Accepting payments in a business-to-business (B2B) setting presents different challenges than in business-to-consumer (B2C). Businesses sometimes have to wait longer to receive payments from other businesses, and the amounts are often high.
As someone who has worked extensively in B2B, I understand how crucial it is to get the right payment systems in place. You want to balance customer convenience with processing times and fees. It's also important to streamline the user experience. To help you select payment methods for your business, we’ve broken down the 6 most popular options along with the pros and cons of each.
What Are B2B Payments?
B2B payments refer to financial transactions between two businesses, such as payments for goods and services, sometimes in the form of vendor contracts. B2B payment methods include digital wallets, credit cards, checks, and even cash.
Because of the nature of business accounting, B2B payments are more complex than B2C payments and may require purchase orders and invoices. These invoices often go through several steps to be approved, which may take a while.
With the rise of digital payment methods, B2B payments are becoming more streamlined and efficient. These payment methods are especially convenient for smaller or recurring payments.
6 Most Popular B2B Payment Methods
1. Credit Cards
Credit cards are one of the most popular payment methods for B2B payments. Business credit cards are especially prevalent in The UK, Netherlands, US, Australia, and Singapore.
Credit card payments often mean high processing fees for merchants. But despite the high fees, more than 75% of businesses accept credit card payments from business customers, according to one worldwide study by Statista. The most popular business credit cards include Visa, American Express, and Mastercard.
- Card payments are easy to track, especially with Pay.com's customer insights for detailed reports at your fingertips.
- There are many security tools available for card transactions, such as 3D Secure 2.0 to help monitor for fraud.
- The payments are incredibly fast, improving cash flow.
- Merchants face high processing fees (around 3%).
- Chargebacks and fraudulent use can affect the receiver's cash flow.
2. Automated Clearing House (ACH)
ACH payments are a type of electronic fund transfer from the customer’s bank account to the merchant’s bank account. In the B2B setting, ACH is commonly used for recurring charges such as a monthly payment to a consultant on retainer.
ACH is a cost-efficient option for many businesses, with low or no fees for merchants and customers. Payments can be canceled or refunded by the sender or the recipient if something goes wrong.
- ACH payments are convenient and remove friction for recurring payments, which helps increase customer retention.
- Fees for ACH processing are lower than for card or wire transfers.
- They are a secure option since the ACH network is bound by strict regulations.
- While international ACH is available, not all banks offer it.
- The processing times for ACH are slow – they may take up to 3 days.
- ACH payments may have daily, weekly, or monthly limits depending on the financial institutions.
3. Wire Transfers
Similar to ACH, wire transfers are a method of electronically transferring payments directly into the merchant’s bank account. Customers can request transfers directly from their banks or from financial institutions like MoneyGram, Wise, or Western Union.
Wire transfers can be particularly useful for businesses that operate across different countries since they rely on the international SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network.
Wire transfers are quicker than ACH, but often come with hefty fees. That’s why they are used mostly for high-value but infrequent B2B purchases like manufacturing orders from another country.
- Wire transfers are faster than ACH and only take a day or two to clear.
- They are accepted by financial institutions around the world.
- Wire transfers are reliable and safeguarded by strict international regulations.
- Wire transfers are hard to track, which can lead to uncertainty for merchants.
- Expensive fees, costing $20 to $50 per transaction.
- Transfers are slower than other digital methods.
4. Digital Wallets
Digital wallets are increasing in popularity for B2B transactions. PayPal is a major B2B player, as businesses can easily send and receive money from around the world.
Digital wallets enable businesses to receive funds from customers, set up recurring payments, and even issue invoices. PayPal also provides companies the ability to send money to vendors and partners. For example, businesses can use digital wallets to pay for advertising, consulting, or other services.
- Payments are sent in real time with user notifications.
- Digital wallets are easy to track and report on.
- Many services offer cross-border payment options
- Digital wallets are not as widely accepted as traditional payment methods.
- The fees are often high for recipients – PayPal charges between 3-5% depending on the country.
- It can be hard to know which services to accept with so many region-specific options.
Despite their decline in usage around the world, checks remain a popular payment method for B2B transactions. In the Association for Financial Professional’s 2022 Digital Payments Survey, checks made up nearly 33% of B2B payments in the US and Canada.
Checks are slower than card or digital payment methods, but long turnaround times are common for many types of B2B transactions. Despite their continued use in North America, many countries – like South Africa, New Zealand, Finland, and Poland – have phased out checks completely.
- Simpler to process than digital payment methods.
- Cheaper than other payment options, with no fees for the sender or merchant.
- Leaves a paper trail for accounting and auditing purposes.
- Bounced checks pose a risk to cash flow.
- Checks are more prone to human errors like wrong account numbers.
With the rise of online payments, cash transactions have steadily declined. However, cash remains prevalent for B2B transactions in Latin America and parts of Southeast Asia – mainly for paying local suppliers. There is also some cash use in the US and Europe, mainly between small businesses.
For many businesses, the biggest benefit to cash is ease of use. There are no processing fees, no need for complex electronic systems, and no waiting for the money to be deposited.
Conversely, it is harder to trace and keep track of cash. This can make accounting and budgeting a challenge, especially in the long run. Statista reported that 38.4% of businesses offered cash payments on delivery as a payment method for their business customers.
- Cash is an immediate payment method.
- It’s highly accessible for most businesses.
- There are no high processing fees.
- Cash transactions are hard to track.
- Cash is only a viable option for local B2B transactions.
- If cash is lost or stolen, there is no real recourse for the business.
The Best Way to Accept B2B Payments
Pay.com is the ideal payment solution for B2B transactions, as it offers a wide range of payment methods. Businesses may prefer to pay a certain way, so having several choices will allow them to choose what works best for them.
From advanced API integrations for your developers to create unique and engaging user experiences to a pre-built checkout option for fast implementation, Pay.com caters to the needs of any business.
We incorporate cutting-edge security features like tokenization and multifactor authentication, providing added protection for all transactions.
With a transparent flat-fee payment structure, Pay.com eliminates the worry of added costs associated with switching payment providers. Whether you need a simple invoicing solution or a custom-designed payment platform, you will pay a single flat fee per transaction.
The Bottom Line
The variety of B2B payment methods can seem overwhelming, but it's important to evaluate which best serve your company's needs. Traditional methods like wire transfer and ACH remain popular as options like digital wallets and card payments are becoming even more common.
As a business owner, you’ll want your payments to be processed in a smooth and secure way. Pay.com offers a robust payment system that can help you do just that!
With the ability to securely accept business credit cards, digital wallets, and more, Pay.com makes B2B payments a breeze.