June 16, 2003

MasterCard has added purchasing card payment options into the electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP) system of Velosant, a First Data affiliate, to create a B2B payment solution for its member banks.

With the aim of increasing usage of purchasing cards, MasterCard approached the electronic invoicing conundrum from the standpoint of the buyer rather than the seller of a transaction. The search led to Velosant. "We spent a fair amount of time doing technical and financial due diligence on a number of EIPP companies," said Philip J. Philliou, vice president, e-business and emerging technologies, MasterCard International, Purchase, N.Y. "They had an EIPP system that was a buyer-centric model as opposed to being basically just a merchant's billing system."

Accordingly, transactions begin from the buyer's enterprise resource planning system, which can transmit a purchase order through the MasterCard system to any enrolled merchant. In turn, the merchant can flip the purchase order into an invoice. "The invoice has to meet buyer-defined rules in order to be accepted for processing," said Philliou. "The invoice will get kicked back automatically if it doesn't meet those buyer-defined rules."

But the merchant has to be enrolled in the vendor system of one of MasterCard's EIPP partners: Velosant or Pleasanton, Calif.-based Xign. Payment options include MasterCard's RPPS, an ACH-like system, or as a credit card payment under existing interchange agreements. "It's usually the buyer who determines how they want to pay, not the merchant," said Philliou. "If the buyer says, 'I want to pay by purchasing card,' he's usually more influential than the merchant."

From the perspective of member banks, the MasterCard solution offers growth potential. "This will open up new purchasing card categories - larger-ticket transactions - because we provide 'Level 3' data with every single transaction and increased management controls," said Philliou. "For member banks which issue MasterCard purchasing cards, it's going to represent tremendous growth potential."