Banks report commercial payments decline amid Covid-19

by Manpreet Singh

Created: May 4th 2020

As the covid-19 pandemic spreads, commercial payments volumes have declined across the globe due to businesses shutting down under the impact of lockdowns. In their Q1 results, Citigroup, JP Morgan and US Bankcorp have reported the impact on their B2B payments segment, cross-border payments and commercial cards revenue.

Citigroup’s CFO Mark Mason in an investors earnings call said that the company saw a dip of 60% in Travel and Expense revenue and 19% revenue reduction in its B2B commercial card activity in the month of March. This has been consistent across the Industry with American Express in March also warning about the dip in revenue related to business travel revenue and cross-border transactions.

Another large U.S bank, US Bancorp also disclosed in its earnings call that the bank is facing a decline of 30% to 40% in its corporate payments business due to the worldwide shutdown and slow business spend activity.

“Our fee businesses were affected to varying degrees. Our payments businesses were negatively impacted by a sharp decline in both consumer and commercial spend activity, in line with the drop in global economic activity in March.” said Andy Cecere, Chairman, President and CEO of U.S Bancorp during Q1 2020 earnings call.

The Merchant Services Business of J.P Morgan showed a significant decline in merchant processing activity. Merchant Services business which is now the part of Wholesale payments saw a decline of 4% YoY to $1.4 billion.

“As clients focused on preserving liquidity, we experienced higher deposit levels in wholesale payments throughout the quarter, offsetting revenue headwinds from lower rates and payments activity” Jennifer Piepszak, CFO of JP Morgan, said on a Q1 earnings call.