The B2B space continues to buzz with activity, including various initiatives on the part of the branded card networks during the past couple of years. The push into a more central role in the global B2B payments space is one of the key goals of course. One of the more busy organizations has been Mastercard, who have in the past two years expanded their reach into B2B beyond the traditional cards-based schemes. The acquisition of Vocalink and strategic partnership with AvidXchange (Mastercard B2B Hub) are two examples of strategy execution to both extend products and services into the growing real-time payments rails around the globe while also drilling into the broader accounts payable digitization expansion, where cards-based products have historically been underutilized. This referenced posting from Zacks is essentially a summary of the press release for the announced collaboration between Mastercard and Microsoft for a new B2B business enabling system called Mastercard Track. It is being marketed as a global trade platform.
“…has introduced Mastercard Track in collaboration with Microsoft (MSFT) to expand in the lucrative Business to Business (B2B) payment market. It is a unique B2B platform powered by Microsoft Azure, which would make it easy for businesses to carry on their work.”… ”Beginning in early 2019, customers of these organizations will be able to maintain, retrieve and exchange key information relating to themselves and their trading partners through the Track Trade Directory. It is a secure, permissioned repository of more than 150 million company registrations worldwide.”
The Track platform will be offered through Microsoft Azure, and will be accessed by users more broadly through participating B2B networks as of January 2019. The system has been integrated with Singapore’s National Trade Platform (NTP), which was initially released in Q4 2017 and is a trade facilitation ecosystem. Track has several initial channel services, for which the main appeal is access to details on 150 million+ global suppliers. This helps to bring much greater participation in global trade capabilities that are offered through the growing digital services, including payments and supplier financing. The B2B networks currently have several millions of suppliers, some of course overlapping. The other major initial offering is data around sanctions screening, AML and KYC, typically a barrier to onboarding of suppliers for trade relationship services.
“Beginning in early 2019, customers of these organizations will be able to maintain, retrieve and exchange key information relating to themselves and their trading partners through the Track Trade Directory, a secure, permissioned repository of over 150 million company registrations worldwide. This central directory will integrate feeds from more than 4,500 compliance lists into one place, making the screening and onboarding of suppliers more efficient.”
Mercator was in attendance at the live event announcing the launch of Mastercard Track and we gained some insight as to distribution and business models. The initial distribution will be through participating B2B networks that have solutions in the procure-to-pay space. The article provides a list of these networks. While commercial details are not available vis-à-vis pricing, the expectation is that a transaction based model will be in play, with charges that depend on the level of data utilized. While the live demonstration indicated access to an easily navigable user interface based on incremental use of data through channels, the B2B networks’ integration of data and services available through Track will likely be quite varied. End user buyers and suppliers will expect an easy experience, so this is where work between now and full commercial launch date will be occurring.
The world of B2B payments and services capabilities continues to quickly evolve, and one of the real questions is how quickly do corporates across all segment sizes adapt to what can be accomplished.
Overview by Steve Murphy, Director, Commerical and Enterprise Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group