While U.S. banks and clearing houses contemplate how to convert the country's payments system into near real-time, Taulia has made strides by offering a dynamic discounting option to encourage clients to use its technology for B2B payments.
With dynamic discounting, a supplier agrees to lower a client's invoice amount in exchange for receiving payment in three days or fewer. This option is enabled through a Web-based portal app that San Francisco-based Taulia offers to its clients.
"In a business world, it takes about 56 days from the point an invoice is submitted to the time a supplier gets paid," said Bob Glotfelty, director of strategic initiatives for Taulia. "Think about that in the consumer world, if you didn't get paid for 56 days after some work you did. You'd probably be pretty upset by that."
Taulia serves companies like John Deere and Coca-Cola Bottling that have hundreds of suppliers to pay on a regular basis. But the company also focuses on helping small businesses supplying the large clients that use Taulia's invoicing, e-payment and business management services.
Taulia operates on the belief that 47% of suppliers are paid late for their products or services. If Nacha and others succeed in speeding up ACH payments to near real-time, Taulia clients would benefit from that speed as well. But the vendor is satisfied that its incentive process can provide a significant enough boost in speed to satisfy its clients.
"If we can speed up something by 50 days already, it makes waiting on those maybe one or two extra days [for a payment to clear] much less of an immediate focus," Glotfelty said.
To offer an incentive for a faster payment, a supplier would log into its buyer's branded portal just like a consumer would connect to an online banking system. "They can see all of the invoices and the payment history to help them decide if they would like to get paid early," Glotfelty said. If the supplier works with several buyers, it can log into a Taulia portal to view information from multiple buyers and choose payment dates on a calendar format.
While alternative payments companies like Square and PayPal offer small loans to their small-merchant clients to fund the expansion of their businesses, Taulia sees its dynamic discounting service accomplishing the same goal.
"Square Capital has so much data on the folks they lend to, we turn that around a little and base it off of the use of early payment acting as a short-term loan," Glotfelty said. Receiving a payment 50 days ahead of schedule may provide much-needed funds that a business might otherwise look to borrow, he said.
Taulia understands that large corporations typically sit on excess cash rather than use it to pay their suppliers quickly, said Nancy Atkinson, wholesale banking expert and senior analyst with Aite Group.
"Large buyers have power over small business suppliers and they want 'open-account' terms, meaning they will pay at an established time after delivery of goods or services," Atkinson said.
Forms of dynamic discounting have been offered for many years, but Taulia adds an online tool for negotiation and workflow, Atkinson said.
Taulia allows businesses to pay suppliers through domestic and international wires, Single Euro Payments Area payments in Europe, automated clearinghouse transactions or paper checks.
As more options such as mobile wallets come into play, Taulia plans to support those on its platform as well, Glotfelty said.
"Mobile is getting exciting in this arena, more from the standpoint of a supplier tracking all of their transactions on a mobile device," Glotfelty added. "They want to know when they are getting paid, and using mobile is just like checking your mobile banking to see if a payment cleared."