January 21, 2014, 1:42 PM

Prodding the switch to e-payments in B2B e-commerce

As B2B e-commerce grows, new services are letting buyers and sellers complete payment transactions online instead through paper checks or other offline means. “There are quite a few players in this business; this is good for buyers and sellers,” says Nancy Atkinson, a senior analyst at research and consulting firm Aite Group.

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Nancy Atkinson

Business-to-business e-commerce transacted directly between buyer and seller or through third-party web portals, though conducted by some companies for years, has relied mostly on paper checks or other forms of offline payment transactions to complete purchases. Now, along with the rise in B2B e-commerce, new services are emerging that are designed to make online B2B e-payments more routine.

Traxpay, for example, is offering an escrow payment service launched last year, Traxpay Conditional Payments, for online buyers and sellers in e-commerce trade conducted bilaterally or through third-party trading portals. Other major providers of portals and payments include Basware, Ariba, TradeBeam, MasterCard, Visa and Discover Financial Services. “There are quite a few players in this business; this is good for buyers and sellers,” says Nancy Atkinson, a senior analyst at research and consulting firm Aite Group.

Sign Up for B@Becnews for FREETheir targeted market, she adds, is the predominance of B2B e-commerce payments still handled with paper checks, which have survived as the payment method of choice among companies conducting other parts of their product sourcing and purchasing online. Among the reasons many companies have stuck with offline payment methods was the lack of reliable electronic systems that provided enough information to help them expedite payment data, even though cutting and mailing checks has been known to lead to errors and late payments, making it harder for sellers to offer discounts based on early payments, Atkinson says. With companies like Traxpay providing services that guarantee payment transactions and provide purchasing details, however, buyers and sellers can benefit from payment processing systems that support and instantly verify the availability of a buyer's "good funds only" and payment times, making it easier for sellers to grant discounts for early payment. "Good funds only" is a payment industry term meaning that a buyer's funds are available at the time of the purchase transaction.

Traxpay is certified by SAP AG as a provider of payment technology that integrates with SAP’s business operations software, including accounting and inventory management. With such integration, a seller responding to a customer’s purchase order and using Traxpay and SAP can send a confirmed purchase order and invoice in a single transaction to a buyer, who, in addition to completing payments, can use the same system to transfer product images or other data to the seller if necessary to confirm details of an order, Traxpay says.

Following is a list of other B2B online payment services:

  • AribaPay, provided by a joint venture of Discover Financial Services and Ariba, a unit of SAP that provides services on an online B2B network where companies can find buyers and sellers and process orders. Through AribaPay, companies on the Ariba Network can send and receive payments between their respective bank accounts over the Discover network, without using a Discover payment card.
  • Basware, a provider of Internet or cloud-based electronic invoicing services, is working with MasterCard Worldwide is an electronic invoicing system that uses both the Basware Commerce Network and MasterCard’s international  payments network to route invoices and payments electronically for client companies.
  • Syncada uses Internet-based software initially developed by U.S. Bank to processes invoices and payments electronically. It works with Citibank, Commerce Bank, U.S.Bank, and U.S. Bank payment processing unit Elavon to handle electronic payments.

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