What started as a CRM has turned into a platform that helps companies manage the full customer lifecycle: from marketing, to customer adoption, all the way to processing sales. Fintech companies have helped turn Salesforce into a platform with broad financial capabilities. There are countless apps and companies specializing in bringing finance to Salesforce. Just check out the Salesforce AppExchange, which currently has 178 specific apps under the finance tag. Accounting apps like Quickbooks enable companies to run their accounting departments from Salesforce. Companies like Jungo bring automation to loan officers. The Albridge integration lets wealth managers consolidate client information, update positions, and provide reports. "Other companies are working on wealth management, accounting, and other financial integrations for Salesforce, but we chose to go a different route," said Micaiah Filkins, co-founder and president of of sales and product of AppFrontier, a provider that brings payments to Salesforce. "Over the past few years there's been a trend in frictionless payments for financial services. We saw the incorporation of seamless payments into Salesforce as a no brainier." AppFrontier is part of a growing group of companies designed to help customers get the most out of Salesforce. Its product, Chargent, works natively with Salesforce, communicating with payment gateways and connecting payment processing to the platform. This allows CRM administrators to manage one time and recurring payments from Salesforce, providing a one-stop organizational tool for users. Technology companies have jumped on the opportunity to provide new services to Salesforce customers, but these companies exist only because of the ability to customize the platform through third party apps. Salesforce's skeleton structure allows people to create an experience that caters to their needs. Individuals can integrate apps listed on the app exchange or hire a consultant or developer to create a more personalized service. For companies that use Salesforce for accounting, incorporating payment capabilities to the platform can be a smooth and simple transition. Though there are many companies that specialize in providing third party services, there may be an issue they'll have to deal with in the near future. If Salesforce decides to develop its own financial services functionality into the platform, third party apps may seem themselves competing with Salesforce itself. "Third party apps, like those providing payment processing, are one way to put a nice addition to the structure while keeping everything under one roof," said Dan Pelberg, founder of Pelberg Consulting, a Salesforce consulting firm. "There are countless third-party companies creating additional functionality for use within Salesforce. But the game will really be changed once Salesforce decides to allow for payment processing within the basic structure of the platform itself."
Salesforce has its own suite of services for financial firms. The Salesforce Financial Services Cloud was launched in August 2015, providing tools for advisors at wealth managers, insurers, and banks.
The firm has also started to rollout in-house payment processing with its $2.8 billion acquisition of Demandware, an ecommerce service provider, earlier this year. At the 2016 Dreamforce conference, the company was rebranded as Commerce Cloud.
Though Salesforce is getting involved in payment processing, Filkins believes it won't impact Chargent. Commerce Cloud targets retail ecommerce sales specifically, not broad payments processing. Creating an ecommerce solution is one thing, but moving into the regulatory nightmare of payments is a whole other ballgame.
"Salesforce doesn't get into specifics. It's primarily a platform company, and has been successful staying horizontal," remarked AppFrontier's Filkins. "They are dabbling in payment processing, but going deeper into payments and getting elbows deep into regulation and compliance is something they don't want to get involved in."