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Big Innovations Powering Small Business Growth Dominate This Week in B2B

It is National Small Business Week in the U.S., and the spotlight is on business-to-business (B2B) innovation. 

That’s why PYMNTS spent Monday (April 29) unpacking how small businesses with big ambitions are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to drive growth; Tuesday (April 30) discussing the need for Main Street businesses to secure payments without creating checkout frictions that end up turning away good customers; Wednesday (May 1) digging into the many ways that payments innovations are helping small businesses navigate the Main Street maze; and on Thursday (May 2) took aim at how small businesses can use eCommerce to drive outsize online results. 

But the marketplace was making its own moves — and that’s why this week, PYMNTS had our ears to the ground for all the latest B2B news that’s fit to print. From embracing AI, to the transformative impact of B2B virtual cards and beyond, this is what we heard.

Innovations Make Inroads Into Main St.

MongoDB on Wednesday launched a program designed to help enterprises embed generative AI (GenAI) into their applications; while on Tuesday, accounting software firm Digits launched AI Bill Pay, an AI accounting platform for small businesses. 

Amazon’s B2B procurement store also rolled out new resources designed to help smaller entrepreneurs on Wednesday, as it introduced an online resource center dubbed the “Small Business Success Studio.”

And in other technology news, with Visa having launched on April 25 the Visa Onchain Analytics Dashboard to showcase how fiat-backed stablecoins move via public blockchains globally, PYMNTS dug into how the stablecoin category of crypto assets is increasingly top of mind for CFOs and treasurers. 

Virtual Cards Reshape Buyer-Supplier Dynamics

On Thursday, Checkout.com teamed with Mastercard to offer virtual cards to online travel agents. 

And PYMNTS covered Wednesday how the digital shift across B2B payments is not just about adopting new technology and embracing innovation to optimize accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) workflows, but also about redefining the dynamics between buyers and suppliers — with B2B virtual cards playing a starring role. 

And against today’s macro backdrop of rising interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty, a growing appetite for working capital certainty and management is pervading the marketplace. It’s leading buyers and suppliers to find that the value proposition — and the cost basis — of using virtual cards for B2B payments offers them a blend of efficiency, security and flexibility that traditional payment methods struggle to match.

As covered here, while traditionally the balance of power when using a corporate virtual card to pay suppliers may have tipped toward the B2B buyer who was, at least historically, able to dictate the payment terms and methodologies, suppliers are now starting to use virtual cards themselves to negotiate better terms with buyers.

Digital Payments as Growth Engine

Unimarket on Monday introduced its fully managed AP payments service, Unimarket Payments, to the United States. The solution digitizes supplier invoices of all formats and enables customers to process them at a low fixed cost within 48 hours. It also offers supplier enablement, fraud and risk detection, strategic account relationship management, payment operations and settlement support, and payments and banking data security capabilities,

Late payments can trip up businesses of all sizes — and segments — and as PYMNTS Intelligence found in creating its Working Capital Tracker®, “Late Payments Across Verticals: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” for those organizations operating in the healthcare sector, the average wait has ballooned to 47 days. 

In the retail sector, for example, the average days sales outstanding (DSO) is three to seven days; while the construction sector’s DSO comes to a whopping 94 days, according to “Under Construction: Improving Payments in the Construction Industry,” a PYMNTS collaboration with Ingo Payments.

But innovations are stepping in to tighten these windows. For example, on Tuesday supply chain collaboration platform SourceDay and AP platform Medius announced a collaboration to enhance procure-to-pay operations for businesses; while that same day payments technology firm Fiserv announced it was offering billers new communications tools to get paid faster and encourage on-time payments. 

Elsewhere, Cleo on Tuesday introduced an order automation solution designed to help suppliers offer an enhanced B2B buying experience to their customers; while on Tuesday, too, Airwallex and BILL partnered to help BILL customers make faster international payments.

On Thursday, Banyan announced a new partnership with WEX. “Merchant partners of WEX will benefit from the addition of Banyan item-level data capabilities in WEX’s virtual payments solutions,” Banyan said. 

Chase on Thursday also introduced a series of payments-oriented tools aimed at small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that include offerings to help SMB owners electronically create and send invoices and gain better insight into customers. 

Secure Payments Strengthens Businesses

On the fraud front, it’s never been more important for small businesses and entrepreneurs to protect both themselves and their customers.

“Larger businesses, they may have some tools inside to prevent fraud and scams … but smaller businesses typically have a little less sophistication,” Mike Lemberger, senior vice president, chief risk officer, North American Region at Visa, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster in a Thursday post. 

With the use of GenAI and other emerging technologies, scams are more convincing than ever, leading to unprecedented losses for consumers, and Lemberger highlighted the emergence of “triangulation fraud” schemes — a complex process where scammers set up fake websites offering high-demand goods at significantly reduced prices.

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