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Fast and frictionless: What B2B payments can learn from B2C

3-minute read

Business-to-business (B2B) payments are a world away from business-to-consumer (B2C). Where B2C offers remarkable simplicity, B2B all too often comes with complex processes. But there’s also common ground. Rob Tuckwell, Director of Partnerships and B2B, Barclaycard Payments explains what the world of B2B payments has learned from its consumer counterpart.

Fast and frictionless
Rob Tuckwell

Rob Tuckwell, Director of Partnerships and B2B at Barclaycard Payments

When it comes to payments, a customer’s a customer. Whether buying for yourself or on behalf of a business, everyone wants an efficient payment process. And if it’s fast, flexible and frictionless, even better.

To keep pace with customer expectations, B2B payments are having to evolve fast. Already accelerated by the pandemic, digital and automated B2B payments are predicted to have a global market value of £1.36tn by 2028.  Meanwhile, research by Gartner suggests 80% of B2B payments will be digital by 2025.

Thanks to the era of Finance 4.0, businesses are enjoying the benefits of greater payment flexibility and security. However, B2B payment processes are not without their challenges.

The difference between B2B and B2C payment ecosystems

It used to be that businesses led the way and consumer behaviour followed. Today it’s the opposite, with B2B payments having to keep up with B2C.

On one hand there’s B2C, where paying with a credit card is delightfully simple. A business can simply take orders from customers, safe in the knowledge that the necessary due diligence checks have been carried out on their behalf.

On the other, you’ve got some forms of B2B payments. Involving budget holders, PO numbers, cost centre codes, goods receipt notes, invoices and more, the process can be lengthy. From three-way matches (between PO number, goods receipt and invoice) to processing expenses, businesses end up juggling demands around budgeting, forecasting and compliance.

Fast and frictionless

Why the payments process gap needs to be bridged 

While the language around B2B and B2C payments might sound poles apart, there is some common ground. For instance, a rebate in B2B terms is simply what the world of retail calls cashback (aka incentivising customers to make a payment on a card). A business’s working capital is virtually the same as a consumer’s interest-free credit period. And, arguably, B2B net payment terms are simply what the consumer world now refers to as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL).

Another similarity is people. The individuals who are making purchases in their everyday lives are also making transactions in the workplace. This is perhaps most keenly seen among the digital generation. As the next generation of leaders grow into their roles, the development and adoption of intuitive, simple systems that mirror their own customer journeys is key. 

The benefits of B2B card payments

Thankfully, innovation in the B2B payment landscape is giving buyers and suppliers the convenience and confidence they have come to expect. Leading the charge are B2B card transactions. 

With company background checks (e.g. Know Your Customer and credit assessments) on corporate buyers taken care of, B2B suppliers can accept orders knowing they’ll receive the money in a fast and frictionless way. Due diligence is also carried out on companies wanting to accept payment by card, going further than many of the checks buyers complete on their suppliers. 

The detail and consistency of these processes ensures the integrity of the network and gives corporate buyers the confidence to use their cards for both one-off and more regular payments.

How B2C is paving the way for a better future for B2B payments

Here are some of the ways in which B2B payments are taking B2C trends and making them their own.

virtual cards

Virtual cards

Like traditional company cards, but digital. Generated out of Procure to Pay (P2P) systems, virtual cards help improve working capital, protect the supply chain, reduce the risk of fraud, increase the potential for rebates and boost payment agility. Generated on demand, they are fast, efficient and flexible.


Straight-through processing

Seen by many as the future of regular spend (which can involve millions of invoices), straight-through processing (STP) avoids the need for human intervention. An order comes in on a virtual card, the card is automatically charged and the money is routed straight back to the supplier’s bank account. STP helps simplify reconciliation, protect working capital and offer more control of cashflow.


Barclaycard Precisionpay Mastercard Track

By combining the virtual card solution, (Barclaycard Precisionpay) with the unique payments ecosystem (Mastercard Track), buyers and suppliers can modernise their B2B payments. Buyers get a single connection to a global network, improved working capital, and stronger relationships with suppliers thanks to automated payments. Suppliers benefit from greater visibility of transactions, improved process efficiency and optimised cashflow.

Ready to revamp your payment strategy?

Here’s how your business can unlock untapped value through B2B card payments:

Earlier settlement

Payment is prompt, reducing your Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) without impacting your cashflow.

Manage risk

Added protection means you shouldn’t be left out of pocket, while visibility of spend helps minimise fraud.

Process efficiency

Compared to traditional bank rails (e.g. BACS or Faster Payment), you’re in control. Ad hoc payments and reconciliation are simplified.

Key differentiator

Card acceptance can be used to stand out from the crowd, drive additional wallet share and boost business development.

An agile, flexible future

If you're ready to enjoy the benefits that fast, automated B2B payments can bring, Barclaycard Payments can help. Discover more about the rapidly evolving B2B payments landscape on the B2B payments hub

Resources to help you make your next move

Tomorrows world today

The biggest B2B payment trends for the future

CFOs have rarely faced a more challenging operating environment. But they’re ready to embrace B2B payments innovation and make the most of new opportunities.

Business to business

Business to business payments news

In an ever-evolving payments landscape, only the most up-to-date guidance can help you find your way through. So we bring together the news and expertise you need to harness the power of B2B payments.

Ready to power your next move

Ready to make your next move?

Call us on 0808 189 3579, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, or request a call back from our B2B payments specialists.

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