As the digital revolution continues to gather pace, the payments market has firmly embraced the changes it brings. From chip and pin to contactless and Apple Pay, a stream of new technologies has transformed the way in which money is moved.
The same cannot be said for businesses. Despite a boom in B2B cross-border payments, with the US market estimated to be worth $4.26 trillion alone, it remains a complex and cumbersome undertaking.
Compared with the consumer market, where customers have come to expect a virtually seamless payment experience, the process of transferring business payments across different countries and currencies is plagued by high costs, lengthy timelines and antiquated systems.
On average, companies write off 1.5 per cent of their receivables as bad debt. For a company worth $50 million, this equates to a staggering $750,000 expense every year. While large corporates possess the sophisticated tools and resources to manage their international business at competitive prices, small and mid-sized businesses are left at the mercy of the rates imposed by their banks, placing increasing pressure on margins.
However, the tide is turning. Recognising the need to help the B2B market keep pace with consumer developments, a new wave of innovation among payment providers is seeking to reinvigorate the way businesses handle their cross-border payments.
In less than 10 years, B2B customers won’t settle their invoices in a different currency
Todd Latham, chief marketing officer and head of product at Currencycloud, explains: “Traditionally, innovation has focused upon meeting the growing demands of consumers and ignored the more complex B2B market. However, with almost half of all UK businesses receiving late payments from overseas customers, there is a huge need to overhaul the outdated system currently in place.
“Advances in technology will allow businesses to expand and interact with overseas customers and suppliers, without the huge infrastructure, time-lag and headache involved in dealing with banks. Maintaining cash-flow levels is critical to business profitability, so in providing a frictionless process, the payments market can remove hurdles to growth for small and medium-sized businesses.”
Currencycloud has launched its own Global Collections functionality, which enables businesses to set up local, virtual bank accounts for customers, so their suppliers can pay them directly in their home currency. In doing so, businesses will be able significantly to reduce the time and expense traditionally associated with global accounts receivables, making it easier for companies to collect payments where their customers are.
Mr Latham says: “We’ve sought to provide our clients with flexible solutions that allow them to make international payments without any of the burdensome issues they currently encounter. Increasingly, we will see this become the norm rather than the exception, as global trade grows and payment providers recognise the need to make this space more accessible and appealing.”
We are only at the beginning of what will be an interesting and revolutionary next decade for the B2B cross-border payments market. Mr Latham expects greater collaboration between the banking and fintech sectors, as the former harness the benefits of new digital solutions without having to invest time and resources to build them internally.
“In less than ten years, B2B customers won’t settle their invoices in a different currency. Many companies are jumping on the blockchain bandwagon, but it won’t improve the way money crosses the world. What will ultimately revolutionise the payments landscape is providing businesses with the same level of innovation and experience the consumer space has now come to expect as standard,” Mr Latham concludes.
For more information please visit currencycloud.com