This week, I was at the inaugural in-person Fintech Meetup conference in Las Vegas, chairing a panel on how fintech is disrupting global B2B payments.
It was a great discussion, alongside Nium Chief Product Officer Robin Gandhi; Visa Direct Senior Vice President, North America Head Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore; and Bank of America Head of Innovation Alexandra Johnson. Here are some of the highlights:
- The challenges of cross-border B2B payments are clear: at present, it is more complex than it needs to be and should be more accessible. Customers want payments infrastructure to improve for B2B, reducing manual effort and increasing efficiencies. The legacy-based nature of the system produces significant pain points, and limited ideas around B2B’s potential can cap its development.
- On the subject of the consumerisation of treasury functions, the industry is seen as being in the early stages. Consumers have been driving plenty of innovation that is now making its way into B2B payments.
- The panel also got into the topic of speed versus transparency. There is an ongoing question over which one businesses look for and some debate about which of these two factors was more important. However, the issue of variation did also get raised, with far greater transparency on some corridors than others. Here, there are a variety of use cases for fintech tackling transparency across different corridors.
- The potential of blockchain for B2B payments was also discussed. Companies are developing blockchain initiatives, however such projects are only as good as the participating network; for example, the use of distributed ledger technology-based central bank digital currencies in cross-border payments. The ability to tokenise transactions was identified as a potential benefit for the space, with some arguing that crypto will ultimately benefit B2B payments.
- Finally, the question of partnering was also discussed – currently a widespread trend in the industry more broadly. The panel argued that companies such as Bank of America, Nium and Visa Direct do and need to work together since there is already an inter-reliance between banks and fintechs. Banks can’t do it all: the more they can innovate with fintech partners, the faster B2B payments grow.