“In many ways,” she said, “B2B payments have fallen behind consumer payments … old-school payment forms are not fast, they’re not efficient, and they also are leaky.”
That’s especially true in trucking and logistics, where interactions and financial management are complex undertakings, spread out over distributors, warehouses, carriers and brokers.
The gap is set to narrow when it comes to payments innovation, Gregg said. That’s because business owners, of course, are consumers, too. As they’ve experienced efficient, convenient payments as part of their everyday financial lives, they’ve come to expect the same level of friction-free interactions as part of their professional activities.
Against that backdrop, she said, commercial payments are seeing a shift to digital wallets and a widening consideration, and use of, faster payments. The pivot is evident in RoadSync’s own business as a trucking payments provider, Gregg noted, as 60% of transactions are completed on drivers’ phones.
Most of RoadSync’s customers are small B2B firms, and they operate more like consumers than larger enterprises. The use of electronic means to pay and be paid — with speed in the mix — is being incentivized in part by the fact that, as interest rates are set to stay higher for longer, businesses need to be more efficient with their cash.
About a third of all loads in the United States, said Gregg, are facilitated by freight brokers who do not actually own assets. Those brokers are reliant on other trucking companies to deliver the goods for which the brokers are arranging transportation. All of the parties are dealing with disparate payment solutions to be able to pay the broad carrier base, from paper checks to fleet checks to everything in between. The shift to a platform provider such as RoadSync, she said, can offer up a one-stop shop where those payments (and payments choice) can be more easily facilitated.
“As a broker, you want to be efficient, handling all the payments you need, making sure that they get where they need to go. You need security and reconciliation,” she said.
“Among the ways to manage cash flow,” she said, “is to make sure that you have complete control over payments, and their timing.” No one wants to wait for the proverbial check in the mail to be delivered, to take that check to the bank, and to wait for it to settle. Same-day ACH and real-time payments, Gregg said, are attractive, “because you get to hang onto the cash until the last possible second.”
Gregg noted that within the logistics arena, there’s been significant interest in push-to-debit cards, due to the near-instantaneous nature of those payments. And real time transactions, she said, are growing across the RoadSync platform, though they have yet to become the game-changer that some observers might have expected.
For the carriers and other stakeholders, when it comes to the payments themselves, “they don’t really care what [the payments] are called. They just care that it all works and they have control over the timing.” Push to debit is proving intuitive, she said, as RoadSync customers value being able to input a card number (most everyone has Visa or Mastercard) — and funds are available immediately.
Asked about the roles advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can play in improving logistics and supply chain transactions, Gregg said that AI can help collect, synthesize and analyze the wealth of data that comes across the RoadSync platform, helping client firms target operational efficiencies.
“The ability to manage workflow off of these technologies is exciting,” she told PYMNTS.
Another trend that bears watching, she said, centers on the rise of embedded payments. Several verticals, such as restaurants, have seen providers add payments functionality into software — and logistics is poised for a similar reinvention. Brokers and other stakeholders will want “payments to live within the places that they’re managing businesses on a day-to-day basis.”