What are the most promising trends in BtoB Payment?

Maxime Mandin
Jul 13 · 7 min read

A current overview of one of the hottest sector in Fintech

2021 payment champions — © BlackFin Tech

If we had to name one fintech sector that benefited from the pandemic crisis, it would definitely be Payment. With the shift towards an economy that relies much more on online interactions, online payments have increased a lot since 2020. According to Business Insider, “the coronavirus pandemic accelerated payments industry digitization by two to three years”. To give you figures, the global digital payments industry is expected to hit $6.6trn value in 2021, a 40% increase in two years — according to data presented by Finaria.it.

A more structural reason that explains why Payment is so hot at the moment lies in the fact that payment companies are easily able to expand internationally. As payment is used everywhere, it’s not hard for a fintech like Stripe or Adyen to convince customers all over the world.

Today, payment companies are the ones with the highest valuations. It’s particularly true in Europe, with fintechs like Klarna ($45.6B), Checkout.com ($15B), Rapyd ($2.5B) or Ppro ($1B). As reported in CB Insights Q1 2021 Fintech Report, all of them raised mega-rounds in the first quarter of 2021 that put their valuation above the symbolic sum of one billion dollars.

The three graphs below show:

(1) how big has become payment industry compared to other fintech categories in terms of VC funding, both in the world and in Europe:

© BlackFin Tech
© BlackFin Tech

(2) inside the payment sector itself, how great the beginning of 2021 has been in terms of funding compared to 2020:

© BlackFin Tech

Nevertheless, payment companies are not homogeneous. Now that you get why Payment companies can’t be ignored in the coming years, let’s deep dive into the different trends of BtoB payment solutions, subgroups and what’s at stake for each segment. Who are those payment platforms offering new payment experiences for “B” customers?

A — BtoB solutions for e-merchants

© BlackFin Tech
  1. Payment orchestration platforms

These platforms are appealing to e-merchants as they are one-stop shop solutions and can be considered as (partial) outsourcing of the payment department of those merchants. By enabling the aggregation of PSP, they increase the number of connected acquirers, conversion and performance rate. Last but not least, by offering the opportunity to pre-integrate payment methods and services around payment (fraud detection, analytics), these solutions enable fast-scaling and roll-out.

What are some potential limitations? First, those one-stop shop solutions might create by definition a single point of failure for merchants in case of technical issue. Second, PSP and service providers might see those players as distribution channels but are generally rather reluctant to be integrated in those platforms which are disintermediating them.

2. Fraud detection

These new generation solutions are powered by machine learning, which delivers significantly better performance compared to previous business rules-based fraud detection engines. It results in reducing the number of false positive and frauds, which in turn generates proven ROI for e-merchants.

Nevertheless, these premium solutions require model training in order to detect specific and advanced fraud patterns — and are therefore a bit overengineered and expensive for small merchants.

3. Split payment

You’ve probably heard of Klarna’s skyrocketting valuation in the last months… Well, it seems merchants like a lot solutions that let customers pay their purchases in several times — sometimes referred to as “Buy Now, Pay Later” services. More and more popular on the buyer side, split payment solutions increase both merchant basket and the pool of eligible customers.

Two aspects can slow down the adoption of BNPL solutions: first, they require another integration in merchant checkout if performed by a pure-player for an optimal user experience and end customer scoring . Second, financing fees have to be paid mostly by merchants, thus reducing their margin.

4. Account to account

What exists in BtoC is also possible for enterprises. Account to account payment enables merchants to bypass card scheme, resulting in lower payment fees.

But at the moment, bank API development stage does not currently allow reliable payment in each country nor instant payment which might delay the order validation from the merchant. In addition, end-users are not benefiting from loyalties, cashback or insurance usually included in cards.

B. Solutions for SMEs and corporates

© BlackFin Tech
  1. Spending management solutions

For SMEs and corporates, expense management solutions participate in better spending monitoring: the technology offers real time monitoring, by department and per person. It enables better control via displaying spending rules and notifications, which in turn enable higher trust and autonomy. If used with a credit card, these solutions can also produce cash-flow optimisation.

One of the main drawbacks is related to corporate culture: sometimes, CEOs can be wrongly reluctant to issue too many cards in one company even if there are many control features.

2. Cross-border payments solutions

Thanks to globalization of the economy, more and more payments are made across borders. Still, SMEs often struggle to get access to premium services like real-time FOREX quote, forward, payment tracking or even a dedicated salesperson through their existing banks.

Even if more digital and providing a far better experience, these cross-border payments solutions are not fully automatic, but are rather managed services solutions — especially for sophisticated products like forward or flexible forward.

3. Card acceptance for offline merchants

These very popular B2B solutions enable SMEs to accept card payments. They are less expensive than incumbent providers if usage is limited, and the robust device they go with fits for outdoor activities.

The challenges are linked to fraud concerns (some customers are worried to use those new devices that they don’t recognize) and how expensive the solution can become if used intensively. Indeed, there are no fixed fees but higher variable fees.

4. Card-issuing-as-a-service

Card issuing-as-a-service is clearly a big trend of the latest years as those solutions come with several advantages for the companies: for instance, they allow faster payment to carriers/riders in gig economy and facilitate claims reimbursement in real time for insurers’ clients on the card that is issued for them. Card issuing-as-a-service also increase branding and provide additional revenues stream (interchange).

The only challenge is the time and fees it takes to issue and manage cards.

5. From finance monitoring to payment automation

Some new players entering the payment field have started upstream in the process (with treasury/cash management, account receivables, accounts payable, accounting), and are now going downstream, with vertical integration towards payment.

It’s a natural move that adds a lot of value for SMBs and increases stickiness to their solutions. These players already own the relevant data to prepare and process the data that they can also easily reconcile.

Payment is a different world for these new players that requires most of the time new payment skills/methods (per geography) and therefore external partners like BaaS providers (e.g. ModularBank).

To conclude with, let’s quote our colleague Michele who wrote the following in his Prediction piece from January:

“From GoCardless’ SDD approach to Token or Yapily PSD2-enabled PISP, the payment industry is at a crucial turning point where debit cards could soon become obsolete and instant A2A payments standing as “the new black”. 2021 will unveil the true potential of these new payment experiences (either via new standards, like SEPA Instant, or via technology), and the payment ecosystem will shake again.

We hope this overview of the payment sector helps you picture all the potential that lies in it for the coming years, and anticipate better the big shifts in what is one of the hottest trends in Fintech.

BlackFin Tech

Thoughts and ideas on all things fintech & insurtech.

BlackFin Tech

Thoughts and ideas on all things fintech & insurtech. Managed by BlackFin Tech, a € 180m independent European Fintech VC and its team

Maxime Mandin

Written by

Venture Capital Investor (0.5–10M€) in French, German, Benelux startups @Blackfin_tech, #FinTech #InsurTech #blockchain Formerly @SeventureP @XAngeVC

BlackFin Tech

Thoughts and ideas on all things fintech & insurtech. Managed by BlackFin Tech, a € 180m independent European Fintech VC and its team