Cross-border B2B payments are frustrating, time consuming, and expensive, especially for small and medium businesses. To dig into why and what's being done to overcome those concerns, join George and Marwan Forzley, CEO of Veem, for an explanation.

SMB B2B payments, particularly cross border payments, have always been time consuming to accomplish and expensive to do.

They are time consuming because sending an international “wire” payment was historically slow with uncertain delivery timing and with uncertain, and high, costs to both the sender and the receiver. For the sender, the process of initiating a cross-border payment has always taken no little time compared, for example, to writing a check.

Cost is a second concern because cross-border payment economics are not always transparent. At least a few times a year, when Glenbrook gets paid by one of our international clients, the funds we receive are less than what we invoiced. While our client sends us the correct amount at the prevailing exchange rate, intermediaries along the way may take “bene deduct fees” - beneficiary deductions - from the funds in transit in order to compensate themselves for their services. I prefer the more accurate term of “lifting fees."

This uncertainty of timing and cost affects millions of small businesses participating in the global supply chain.

Companies like Veem, Western Union, TransferWise, PayPal and many others compete on speed, predictability, low cost, and global reach. Super helpful integration into business accounting and AR/AP functions is a big plus.

Veem’s story is compelling as it began using the bitcoin blockchain to send money between its operations in multiple countries. Since then, the company has added other partners and its own in-country account balances to fund transactions. Veem’s SMB customers can send money to 90 countries and receive funds in 25. The company has served over 100,000 SMB customers.

If blockchain, cross-border, B2B, small business and fintech are terms that interest you, take a listen to George and Marwan as they catch up on the company, SMB pain points, and the impact of Chinese tariffs on Veem customers.

If you're in Atlanta in April, check out the Fintech South Conference. Glenbrook partners Elizabeth McQuerry and Beth Horowitz Steel will be there. Get in touch!

 

Direct download: EP89_Veem.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

The digital marketplace model brings together buyers and sellers and, frequently, handles the money and payouts to the sellers.

As my guest today has determined, digital infrastructure, e-commerce usage, competition, and workforce characteristics influence a country’s ability to establish a flourishing marketplace component to the economy.

This marketplace economic model is a useful one enabling, among other use cases, the gig economy. Adopted in countries like China, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and other established markets, this episode’s guest, Tomas Likar, Head of Business Development and Strategy at Hyperwallet, has done a lot of thinking about its role in these and other countries.

This podcast was prompted by Hyperwallet’s February 2019 release of its Marketplace Expansion Index report, the MEI, that evaluated the marketplace readiness of some 36 countries.

A surprise is the early stage of marketplace adoption in a number of otherwise highly developed countries.

The application of the marketplace model to human labor is, of course, not without controversy and concern. Steady employment with guaranteed benefits is no longer an attribute of employment in many countries, replaced by the uncertainties of the gig economy. That’s the downside concern. On the other hand, these marketplace services provide access to otherwise unavailable work and that is good news for individual and, by extension, domestic economic well being.

Take a listen to this conversation with George and Tomas Likar of Hyperwallet for an overview of marketplace adoption and the variables affecting its uptake.

Direct download: EP88_Hyperwallet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm EST

The business of merchant services continues to undergo two forms of transformation. First, the merchant services businesses, either as acquiring banks or via non-bank acquirers, has undergone massive consolidation over the last five years and more. Fiserv’s takeover of First Data, announced on January 16, is just the latest example.

The second sea change is the expansion of products and services these entities deliver. What was a fairly innovation-averse industry has become, under the competitive pressure of companies like PayPal and Square, far more committed to delivering value that helps customers run their business, not just accept card payments.

At the POS, Square changed the merchant services game by delivering a great deal more business value to the small merchant than the traditional ISO or agent focused on placing stand-beside terminals next to dumb cash registers. For the price of payment processing, Square has given those merchants inventory, time and attendance, sales and marketing focused reporting, and more.

As a result, the giants in this game have been forced to respond. In 2013, First Data acquired Clover to reach small retailers and restaurant customers. Others, like Global Payments’ Heartland unit, have invested heavily in serving the mid-tier and larger restaurant industry.

To deliver similarly broad services, TSYS recently come out with three new merchant offerings targeted at micro merchants, single shop operations, and larger merchants. The new line is called Vital, at vitalpos.com and its solutions are called Vital Mobile, Vital Plus, and Vital Select.

Along with the new Vital hardware, we can expect the offering, taking advantage of cloud delivery, to expand its software and services line-up in the future - a trick that the old POS terminal model never could pull off.

Take a listen to this episode’s discussion with Gavin Rosenberg, vice president of product marketing, at TSYS. It’s a revealing conversation about the decision making and product strategy of a major provider of merchant services.

Direct download: EP87_Vital.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:51pm EST

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