Cross-border B2B payments is a large and growing market. As of 2017, the space was valued at $18.5 trillion. And that opportunity is only growing, as digital commerce and payments are making the world a smaller place every day, pushing businesses of all shapes and sizes onto the global stage.
The less good news: The mechanisms by which companies are moving funds across borders is best summed up with the phrase “train wreck.”
“Our customers are either doing things that are extremely expensive, like using international wires, or they are doing some kind of crazy process that involved using something like PayPal in conjunction with all kinds of other stuff to jerry-rig a process together,” Lane said.
Those jerry-rigged processes get the job done: $18.5 trillion and growing is managing to move around the world, but as with most improvised systems, it doesn’t get the job done efficiently.
“Everyone can get paid today internationally if they need to; they have figured out a way [to do that]. But it is not timely; it is slow … [and] expensive,” Lane said.
Ultimately, the processes are a drag on the marketplace, he noted. Some businesses have even decided to shelve potential global expansion plans because they couldn’t find an easy way to settle payments and weren’t looking to build a science project to accomplish it.
“It became clear that they want and need us to help figure this stuff out for them,” Lane said, which is why Billtrust today announced a new partnership with Flywire to streamline how businesses receive payments from other businesses across borders.
Solving for Speed, Timing and Price
There are three basic needs that all companies have when it comes to making global B2B payments, Lane said: The funds need to get there fast; the right amount of money needs to be in the right place at exactly the right time and everyone involved in the transaction needs to know when (and exactly how much) will arrive.
It’s simple to explain, but extremely difficult for firms to do — particularly in the case of manufacturing mega-players like Coca-Cola or international veterinary supply firm IDEXX Laboratories, which are looking at funds coming in through dozens of payments methods, in scores of currencies and through a host of different regulatory regimes.
This is where Flywire comes into play, solving for those problems and making sure the right amount of money moves at the right time to the right place, securely and for a predictable cost. It’s what they’ve done before now in international education and healthcare payments (among many other verticals), and – through its partnership with Billtrust – it’s what they hope to bring to the $18.5 trillion world of cross-border B2B payments.
“When we talk about pain points,” Massaro told Webster and Lane, “we have actually seen these same three things pop up over and over again. We keep seeing firms wanting to go faster and move to scale and really needing to be able to collect and process payments in new regions.”
Needing to be able to — but often not being able to. Unfortunately, “regulation and compliance issues alone could stymie businesses out of cross-border expansion,” Massaro said.
Following the integration, Billtrust business clients can now gain access to Flywire’s receivables network and processing platform, which will extend Billtrust customers’ access to a “user-friendly” dashboard that can act as a single point of contact for tracking those B2B payments throughout their lifecycle — from billing to reconciliation, the CEOs explained.
On the backend, the integrated solution will enable Flywire and Billtrust to securely share account and invoice details while matching reconciliation data.
Lane noted the integration will also enable clients to view and settle payments with their preferred payment or currency type.
“Given the ways the industry is changing technologically and from a regulatory perspective,” Lane said, “it is not really reasonable to expect that AR teams in the future are going to be able to keep eyes on all of it.”
The Value Added
The Flywire/Billtrust pairing has been in the works for a while. Massaro noted that he and Lane have known each other professionally for the last two years or so, and have been looking for the right way to work with each other for some time.
As more businesses go global — or at least consider it — the executives agreed the time is ripe to build this solution to support firms in their invoicing and settlement needs on a global scale.
According to Massaro, “Billtrust is a natural fit here because of their focus on delivery and execution.”
The proof will be in the pudding: The Billtrust/Flywire pairing isn’t just announcing today; the CEOs said the companies are also rolling out their new service, for which they have high hopes.
“I think this is really going to change the way B2B international payments are done in the immediate future,” Lane said.