Barclaycard is working with Silicon Valley startup Crowdz to digitise and speed up what is still for many firms a slow and clunky business-to-business supply chain.
While contactless cards and mobile phones have revolutionised the consumer payments scene, the B2B space is moving far more slowly, with just one on four transactions in the supply chain digitised.
Selling or finding business services can mean flicking through a catalogue, making phone calls, invoicing on paper and dealing with clunky and antiquated payments systems. The result, says Barclaycard, is more than $4 trillion in lost sales and unneeded costs each year.
Crowdz is looking to change this, providing a blockchain-based marketplace that connects businesses seamlessly and digitally, moving the entire procurement process online.
The startup promises to make it easier for users to find suppliers and sell to other firms, while documents are digitised. The firm also enables the selling of both invoices and purchase orders, allowing smaller businesses to get paid earlier and keep cash flowing. Transactions take place over a tamper-proof Ethereum blockchain.
Crowdz took part in Barclays' 2018 Accelerator programme, where it was sponsored by Barclaycard Payment Solutions. Now that the programme is over, Barclaycard is sticking by the firm, providing funding and support for a proof-of-concept to turn the proposition into a fully-functioning ecosystem.
Barclaycard will integrate its payment gateway into Crowdz's platform and also give a small group of clients access to the marketplace to measure its impact on their business and refine the platform’s capability to suit real-world needs.
This will take place over 24 weeks, with measurements taken of the buyer and seller customer experience, viability as a value-added product and the quality of the commercial model. If successful, a trial in the commercial space is expected.
Nick Kerigan, MD, future payments, Barclaycard Payment Solutions, says: "The B2B payments space is a huge potential area of growth and this proof of concept is about learning the requirements of operating successfully in this space."