‘$130 trillion of global B2B trade is coming online’: Balance looks to digitize payments for B2B ecommerce
- Balance claims it’s the first ecommerce payments platform that’s custom-built for B2B merchants and marketplaces.
- The firm aims to facilitate the digitization of B2B trade through its payments infrastructure.
B2B ecommerce has seen rapid growth in the recent past. A growing number of B2B ecommerce marketplaces have started to emerge, speeding up the digitization of business-to-business trade. This trend has gained further momentum through the pandemic: in the last year alone, sales on B2B ecommerce websites in the U.S. grew by 10% to reach $1.4 trillion.
The rapid growth of B2B ecommerce platforms has been accompanied by an increasing demand for dedicated payments solutions to help ensure a smooth online checkout experience for B2B customers.
This is where Balance comes in. The Israeli startup claims it’s the first B2B ecommerce payments platform that offers a consumer-like checkout experience for merchants and marketplaces. Balance offers flexible payment terms and gives buyers various payment options including credit card, ACH, wire transfer, and check. It also enables merchants to receive their payments instantly.
Balance co-founders Bar Geron and Yoni Shuster previously worked as senior decision scientists at PayPal, where they saw the struggles of B2B merchants who were unable to transition to the digital space because of outdated payments infrastructure. As time went on, Geron and Shuster realized there was a growing need for a dedicated payments solution for the digital B2B checkout experience. This led to the birth of Balance in 2020.
“Past efforts to facilitate B2B payments were centered around retrofitting B2C solutions into the B2B world. But that didn’t truly address the nature of B2B, where credit cards make up less than 10% of all transactions, and a lot of trust is required to facilitate net terms,” explained Geron. “That’s why we didn’t adapt a B2C checkout platform to serve some B2B use cases, but rather built it from the ground up to support all business-to-business transactions.”
Companies using Balance’s platform range from startups to publicly traded firms across industries such as steel, freight, hardware, food delivery, medical supplies, apparel, and more. Customers include Bryzos, an online steel marketplace, Choco, a digital platform linking restaurants with their suppliers, and GoShip, an online shipping exchange that connects shippers and carriers. Details on how these companies utilize Balance’s payments infrastructure can be found here.
Balance recently raised $25 million in a Series A funding round, seven months after its seed round of $5.5 million back in February. Since that time, the firm has experienced growth of around 500% to 600%, according to Geron.
The latest funding round was led by Ribbit Capital, with participation from Avid Ventures as well as existing investors Lightspeed Ventures, Stripe, SciFi VC and UpWest. Other individual investors include executives from Square, PayPal, Coinbase, and Plaid.
“Spaces don't get much bigger than the digitization of B2B transactions,” said Jordan Angelos, general partner at Ribbit Capital. “$130 trillion of global B2B trade is inevitably coming online, and Balance gives ecommerce businesses a purpose-built toolkit to facilitate this transition.”
The pandemic has created a major opportunity for the digitization of B2B payments, according to Siamac Rezaiezadeh, director of product marketing at payments firm GoCardless. Recent data from Nacha – the governing body behind ACH payments – shows that B2B payments on the ACH network grew by 29% in the second quarter of 2021.
“Businesses don’t want to handle checks anymore. With so many people working remotely, it’s much harder to rely on an individual sitting across from you to authorize and manually make a payment,” said Rezaiezadeh. “Accounting teams now require integrated, cost-effective systems, and digital payment options are a natural solution.”
A particular trend worth keeping an eye on is the growth of Buy Now, Pay Later for B2B ecommerce, according to Rezaiezadeh. “I think it’s only a matter of time before the strong demand for BNPL among consumers spills over into the business sphere – and that makes sense because merchants want credit terms for buying infrastructure”, he said.