Over the last ten years, Billtrust has been very successful in helping companies roll out what the industry calls "biller direct" electronic billing sites. If you go directly to one of our customer's web sites, there will usually be a link to eBilling, which is powered by Billtrust. It looks like the biller's web site, but it's managed and hosted by us.
This strategy has served us and our customers very well. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses in North America and most need help navigating the world of eBilling.
Our success in building all of these eBilling sites has created a problem. In one industry that we serve, wholesale distribution, we have hundreds of these "biller direct" eBilling sites. The small businesses that go to these sites, are with increasing frequency going to multiple "biller direct" sites. This is not an optimal experience (i.e. it sucks). The small biz has to go to multiple sites, multiple passwords, enter payment information multiple times, etc. It's not pretty.
Fortunately, the industry has a solution for this problem, and it's called the "consolidator" site. A "consolidator" site is a third-party site, like a bank or portal, where a customer can sign up to receive and pay bills from multiple vendors. Most experts agree that the "consolidator" solution is more desirable for the bill recipient than the "biller direct" solution because of simplicity and ease of use. However, the real world doesn't always listen to experts and the market continues to be split.
The big problem with "consolidator" sites is content. Content, in this world, are bills. Getting lots of billers to agree on a standard to distribute bills and accept payments through third party sites has been impossible in the United States. There's just too many competing agendas.
And it's not like people aren't trying. CheckFree/Fiserv, FIS/Metavante, and iPay/Jack Henry have been powering bank consolidator sites for many years. Recent entries to the consolidator space include Manilla, Zumbox, Doxo, and Volly. In fact, I co-founded a company called Paytrust 13 years ago to try and solve this problem for consumers.
What all of these vendors have in common, is a focus on billing to consumers, or B2C billing. And there's been no one focused on billing to businesses, or B2B billing. Until now.
Billtrust has been working stealthily for the last year on building the world's first Business Invoice Network and we're calling it Invoice Central. Invoice Central is a consolidator site that is focused on the needs of businesses. B2B billing is not as sexy as consumer billing, but it's much larger from a dollars perspective and far more complex. The average small business receives 50 bills a month compared to a consumer who receives an average of 12.
We're also in the enviable position of being one of the largest B2B billing service providers on the planet so we've got lots of content. Approximately 75 billers have signed up as "charter" members and we expect many more to join.
We're not sure if we've hit the mark perfectly with the launch of Invoice Central. But there is a big need in the B2B space and we're confident we will figure it out.
PS - In a nod to my inner geekness, YACS stands for....any guesses?