AP Automation and Virtual Cards Shine This Week in B2B

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The B2B landscape is responsible for around $125 trillion of annual money movement.

And those B2B payments are working overtime in the background to power much of the world’s economy. But even two decades and a handful of years into the 21st century, much of that transaction volume results in headaches for both buyers and suppliers that stem from legacy bottlenecks and frictions slowing down payments and keeping firms in the dark about their day-to-day working capital.

Across today’s B2B landscape, whenever a B2B payment gets sent, there is often a more streamlined, digital and automated way to do it. But the marketplace is starting to catch up with the needs and expectations of B2B businesses in terms of better payments.

That’s why PYMNTS tracks all the latest B2B news that’s fit to print, and from the transformative impact of B2B virtual cards to a surge in accounts payable (AP) automation and single source of truth digital transformations, here is the latest.

Automated Solutions Give AP a Shot in the Arm

Accounts payable (AP) is a critical aspect of financial management for businesses and refers to the money a company owes to its suppliers and vendors. But many AP programs today are in need of an update — which is why a host of innovative new solutions designed to streamline the AP function are entering the marketplace.

On Tuesday (May 7), Paymerang and Harris ERP announced they have partnered to provide advanced invoice and payment automation solutions to local governments.

Following that, Corpay on Wednesday (May 8) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Paymerang, the accounts payable automation company mentioned above. Integrating Paymerang will add over 250,000 merchants and 1,300 customers to Corpay’s existing merchant network of over 1 million vendors.

And that wasn’t the only accounts payable news on Wednesday, as TranscendAP, which has been a business unit of Optima Global Solutions since 2018, announced it is now operating as a newly formed company.

There must have been something in the air Wednesday, because that same day Basware expanded its market offering by acquiring AP Matching. The acquisition will add AP Matching’s cloud-based solutions for managing invoices and reconciling statements to Basware’s accounts payable (AP) automation and invoice processing capabilities.

Virtual Cards Provide Tangible Working Capital Benefits

More companies in Africa — as well as in Central Europe and the Middle East — are seeking working capital solutions, according to PYMNTS Intelligence.

Capitalizing on that trend, American Express is rolling out a business credit card in Nigeria, its first such product in the country. The card, announced Thursday (May 9), offers business owners a spending limit of $10,000 and a repayment period of up to 45 days for international transactions, and comes as a result of a partnership with local neobank O3 Capital.

B2B virtual cards themselves are at a tipping point, as PYMNTS heard on Tuesday during a conversation with two payments executives.

“Too many middle-market companies are waiting for payments and then having to chase them,” Paul Christensen, CEO of B2B payment solution provider Previse, told PYMNTS. “I think if you can remove the waiting and chasing for suppliers, you will unlock the usage of virtual cards. I believe we’re at a tipping point where virtual cards can go from its current estimate of 2% of [accounts payable (AP)] spend to 5% to 10% of total spend and beyond. We’re talking about trillions of dollars of spend that the networks and the issuers can unlock and make the whole ecosystem much more efficient.”

“For those of us who provide payment solutions to companies, we need to make it easy for middle market companies to use a fit-for-purpose solution,” American Express President of Merchant Services Colleen Taylor told PYMNTS as part of the conversation with Christensen.

Emphasizing the growing focus on the middle market, PNC Financial Services Group and TCW Group on Monday (May 6) formalized and expanded their partnership to develop a private credit platform focused on middle market lending.

Embracing Consolidated Digital Platforms

As B2B firms look to establish a single source of truth for their operations, they are increasingly turning to holistic digital platforms.

FIS on Tuesday launched an embedded finance platform designed for use by financial institutions, businesses and software developers. The new “Atelio by FIS” platform can help firms collect deposits, move money, issue cards, send invoices, fight fraud, forecast cash flows and better understand customer behavior, the company said.

Elsewhere, CTS Systems has integrated Corcentric’s Managed Accounts Receivable (AR) services into its travel booking platform. With this integration, the CTS Systems platform will offer corporate travel agents and hotels a single-source solution providing consolidated, digitized and secure invoice processing, the companies said.

Expensify is adding travel booking and management capabilities to its financial management platform for expenses and corporate cards. The new Expensify Travel will begin rolling out next week in the Expensify web and mobile apps and will later be integrated into the new chat-based super app, New Expensify, the company said on Wednesday.

The focus on travel comes as American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) saw global multinational customers increase their business travel during the first quarter.

BigCommerce on Tuesday debuted an open-source version of its business-to-business (B2B) Buyer Portal platform. The new offering gives enterprise manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, developers and agency partners creative control to build and customize the optimal B2B buyer experience with speed, at scale and at a lower total cost.

Also on Tuesday, Cleveland-based financial institution KeyBank launched a virtual account management solution for treasury management clients.

Digital Transformation Comes for More Traditional Sectors

Nearly every sector is interested in capturing digitally driven efficiencies. PYMNTS Intelligence has found that construction contractors are investing in digital tools to enable faster payments and easier cash flow management.

Underscoring this, Trimble on Wednesday acquired Flashtract to add construction payment, compliance and lien waiver capabilities to its connected construction technology ecosystem.

And with the news last Thursday (May 2) that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is seeking more funding to continue scaling its digital transformation efforts as part of its Strategic Operating Plan, PYMNTS unpacked how process modernizations designed to leapfrog technical debt are top of mind for firms looking toward sustainable growth.

The consequences of failing to adequately address technical debt — meaning legacy systems and architecture, hardware and software — include low levels of service and technology that does not fully reflect the digital world we live in.