According to an article on Forbes, the time is now to modernize B2B payments for the next generation of B2B buyers and procurement professionals. Driven by digital payment experiences, Gen Z are expecting their business payments to be parallel with their consumer payments experiences. Yet, many business-to business payment technologies lag behind consumer payments.
The article points to three major categories that will affect the future of B2B payments: reduction of paper checks, digital B2B payments networks, and credit and virtual card acceptance.
Paper Checks Will Continue to Decline
As much as we proclaim the death of checks in the consumer space, paper checks still make up a large share of B2B transactions. Although dropping 9% from 2019, paper checks still comprised 33% of B2B payments in 2022. We agree with the author that checks will continue to decline for consumers, but we will add that checks will likely continue to decline in B2B payments as more finance teams switch to digital payment methods.
The Trend Towards Digital B2B
Digital payments in B2B were exacerbated by the pandemic as employees stayed home, in-person events and meetings were cancelled, and employers began shifting their spending inward towards improving their AP/AR processes and improving payments infrastructure. Suppliers that previously only accepted checks and wire began experimenting with technology such as mobile payments and app-based payments.
It’s likely that Gen Z will drive demand for similar mobile payments capabilities as well as instant payments features from their favorite peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms such as Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal. We agree that these technologies will certainly create expectations for quick settlement transactions, and, to some extent, this technology is already here. Developments in real-time payments and faster payments will enable instant and near-instant payment transfer.
Credit Cards and Virtual Cards
Credit card acceptance is table stakes for a supplier, but virtual cards are still gaining momentum. We agree with the author, who argues for suppliers needing to prepare for card acceptance, passing Level II/Level III payment data, as well as a payment platform that integrates with ERP systems. All these features are becoming important drivers for business payments, especially among corporate finance teams who are going to desire deeper insights into their spending and spend management capabilities.
Overview by Ben Danner, Research Analyst at Mercator Advisory Group.