There is a disconnect between the payment options businesses offer their customers and the options businesses use to pay each other. Between real-time payment options, one-click buy buttons and instant credit transfer schemes, consumers get the gold standard when it comes to payments solutions.
Meanwhile, paper checks are still heavily used by businesses, with 34 percent of companies using them to make payments, and 32 percent using them to receive. Though they are the most commonly used payment method, they rank fourth when it comes to satisfaction. Checks are slow to process and deposit, and filling them out and sending takes manual work. However, if given the choice, most businesses would rather pay another way.
Businesses are more satisfied with ACH payments, electronic bank transfers and even credit cards than they are with checks for sending and receiving B2B payments. So, what is stopping them from using these other methods?
In a word: ubiquity, or lack thereof. Along with the proliferation of faster, easier payment technologies, there are countless ways that vendors and suppliers can send and receive B2B payments. About 81 percent use credit cards, for instance, while 41 percent prefer settling accounts with ePayables technology, just to name a couple. As a result, there is no industry standard for how to manage inter-business payment flows, and companies are usually forced to expend precious time collectively negotiating just to settle their bills.
All that may be changing, though.
With spiking investments in digital payment solutions, the B2B sphere appears to finally embrace innovation. In today’s highly competitive market, the pressure is on to maximize profits and streamline B2B payment structures by reducing their operating costs, time consumption and potential for errors and fraud. It’s no wonder that, in the next three years, investments in digital payment solutions are expected to surge.
As much as 33 percent of businesses said they plan to invest in account-to-account (A2A) real-time payments (RTP) technology, while 32 percent said they plan to invest in automated payables solutions. Even blockchain is gaining traction, with 10 percent of companies planning to invest in them over the next three years. This multitude of B2B payment investments has opened a whole new world of opportunities, with all-new players, including tech giants and FinTech startups, taking initiative to find the “next big thing” in B2B payments.
What will replace the paper check as the top B2B payment method? We may soon have an answer.
Download the B2B Payments Tipping Point Report to learn more about how small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are reclaiming control of their finances by investing in B2B payments optimization and technological innovation.