Looking at different B2B payment solutions for your SaaS? In this guide, we’ll discuss the various forms of payment available for business transactions.
Every type of business must consider how it will collect payments from its customers. However, when you operate as a B2B SaaS, the transaction process becomes more complicated than simply collecting payment for goods or services.
For example, even though it’s business-to-business, there are typically more than two parties involved. It’s also important to note that B2B transactions move at a slower pace than if you were working directly with consumers. To satisfy their own internal checks and balances, business customers require extra steps in the transaction process, including contracts, invoices, and approvals. All of these can slow the transaction process and requirements.
To keep your customers’ trust, it’s important for you to implement the best payment process possible. Not only do you need to implement a payment processing procedure that meets the needs of your customers, but you also need one that ensures swift and secure transaction processing.
In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll delve into the wonderful world of B2B payments to help you choose the right option to accept in your SaaS business.
Let’s get started.
What is B2B Payments?
A business-to-business (B2B) payment is a transaction that takes place between two businesses. It occurs when one business exchanges money (in its various forms) for goods or services rendered.
B2B differs from business-to-consumer (B2C). In B2C, an individual consumer pays a company for a product or service. But, in a B2B model, a business acts as the customer.
There are many different types of B2B payments. Additionally, a B2B payment may be a one-time-only payment or it can be received on a recurring basis.
One factor that distinguishes a B2B payment from a B2C payment is the presence of an invoice. Individual consumers don’t typically require invoices, but most business customers demand invoices as an integral part of their payment processing. This can tack on weeks, if not months, to the transaction. However, in B2C transactions, payments can be resolved immediately.
Businesses also require a contractual agreement that outlines terms and conditions.
B2B payments can occur in different mediums, including credit cards, checks, and wire transfers. Let’s take a closer look at each of the most common payment types.
The Most Common Types of B2B Payments
What are the most common payment methods that businesses use?
It’s important to get familiar with each B2B payment type. Having a good understanding of these payment types will help you better serve your business customers and improve your business operations.
Many businesses prefer to pay with credit cards, which makes this method one of the most popular forms of B2B payment. The majority of businesses have and use credit cards regularly. Credit cards provide a convenient way to settle invoices.
Additionally, credit cards offer businesses unique perks that other payment forms cannot offer. Businesses that use credit cards may enjoy cashback rewards and loyalty benefits for frequent use. Credit cards can also offer low-interest rates, making this option an attractive one for many businesses.
With credit cards, businesses have immediate access to funds and use their credit to settle bills quickly.
And last, but not least, a lot of businesses opt to pay with credit cards simply because of the built-in security benefits. It’s easy to track payments and users. It’s also easy to control access and authorization when using a credit card. Businesses that use credit cards can protect themselves from fraudulent charges.
However, there are drawbacks to using credit cards to process business payments. Credit cards often carry high fees, and not just for credit cardholders. When you receive credit card payments, you too will be required to pay fees for the transaction. Each credit card provider may charge different transaction fees and these fees can change based on how the payment is processed, making this method even more frustrating and complicated.
For businesses that engage in a huge amount of transactions, receiving credit card payments can be expensive. The fees alone could take a huge bite out of your profits.
Automated Clearing House payments, or ACH for short, is a type of electronic payment. ACH is actually the electronic equivalent of writing a check. It’s sometimes called a direct deposit or an eCheck. With this type of transaction, one business transfers funds from their bank account directly to the bank account of another business. This process can be done through direct debit or credit.
ACH is growing in popularity because it’s often faster than issuing a traditional check. On average, the time to receive an ACH payment is less than 3 business days. However, with a paper check, it often takes double that time frame, if not longer.
ACH payments are also more cost-efficient. Some banks process these payments for free with no fee for either business.
These payments are overseen by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA).
For all of its benefits, ACH payments do have drawbacks. One major consideration is the length of time it takes to set up ACH payments. This process requires both you and your business customer to fill out paperwork first before you can accept payments. This means that the initial payment can be delayed as you complete the necessary paperwork. However, after ACH is set up, subsequent payments should be processed within a matter of days.
For this reason, ACH is best suited for recurring payments. It’s less efficient for one-time-only payments.
Wire transfers have been around for a long time although they’re not the most popular B2B payment type. Wire transfers account for less than 1% of B2B payments, however, they do represent over 90% of the total amount of money transferred. In other words, wire transfers are used for moving large amounts of money from one party to another.
Wire transfers are expensive. Fees vary, but on average, businesses can expect to pay up to $50 per transaction. Compare that with ACH transfers which are usually free or close to it.
Speaking of ACH, you may be curious about the difference between ACH and wire transfers. At first glance, they are similar. They both transfer funds from one bank to the other. However, a key difference is speed. Wire transfers go through instantly, but it may take days for ACH payments to process. You can also request payments through ACH. However, you can only receive wire transfers. There’s no way to petition for payment directly through a wire transfer system.
While checks have declined somewhat in popularity for B2C businesses, they’re still widely accepted. Paper checks may not be the quickest way to transfer funds, but they are reliable.
Many businesses still use this method because checks provide built-in security, fraud protection, and a paper trail. They’re also familiar and widely accepted.
However, there are drawbacks to checks as B2B payments. Checks are notoriously slow to arrive, and can sometimes get lost in the mail. Plus, checks don’t always guarantee funds. It is possible to deposit a check that unfortunately bounces. And if that happens, you may be required to pay a fee.
Cash payments are popular for B2C transactions, but not as popular for B2B. While most companies do take cold, hard cash, cash is not preferable because it’s difficult to track. Payments can get lost or mismanaged which can lead to a headache for all parties involved. It’s also difficult to pay for language transactions through cash.
Cash is also best used for local transactions, which makes it less appropriate for online businesses like SaaS.
Most B2B SaaS will benefit from accepting multiple forms of payment, however, all methods have benefits and drawbacks. When choosing which methods to accept in your business, consider cost, convenience, and time.