those ecosystems to help make that simple and integrated and automated, it all works for the benefit of the small business owner.”