Commercial cards remain only a fraction of the B2B payments space, but FinTech firms, banks and other financial service providers continue to develop new solutions aimed at boosting adoption.
For companies like SmartEquip and Unified Payments Group, that means introducing new ways to lift the burden of suppliers accepting cards. For others, like NatWest and Sabre, that means collaborating on corporate card products that augment the end-user experience.
Below, PYMNTS examines the latest in commercial card innovation, regulation and disruption.
Visa, Sabre Pair For Virtual Travel Cards
Targeting the B2B travel industry, Sabre announced a tie-up last year to pair Visa's virtual commercial cards with Sabre's Virtual Payments gateway. Sabre Vice President of Product Management Becky French discussed this strategy with PYMNTS in a recent Masterclass video, noting that this collaboration has already yielded stronger cash flow and financial management practices for joint clients.
Among the biggest benefits of virtual cards in the B2B travel arena is security, she said, adding that virtual card technology enables managers to define and set controls on spend limits based on price, category and more, while boosting visibility into transactions.
NatWest Bolsters SMB Loans With Cards
U.K. bank NatWest is augmenting its small business (SMB) lending offering through a new partnership with small business prepaid card provider Soldo.
The tie-up will see NatWest extend its small business lending services to existing Soldo cardholders, connecting them with loans and credit lines. The initiative — which can connect small businesses to a streamlined way of diversifying their funding sources — follows NatWest's launch of a pilot to test biometric security measures on its corporate card solutions, enabling businesses to authorize a transaction with a fingerprint instead of a PIN.
SmartEquip Adds Commercial Card Support
Equipment life cycle management and procurement platform SmartEquip recently announced that it will now enable B2B vendors on its portal to accept card payments through a collaboration with Currency. The companies revealed their partnership in a press release, noting that suppliers on the SmartEquip Network will be able to accept debit and credit cards, as well as extend credit to customers or finance transactions made on the SmartEquip platform, both in-store and online.
"By integrating CurrencyPay into the SmartEquip technology suite, processing payment will be easier than ever at all points of sale, including eCommerce, invoices and in-store transactions," said Currency EVP Jered Takeuchi in a statement.
Edenred Grows Payroll Card Presence
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), payments technology company Edenred is strengthening its position in the payroll card market.
The company recently announced the acquisition of the Mint UAE payroll card portfolio for an undisclosed sum. Mint's 600,000 payroll card users in the market will be migrated under Edenred operations, and will gain access to Edenred's existing suite of services — including the C3 payroll and debit card tool, and its connected mobile application.
According to Edenred COO of Europe, Middle East and Africa Arnaud Erulin, the takeover will enable Edenred to broaden its capability of connecting underbanked professionals with digital solutions to access wages and make payments. According to the announcement, nearly 60 percent of the UAE workforce does not participate in the country's traditional financial system.
NY Labor Department Secures Payroll Card Win
The state of New York's Department of Labor (DOL) recently secured a legal victory in its efforts to establish payroll card regulations, designed to protect workers from excessive fees.
A New York appellate court upheld a previous ruling in favor of the DOL after Global Cash Card sued on the grounds that the DOL overstepped its legal authority. It's a big win for proponents of tighter rules around payroll cards, which have faced criticism in recent years, as lawsuits challenge issuers' use of fees for ATM withdrawals, inactive accounts and more.
"We think these rules will go a long way in addressing the issues we've been hearing about from low-wage workers," said Deyanira Del Río, co-director of the New Economy Project, in a 2016 interview after the DOL first announced its proposed payroll card rules.
Unified On Commercial Card Surcharges
While technology solutions like those offered by Plastiq identify one path toward addressing the issue of supplier non-acceptance, Unified Payments Group recently spoke to PYMNTS about another option becoming increasingly available in the U.S. market.
The firm's Co-founder and President Dan Hatcher and CEO John Perez discussed the strategy of compliant surcharges that B2B suppliers can implement to offset the financial burden of corporate card acceptance. The executives highlighted the importance of educating businesses and their executive teams about this option, which can be more effective, they said, than another strategy of capturing Level 2 and Level 3 processing data to lower interchange rates.