January 12, 2016
In December 2015, Bank of America announced a relationship with Viewpost, creator of a secure business-to-business network that provides electronic invoicing and payments tools for businesses of all sizes. With this relationship, Bank of America will bring Viewpost’s unique, collaborative, time-saving technology to their small-business clients across the country.
Starting December 10, Bank of America channels, including the website, online banking, ATMs, were promoting the new Viewpost service to their small-business customers as an electronic invoicing, payments and cash flow management tool that the bank recommends for increasing efficiency and lowering the cost of doing business.
Promotion is the first phase in the partnership between Bank of America and Viewpost. The second phase is set for late 2016 and will allow for seamless enrollment and data integration, enhancing the experience for customers both within Viewpost and BankofAmerica.com.
The LTP team had the pleasure of interviewing Will Barr, Small-Business Deposits Executive at Bank of America and Max Eliscu, Founder & CEO of Viewpost. Barr and Eliscu shared their insights on the new partnership and milestones for the companies.
Both Bank of America and Viewpost are excited about the partnership, and we started the conversation with the expectations Bank of America had relative to full integration in 2016. As Barr shared, the BofA team is thrilled to have a relationship with Viewpost and excited about their solution. Moreover, the bank receives great customer feedback.
In order to understand the advantages this collaboration brings to the bank's clients, Barr explained the pain Viewpost is solving, saying, Cash flow management is usually a problem area for small businesses. We hear our customers telling us that they want help to better understand when they’ll be paid, as well as help coordinating when and how to pay their bills. Our partnership with Viewpost is a response to that consistent request.
Our purpose as a company is to make the financial lives of our clients better. Our partnership with Viewpost brings world-class capabilities to our customers in regards to payments, invoicing and managing cash flows. Making the partnership even more rewarding is that we advised Viewpost on its vision, capabilities and the needs of our customers from its very early days, and their team has listened and executed.
Elaborating further on the reasons Bank of America chose Viewpost to help them serve small businesses, Barr mentioned several reasons why Viewpost‘s solution is outstanding. As Barr shared, Their solution provides the capabilities our three million small business customers tell us they need to manage their businesses. It's modern, it's intuitive and it’s got a flexible architecture. We believe it complements our digital experience and integrates very easily into our banking platform. In addition, we believe Viewpost’s network strategy offers benefits across and between companies of all sizes, regardless of where they happen to bank. Enhancing the opportunity is that both Viewpost, and its sister company, LSQ Funding Group, are both clients of the bank, and we already work with and leverage one another. Our ability to collaborate is tremendous, and so is the opportunity for Bank of America and our clients."
We are also excited about the integrations that Viewpost has built with QuickBooks, and the additional capabilities coming in the near future. One of the great things about Viewpost is that it doesn’t require companies to change the way they operate, rather, it enables them to leverage their existing tools to accomplish their business goals more seamlessly. Key to that vision is their growing list of accounting integrations, and soon, commercialized APIs, Barr added.
Moving further into understanding the core problem Viewpost solves for the bank’s small-business clients, Barr explained, Customers tell us that managing their cash flow is critical to their business. The number one obstacle they face in that regard is getting paid on time. Viewpost not only provides them visibility into when they are going to be paid, it can also help them get paid on demand.
With FinTech companies like Viewpost providing superior solution alternatives to traditional financial industry players, a legitimate question arises: if FinTech startups can now almost completely unbundle banks, what’s keeping bank customers from going away?
Barr had an answer for that, saying, We have been told by our clients across the country that they need expertise. They need help and guidance from knowledgeable associates who have a unique understanding of their business needs. Over the past couple (of) years, we hired over a thousand small-business bankers. We believe that offering a personal connection and expertise is going to really drive our relationship and success with our small-business customers. That’s where we are focused—bringing expertise and knowledge.
When the client says to our experts in the field that he faces a certain challenge or issue, then we think that our job as a product team is to have the solutions available for that expert to bring into the conversation. In some cases, we will have those solutions developed ourselves, and in some cases, we are going to partner with people to do that. We are delivering a national network with neighborhood knowledge.
Barr also shared with LTP some of the plans his team has in the works, saying, In my area, we focus on deposit products, checking/savings accounts, debit, etc. We have a relationship with Intuit and ABP, and we are also thinking about payroll and accounting software. The areas we continue to grow and invest are in the mobile space—particularly, in ways to improve our customers’ ability to access financial products, services and advice on demand, and on their timeline.
We also had an opportunity to speak with Max Eliscu, Founder & CEO of Viewpost, who is similarly excited about the partnership. Emphasizing the relevance of the solution for the bank and its customers, Eliscu shared, Bank of America has millions of active small-business online banking customers. More than two-thirds log into online banking on a regular basis to manage their accounts. However, many of these customers have yet to migrate to electronic payments, sending and receiving hundreds of millions of paper checks each year. Checks are expensive to send, inconvenient to carry and frustrating to receive and deposit. The ability to open an app on a phone, send an invoice and get paid on demand is a remarkable motivator from small businesses to utilize Viewpost and move into a fully electronic world.
Eliscu also shared his insights on the reasons banks have chosen to partner with a FinTech company like Viewpost, and more importantly to not white label the solution, The biggest challenge in solving for electronic transactions is connectivity. Trading partners must be willing and able to connect with one another online. There can be no barriers. And since no bank has more than 35% market share, even in their top market, the majority of their customers’ trading partners bank elsewhere. Historically, banks have created or purchased branded solutions to solve for invoicing and payment friction. The effectiveness of these solutions was dependent on scale, and scale never occurred because the loyalty of bank customers built barriers to adopting another bank’s solution. Each bank fought for the same customer, and as a result, everyone lost. The opportunity never unfolded. These solutions were also hampered by the fact that they generally targeted the needs of a single audience, the large corporate payables departments. And yet, invoicing and payments are a horizontal. They touch everyone; they touch businesses of all sizes (and) using all accounting platforms. We solved this problem by providing a solution that works across and between small businesses and large, regardless of where they bank, regardless of their department (payables or receivables), or their accounting platform.
Viewpost is a medium between companies that do business together but are clients of different banks. It is agnostic and serves as a connector across company sizes, financial service providers and accounting platforms.
Aside from Bank of America, Viewpost also has relationships with U.S. Bank and Fifth Third Bank, each in various phases of technical integration. More partnership announcements are expected in the beginning of this year.
Commenting on the plans Viewpost has for the future, Eliscu added, We are very much moving towards an API-first capability over the course of 2016. We believe in the power of API’s to drive scale and accelerate the pace with which Viewpost is able to support the needs of the global business community.
Our objective is to connect businesses, people and financial institutions to information and unlock opportunities never before available, opening the door to creating incremental products and services, rating systems, and behavioral metrics that can be utilized to more effectively deliver complementary and differentiated products and services.