Consumer obligations are by no means a solved problem (I’ll activate one hundred blockchain individuals if I say otherwise), but it sure as heck is a fairly improved one. Checkout is a breeze using modern tools Which Range from Stripe and PayPal to Fast and Rapid to Apple and Google Play.
Should you just happen to need financing, on-the-spot financing platforms such as Affirm, which recently debuted on NASDAQ and is currently valued at $26 billion, will expand that financing nearly instantly.
Then you head over to B2B payments… and you recoil in horror as you migrate away from a utopian future of promise to the ruins of an antiquated past. A mash-mash of payment systems from paper checks to cable transfers get delivered against invoices, none of which are mechanically dispersed across financial information systems. Funding is complicated and offered by a bank through — gasp — a real phone call. Shudder, because there likely involves a fax machine someplace in this loop.
Balance is looking to update all of it, as quickly as possible.
Balance provides efficient B2B payments that allow retailers to offer many different payment methods including ACH and bank wires in addition to a number of payment terms such as payment on delivery, net payment provisions, and payment by milestone.
Behind the scenes, Balance underwrites the terms of those transactions requiring funding by evaluating the possibility of the consumer, the merchant, and the particular payment terms selected. Balance is built on top of Stripe and offers all Stripe’s charge card payment options, but then extends far beyond them.
Take, for example, your typical SaaS offering. Typically, employees will purchase individual chair licenses to the software using their company cards (managed maybe with Brex), a payment facilitated through Stripe or PayPal.
As a provider spends increasingly more about that particular software, one of the two parties will reach out and negotiate a comprehensive enterprise rate for payment. It’s here that Balance becomes key. That full payment could be performed on Balance, with net 30 payment terms with a bank wire all synced against an invoice given by the service to the client.
B2B obligations is a huge market measured in the tens of trillions worldwide, which is perhaps 1 reason why Balance has an all-star fintech investment syndicate supporting its seed round. It raised $5.5 million from Tal Morgenstern of Lightspeed, Stripe, and Nellie Levchin through SciFi VC.
Lightspeed formerly endorsed Affirm, which was founded by Nellie Levchin’s husband, Max Levchin. The balance was part of this summer 2020 batch of Y Combinator, although diminished to look in a demo day and remained in stealth as its seed round had been locked in. UpWest, which invests in Israeli firms heading to the U.S. market, also invested.
The balance was set by Bar Geron and Yoni Shuster in late 2019 to ancient 2020 and arrived through their expertise working at PayPal together. “PayPal is a key part of the story,” Geron said, describing how the duo learned about the consumer payments world. Shuster remained on in PayPal, while Geron headed to Behalf, a firm that also operates on B2B financing and cash flow administration.
Geron said that Behalf was a”pain point solution” to the challenge of offering internet payment provisions, but that the company did not try to digitize the most analog version of obligations. Geron saw a chance and connected up with Shuster to take a more expansive approach to the problem.
Our fantasy is to”make B2B payments as easy as card payments,” Geron said. “What we wanted to do would be to make it as simple as Stripe… have a snippet of code and just put it on your website.” With that in place, Balance’s other features like bill financing and syncing become instant features.
During Y Combinator, the team learned that other tech companies constantly confronted these problems, and they would function as useful first clients. The critical customers though in Geron’s head are B2B marketplaces in which there are few options to synchronize the complexities of marketplace trades. Geron claims that”we have several clients in that space.” Another key customer section is service providers that operate on milestone-based payments, such as 20% upfront and 80% on delivery. “We automated [all that] and put it on the internet,” he explained.
Balance earns money on what is known as a”factoring fee” in which it pays the merchant ahead of the payment by the customer. Geron noted it’s 2%, although the actual rate fluctuates depending on the danger involved.
The two founders are based in Israel, although like most startups these days, they have a distributed workforce.