The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 10, 2017 • Issue 17:04:01
Visa, Viewpost target SMB payments
Viewpost IP Holdings LLC disclosed in March 2017 that it partnered with Visa to provide Visa virtual commercial card products to its small and midsize business (SMB) clients. The electronic payment products use a one-time Visa virtual account number to enhance security and provide additional remittance detail for accounting and compliance purposes, the companies stated.
Vicky Bindra, Global Head of Products & Solutions at Visa, said the collaboration will enable small business owners to access a comprehensive set of financial management tools where they bank, in a single portal. "We are thrilled to partner with Viewpost and make our customers' lives easier by significantly reducing time, cost and friction around payment, so they can focus on what is most important – managing and growing their businesses," he stated.
Max Eliscu, Chief Executive Officer at Viewpost said the virtual commercial card products will enhance the company's suite of real-time cash management solutions. "This partnership accelerates our ability to address costly pain points in the multitrillion-dollar B2B [business-to-business] payments ecosystem while also, and perhaps most importantly, bringing flexibility, cost savings and simplicity of payment to the massive and underserved small business marketplace," he added.
Small business, big need
Visa and Viewpost representatives are confident the virtual commercial cards will help business owners automate their accounts payable (AP) processes, with lower costs, faster payments and more efficient workflows. Payments analysts say AP automation is still a big need for large and small businesses. "B2B payments is a $36 trillion market that is still paper bound," said Karla Friede, CEO at NVoicepay, a cloud-based payment service provider. "Banks frequently promote their purchase card products to small business clients, which are not the simplest, most efficient payment methods." Friede said the complex multilayered B2B sector needs efficient, automated systems. "There hasn't been a true automation," she said. "More than half of supplier payments are still made by paper check; business owners must manage numerous payment flows and processes."
Designed to automate routine accounting practices while increasing security and convenience, virtual commercial cards are compatible with most financial institution systems. Viewpost representatives expect the new payment schemes to enhance its existing B2B payment network, which, Viewpost noted, has processed $71.4 billion in B2B payments since the company was established in 2011.
When enrolled customers pay with virtual card products, suppliers receive a one-time virtual account number to post to their merchant account. Both payer and payee receive detailed remittance information. Suppliers who are not set up to accept virtual commercial card payments can use a simplified enrollment method to receive payment. Viewpoint representatives expect the automated enrollment and remittance methods to improve conversion and adoption rates.
Viewpost works with an array of enterprise-scale and small to midsize business clients, including Accenture, Florida Hospital Medical Center, Georgetown University, the Orlando Magic and Whole Foods Market. The company state is has partnered with U.S. Bank, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank and other financial institutions to bring cash management tools to business customers.
SMB growth potential
The SMB Emerging Trends in Accounting Report 2017, published by Viewpost in February 2017, found high usage of nonautomated, manual systems among small business owners. Reliance on manual systems can impede a company's ability to manage receivables and cash flow, Viewpost representatives stated. "Small businesses continue to be highly dependent on spreadsheets, manual data entry and the postal service," Eliscu stated. "They lack both connectivity to their trading partners as well as automation to help reconcile and understand their cash flow."
Mercator Advisory Group's 2016 Small Business Payments and Banking Survey, published in February 2017, found more than two thirds of small business owners surveyed prefer online banking tools to supplier websites when paying invoices. The survey additionally indicated that 84 percent of respondents visit physical bank branches to make teller deposits. Ken Paterson, Vice President of Research Operations at Mercator Advisory Group, sees strong potential in the Visa-Viewpost partnership. It promises to offer "a seamless integration for banks who are looking to enable their customers to have one centralized destination for all of their corporate payment needs," he said.
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