Visa steps up B2B payments game with launch of Commercial Pay

The Visa-branded app was developed exclusively for the credit card giant's commercial clients

Last week, we reported on Mastercard investing heavily in its business-to-business offerings.

This week, it’s competitor Visa’s turn to announce its own big B2B payments push.

The credit card giant said on Monday morning that it has partnered with Conferma Pay, a London-based provider of virtual payments technology, to launch Visa Commercial Pay.

Visa describes the new initiative as a “suite of B2B payments solutions” designed to help improve cash flow for businesses and eliminate “outdated manual processes.” The cards will be available to financial institutions and their corporate customers. They will give buyers and suppliers a way to pay and bill each other, as well as giving employees a way to spend money on work-related purchases more easily and transparently.

The two companies in May revealed the partnership, saying at the time they would integrate Visa’s virtual cards into the Conferma Pay mobile app. But today, they revealed a Visa-branded app, developed exclusively by Conferma Pay and Visa for the credit card giant’s commercial clients. 

This is yet another example of a large financial institution opting to partner with a fintech to build out digital offerings rather than attempt to build them out themselves, a process that would likely take much longer and be more expensive.

I’ve reached out to Visa with some questions and will update this story if they get back to me but for now, here’s a summary of what the new B2B payment offerings will look like:

  • Visa Commercial Pay Mobile: The app will host digitally-issued Visa virtual commercial cards on employee and contractors’ mobile devices. The goal is to give employees a way to make business purchases, whether online or in-store tap to pay capabilities through integration into mobile wallets.
  • Visa Commercial Pay Travel: This aims to give businesses a way to centrally manage their business travel expenses, such as air and hotel. It “seamlessly integrates” into business travel reservation processes and delivers enhanced data, full spend visibility and automated expense reconciliation, according to Visa. Employees and contractors who also use the Visa Commercial Pay Mobile app are able to view their reservations and total spend within the app.
  • Visa Commercial Pay B2B: This platform combines the capabilities of Visa and Conferma Pay, to give buyers and suppliers more options to pay and get paid (this is very much also a goal of Mastercard with its new Track Business Payment Service) . It provides a range of features designed to help companies better manage cash flow and capture enhanced data for reconciliation and reporting capabilities. Companies can either use this via a single program management platform or via an integrated solution into third-party procurement platforms.

In a written statement, Visa’s global head of business solutions Kevin Phalen said that businesses are turning to Visa and its clients “with a great sense of urgency to help them solve payment inefficiencies that the pandemic has quickly exposed.”

Conferma Pay CEO Simon Barker said the increased number of remote workers has made it “far more difficult” to monitor, reconcile and approve spend.

“With a new economic environment, the controls to decentralize payments have to be put in place,” said Barker, in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Truist – the nation’s sixth largest bank – also recently announced the formation of an Enterprise Payments Group that will be responsible for “driving a coordinated strategy and execution across Truist’s payments businesses, enabling the delivery of next generation payment products, services, and infrastructure to meet clients’ needs and drive financial results.”

There’s no doubt that the B2B payments space is a massive, and hot, one. In August, FinLedger looked at how mass adoption of digitizing finances – fueled largely by the COVID-19 pandemic – is only driving demand in the sector. And in September, we reported on Veem, which has developed a global payments network for businesses, closed on a $31 million Series C round to become “the Venmo for businesses.”

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