Apple Pay and eCommerce

New device payment technology is on the verge of changing eCommerce, eProcurement, and corporate spending forever

Imagine living in a world that no longer needs the company credit card.

Purchases on your smartphoneYou’re at some industry-specific conference looking at piece after piece of novelty software or tech that would be nice to have, but isn’t worth the six figure annual cost, when you come across an actual game changer. It fits a business need of yours perfectly, and it doesn’t have a price tag normally reserved for large buildings. You take out your smartphone, and you buy it…on the company account.

Your purchase is tracked by your device ID, the receipt is immediately emailed to finance, and the shiny new piece of tech is on its way to your office before your cab (paid for by the company using your phone) gets you back to your hotel room (also paid for by the company via your phone).

At dinner that night (paid for by…you see where this is going) you get an email that the availability of a business-critical item is drying up, the company needs to act fast to secure uninterrupted supply, and you’re the only one with the purchasing authority available. Once again, you make the purchase on your phone using the company account.

This scenario is approaching faster than you might think.

Company cardThe New Company Card

In our imagined world, you can use your phone to pay nearly anywhere and for anything Device IDs and user accounts provide identification and accountability without everyone (or anyone) in the company having a company credit card. Spending limits can be set and changed by finance with zero delay, receipts can be automatically filed, expenditures can be tracked in real time, passwords can be required before payment, and certain transactions can even require approval, also in real time. Fraud, budget abuse, embezzlement, and theft are all easier to spot, track, and react to. Each person in the company can have an account that can be enabled as needed. Losses averted, time saved, spending tracked, and paperwork reduced.

Every single one of these features currently exists. Some are found together in consumer channels, some are found in corporate bank accounts, and some are confined to specific eCommerce accounts or eProcurement systems. With companies like Google, Apple, PayPal and others unifying eCommerce payment systems with the real world via smartphones, it’s only a matter of time before payment unification brings the same advantages to business expenses and procurement.

B2B and B2C eCommerce: A Changing World

ApplePay is changing the industryThe biggest challenge is adoption. In last week’s new product launch, Apple announced new strategic partnerships that will help bring payment unification to an unprecedented number of stores and services. Expect a renewed effort from Google on the same front, and widespread adoption coming soon after. Traditionally, adoption of new tech in B2C commerce has been a costly decision, especially if the trend doesn’t catch on. The B2C space does, however, have rather fast adoption once trends reach their “tipping point,” a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his appropriately named book The Tipping Point.

Interestingly enough, the same observations can be reversed when applied to B2B commerce, especially in regards to eCommerce. The relative cost of implementing eCommerce improvements is often a small fraction of even the most conservative gains. However, even the adoption of eCommerce in its most basic form is still rare among B2B Companies. An Oracle study of B2B businesses found that only 25% even had an eCommerce website. Even with such low adoption, Oracle found that the B2B eCommerce market ($559 billion) was more than twice the size of B2C eCommerce ($250 billion).

As technology continues to widen the gap between companies that embrace eCommerce and those who don’t, will Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and the resulting payment unification add to the gap, or will it force companies to catch up?

Enterprise eCommerce

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