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Buy Now Pay Later for B2B

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Sometimes a modifier can make a big difference when we describe something.

Here are a couple of simple examples: a big cat is a type of cat. And a hot air balloon is a type of balloon. Each resembles its respective category on a fundamental level… but is ultimately very different.

The same can be said of business-to-business (B2B) buy now pay later (BNPL).

It sounds the same as the solution that has become popular with consumers, but for businesses.

But B2B and B2C are different in many ways. So it’s worth asking: Is B2B BNPL just another form of BNPL or is it something unique?

Let’s answer this question and learn more about B2B BNPL along the way.

What is buy now pay later?

Buy now pay later (BNPL) is a type of payment plan that allows buyers to pay for purchases in installments over time.

In the consumer market, it has exploded in popularity in recent years. Research by Finder found that there were 360 million consumers using BNPL in 2022. And Juniper estimates that this figure will reach 900 million by 2027.

Before we look more closely at BNPL for business, let’s briefly look at B2C BNPL for more context.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) BNPL

Most people are familiar with BNPL in its business-to-consumer (B2C) form. It’s the service that brands offer so retail shoppers to spread the cost of their shopping.

For example, a customer that wants to buy a suit that costs $700 could use buy now pay later to make payments of $100 every week until it’s paid off.

BNPL has become very popular as it often features interest-free periods and no deposit requirements. This makes it easier for users to access products that might otherwise have been too expensive to purchase on the spot.

For many consumers, this is very useful. However, there is some controversy around it, too. Critics claim that it can encourage irresponsible spending and lead some users into debt.

Regulation has appeared in some countries to counter bad practices in the BNPL industry, such as excessive rates and misleading advertising.

Business-to-Business (B2B) BNPL

Business-to-business (B2B) BNPL is BNPL tailored for companies working in the B2B space.

For example, a small business that supplies retailers might want to purchase $5,000 worth of goods from a wholesalers. Using BNPL, they can pay off their purchase over 6 months.

As with consumers, this leaves businesses with better cash flow than if they had paid straight away to buy everything upfront. This cash flow can then be used in other areas of the business.

Advantages of B2B BNPL

B2B businesses using BNPL can not only increase their cash flow but can also increase their cashflow flexibility.

This means that cash flow can be increased quickly and efficiently at short notice.

It’s particularly useful when – for example – a company wants to take advantage of a discount. They can get the discounted rate that wouldn’t have still been available had they deferred the purchase.

B2B BNPL is also more accessible than many other types of loans and financing. Unlike a traditional business loan, there are less credit checks and a faster onboarding experience.

BNPL companies (i.e., companies offering BNPL services) also tend to be alternative lenders, not traditional banks.

It’s common practice for them to both have industry expertise and be tech-savvy. This brings value-added services like POS integration and other embedded financing solutions.

B2B BNPL also offers a solution to smaller and newer companies that otherwise might not be eligible for traditional business loans.

It enables them to try a type of financing that is a simple and short-term commitment, rather than risking being saddled with larger long-term debt.

Is B2B BNPL the same as trade credit?

B2B BNPL is a type of trade credit. However, trade credit also covers scenarios different to typical BNPL plans.

The term BNPL carries with it certain implications of point of sale (POS) accessibility and pre-determined payment installment options.

Trade credit, by contrast, can require a more lengthy approval process, credit value decisions, and setting payment terms unique to a particular business.


There are important differences between B2B and B2C BNPL.

But before we look at these, let’s look at the fundamental similarities between the two types of BNPL.

B2B & B2C BNPL similarities

Bullet points of B2B BNPL vs B2C BNPL similarities: customers and technology fundamentals
B2B BNPL vs B2C BNPL similarities

1. Customers

The B2B and B2C buying processes are different, but the buyers are the same.

In simple terms, B2B buyers are also consumers. So, they already understand and trust BNPL as a convenient, secure and simple way to pay.

And they have gotten used to a seamless user experience with multiple payment options.

2. Technology fundamentals

The payment technology behind BNPL is more or less the same regardless of the commercial context it is used in. The same basic elements need to be integrated in order to enable and underwrite purchases without money being put down upfront.

A variety of technologies are used such as point-of-sale (POS) systems, mobile applications, automatic clearing house (ACH) processing, and online payment gateways.

B2B & B2C BNPL differences

Bullet points of B2B BNPL vs B2C BNPL differences: purpose, process, decision making, payment methods, payment terms
B2B BNPL vs B2C BNPL differences

1. Purpose

Business buyers make decisions in very different contexts from regular B2C customers.

In the business world, purchases are often necessities or investment-like decisions. Each payment is a means to an end or something made with the goal of gaining a financial return.

But for the typical B2C consumer, a purchase is often made for its own sake. For example, a survey by Forbes found that 2 in 5 Generation Z BNPL users used it to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

2. Process

B2C BNPL businesses handle high volumes of small transactions. As a result, the risk involved is relatively low.

The typical B2B BNPL provider, on the other hand, has to deal with smaller volumes of larger and more complex transactions.

Credit checks for underwriting buyers are often quick but need to consider more factors, such as sales data, longer payment terms, and more.

They also need to integrate with the wider order-to-cash process. This means being in sync with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, accounting, and invoicing solutions, which are a big part of the B2B process.


Collections are a big part of the business world. Falling behind with this important process can negatively affect businesses’ cash flow, which in turn can have a knock-on effect on other operations.

Some B2B financing solutions, such as invoice factoring, come with collections services.

B2C collections are usually more straightforward. Their late payment fees can actually benefit the BNPL company. Smaller average order values mean individual late B2C payments don’t negatively affect cash flow at the level they do for B2B companies.

B2B buyers pay transaction fees

The long net terms involved in B2B payments mean that BNPL providers often charge buyers BNPL transaction fees for using the service.

In B2C, however, it’s usually sellers who pay these fees. In return, they benefit from the resulting increased frequency and volume of sales.

2. Decision making

B2B purchases usually involve an average of 6 – 10 decision-makers. These decision-makers might not all have the same motivations or goals.

For the B2B BNPL provider, there may have some practical consequences. For example, their sales team may have to have more interactions with customers.

2. Payment methods

B2B payments are unique. They often involve relatively slow lead times and a wide range of preferred payment methods and terms.

These differences are partly explained by the relatively high average order value, which makes them riskier.

In general, many consider B2B payments to be approximately 5 years behind their consumer counterpart. For example, Pymnts report that 40% of all B2B payments are still made by paper check.

However, slow progress doesn’t entirely explain the difference. Internal approval processes and high-value payments play a role, too.

Paying online

There are signs that other payment methods are increasing in popularity, especially payment options compatible with online sales.

2020 report by McKinsey found that:

70 percent of B2B decision makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27 percent would spend more than $500,000.

3. Payment terms

The basic concept of paying for something at a later date has existed in business for a long time. Net 30, 60 or even 90 terms are the norm in many B2B sectors.

So, spacing out B2B BNPL terms over relatively long time frames is nothing new. In B2C BNPL, this concept isn’t necessary (though it does exist for other consumer financings options, such as car re-payments and mortgages).

B2B financing

BNPL is not the only B2B payment method to offer a deferred payment option. B2B financing (of which BNPL is one type) is a rich and varied field.

It includes traditional business loans, venture debt, equity financing, trade credit, invoice finance (invoice financing and invoice factoring), and more.

TreviPay: B2B BNPL provider

At TreviPay, we have a deep understanding of the unique nature of B2B transactions and the factors and potential sources of friction they carry.

Over the decades, we have repeatedly found new ways to innovate with online payments-processing, trade credit systems and solutions in the B2B space. And we continue to do so today.

Our innovations in B2B payments can drive real growth, enabling you to offer your B2B clients trade credit (including BNPL) and other financing solutions.


In recent years, buy now pay later solutions have become very popular with consumers. Even with higher levels of regulation, this growth looks set to continue.

So perhaps it is no surprise that the B2B buyers have also begun to use it, too.

But despite sharing the same name and the same customers, B2B and B2C BNPL are quite different solutions.

It all comes down to context, in particular the unique aspects of B2B transactions, including scale, value, payment methods, and payment terms.

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