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Request to Pay Arrangements Provide a New Way to Quickly Collect B2B Payments

By Mike Faden 

Request to Pay arrangements, also known as Request for Payment, are emerging new methods for quickly collecting and managing payments from businesses and consumers. These methods are features of real-time payment systems in the U.S. and other countries, and some experts expect them to become widely used.1 Proponents say they offer potential benefits over other payment collection mechanisms, including immediate payment, reduced costs and chargebacks, more detailed remittance information, and greater payment flexibility for contractors and SMEs.2

Request to Pay Basics

 

Request to Pay arrangements are messaging services built on real-time payments infrastructure that enable businesses to request and trigger payments from payees’ bank accounts.3 They have some similarities to existing bank-supported payment collection methods such as direct debit, and to capabilities provided by proprietary e-invoicing and payment platforms. But they provide advantages over those systems due to a unique combination of features, experts say:4,5

 

  • They are typically built on national payment systems, so they can be used by businesses with accounts at any bank with access to those systems.
  • They request and execute payment within seconds.
  • They can be used for ad-hoc payments, unlike direct debits, because there is no need to set up payments in advance.
  • Some methods allow payees to make partial payments or initiate a conversation about a payment with the seller.

Request to Pay approaches are generally based on one of two models. They may be built into a national clearing system to which banks connect, or they may be based on open banking, accessible to banks via application programming interfaces (APIs).6

 

How could Request to Pay be useful in B2B Payments

 

How could Request to Pay be useful in B2B transactions? U.S. payments infrastructure provider The Clearing House describes an example of how Request to Pay could facilitate a transaction between a restaurant and a food supplier that doesn’t extend trade credit. The restaurant needs produce for its dinner service that night, and the supplier needs to be paid before shipping the goods. The main steps include:

 

  • The supplier receives an order from the restaurant and sends a Request to Pay through its bank.
  • The payment infrastructure validates the request and routes it to the restaurant’s bank, which notifies the restaurant.
  • The restaurant receives the request electronically, with a “Pay Now” button. The request includes relevant invoice and remittance information so the restaurant can easily identify the corresponding order.
  • Payment completes within seconds; the supplier and restaurant are notified, and the supplier ships the produce in time for dinner.7

Potential Benefits of Request to Pay

 

Proponents say that Request to Pay potentially offers several benefits:

  • Faster payments with real-time settlement, enabling faster B2B transactions.
  • This could help SMEs that are suffering cash-flow problems due to late payments, according to some experts.8
  • The structured remittance information included in the payment messages facilitates straight-through processing.9
  • Fewer chargebacks or failed payments, because payments execute immediately and irrevocably.10
  • Flexibility for payers. In the U.K., the payer will have options to pay in full, pay in part, ask for more time or decline to pay and begin a dialogue with the requester, according to the U.K Faster Payments system provider. This could be particularly important for the growing number of contractors and small businesses that have irregular income.11
  • Businesses need only a bank account to participate, so Request to Pay may be useful in regions where credit cards are not widely used.12

National Rollouts

 

Countries that are rolling out Request to Pay systems include the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S., Request to Pay is a feature of The Clearing House RTP system, which was launched in late 2017. The availability to businesses depends on adoption by banks; one bank announced support for the service in late 2018.13 The U.K. plans to add Request to Pay to its national Faster Payments service in 2019, positioning the service as a new flexible way to settle bills between businesses as well as among friends.14 Some experts expect other Request to Pay systems to launch in Europe and other countries, facilitated by the spread of open banking and real-time payment systems.15

 

Obstacles to Adoption of Request to Pay

 

Despite the potential benefits, Request to Pay arrangements may have to overcome several obstacles in order to achieve wide adoption, experts say. Some businesses are concerned that cumbersome authentication requirements may be required for every transaction. Businesses will also need to integrate Request to Pay into their invoicing and approval workflows. Banks need to build support for Request to Pay into their systems. Most approaches are also only designed for domestic currencies, which has implications for multinational corporations that operate in several different currencies and have to support different systems. And countries with large unbanked populations are likely to derive less value from Request to Pay.16

 

The

Takeaway:

Emerging Request to Pay arrangements offer a new method for collecting payments from businesses and consumers in real time. Proponents say potential benefits include reduced costs and chargebacks, more detailed payment information, greater payment flexibility for contractors and SMEs, and the ability to facilitate negotiations between payer and payee.  

Mike Faden - The Author

The Author

Mike Faden  

Mike Faden has covered business and technology issues for more than 30 years as a writer, consultant and analyst for media brands, market-research firms, startups and established corporations. Mike also is a principal at Content Marketing Partners.

Sources

1. “Request to Pay: The Next Chapter in Collections Innovation,” Treasury Management International; https://www.treasury-management.com/article/1/397/3360/request-to-pay-the-next-chapter-in-collections-innovation.html
2. “Request to Pay,” U.K. Faster Payments; http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/industry-news/request-pay
3. The Request to Pay Revolution, Citibank; https://www.citibank.com/tts/sa/flippingbook/2017/The-Request-to-Pay-Revolution/files/assets/common/downloads/The%20Request%20to%20Pay%20Revolution.pdf
4. “Request to Pay,” U.K. Faster Payments; http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/industry-news/request-pay
5. The Request to Pay Revolution, Citibank; https://www.citibank.com/tts/sa/flippingbook/2017/The-Request-to-Pay-Revolution/files/assets/common/downloads/The%20Request%20to%20Pay%20Revolution.pdf
6. Ibid.
7. How do Real-Time Payments Work?, The Clearing House; https://www.theclearinghouse.org/~/media/tch/pay%20co/rtp/tch%20rtp%20business%20playbook%20excerpts%20on%20use%20cases%20version%20101%2003%2022%202016.pdf?la=en
8. “VocaLink Proposes New Payments System To Ease SME Cash Flow, Pymnts.com; https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2016/vocalink-request-to-pay-payments-system-sme/
9. Real-time payments, KPMG; https://www.aciworldwide.com/-/media/files/collateral/trends/kpmg-real-time-payments.pdf
10. “Request to Pay: The Next Chapter in Collections Innovation,” Treasury Management International; https://www.treasury-management.com/article/1/397/3360/request-to-pay-the-next-chapter-in-collections-innovation.html
11. “Request to Pay,” U.K. Faster Payments; http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/industry-news/request-pay
12. The Request to Pay Revolution, Citibank; https://www.citibank.com/tts/sa/flippingbook/2017/The-Request-to-Pay-Revolution/files/assets/common/downloads/The%20Request%20to%20Pay%20Revolution.pdf
13. “BNY Mellon First Bank to Offer Request for Payment Messaging Capabilities on The Clearing House's Real-Time Payments Network, BNY Mellon; https://www.bnymellon.com/us/en/newsroom/news/press-releases/bny-mellon-first-bank-to-offer-request-for-payment-messaging-capabilities-on-the-clearing-houses-real-time-payments-network-05-2.jsp
14. “Request to Pay,” U.K. Faster Payments; http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/industry-news/request-pay
15. The Request to Pay Revolution, Citibank; https://www.citibank.com/tts/sa/flippingbook/2017/The-Request-to-Pay-Revolution/files/assets/common/downloads/The%20Request%20to%20Pay%20Revolution.pdf
16. Ibid.

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