Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
Asian consumers flock to e-payments
E-payments are becoming the preferred method of payment for Asian consumers, according to data and analytics firm GlobalData. The consumer demand for convenience is reshaping the retail sector, with retailers working to offer a seamless shopping experience with the latest technologies such as self-service checkout systems and contactless payment. The Asia-Pacific region is leading the way in terms of the uptake of e-payments for everyday purchases and it is well on the way to becoming a cashless society. GlobalData’s Q3 global consumer survey found that 25 per cent of Chinese consumers find stores that support advanced payment methods such as Apple Pay are the most convenient for their grocery shopping.
Small businesses unprepared for no-deal Brexit
Only 14 per cent of small businesses have starting to plan for a no-deal Brexit, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The research found a further 41 per cent believe that a no-deal Brexit will have an impact on their business but haven’t yet started planning for the possibility. Just 10 per cent believe a no-deal outcome will have a positive impact on their ability to do business, with 48 per cent believing it would have a negative effect. The latter figure rises sharply to 66 per cent for small firms that trade with the EU and 61 per cent for those employing a staff member from the EU.
Worldline to run payments hackathon in Paris
European payment and transaction services provider Worldline is organising the ‘e-Payments Challenge’, a hackathon event offering fintech companies the opportunity to co-innovate with leaders in their industries to create new e-payments solutions using Worldline’s APIs. The 48-hour event will take place in Paris from September 26 to 28 and will combine the creativity of fintechs with the technological expertise of Worldline and its customers and partners, which include AccorHotels. There will be eight challenges for participants, which are detailed on the event website.
Small businesses run by women more likely to find success
Insolvency rates for SMEs run by men are 70 per cent higher than female-run small businesses, according to research by insolvency practitioner KSA Group. Male-dominated businesses have a 0.34 per cent insolvency rate compared with 0.20 per cent for companies run by women. Only 13 per cent of SMEs in Britain are led by women, although this is nearly double the figure for FTSE 100 companies, where only seven per cent of CEOs are women.
SME payments app offered by PwC
A new mobile app to help SMEs avoid late payment issues has been launched by PwC in collaboration with Edinburgh tech firm Bemo. My Returns Reminder is available for free and notifies firms in advance of HMRC payment deadlines, including PAYE, corporation tax, confirmation statements, annual accounts and VAT payments. The launch is part of PwC’s expansion into the provision of digital services for private businesses and follows Bemo’s participation in the accountancy firm’s SCALE programme. SCALE is aimed at bridging the gap between large-scale businesses seeking innovative technology and smaller firms looking to scale up.
North East SME centre of excellence launched
A prominent North East businessman has established an SME hub to support entrepreneurs across the region in their start-up and expansion plans. Ammar Mirza, CBE, has set up the SME Centre of Excellence to offer practical support in areas such as accountancy, legal, HR, websites and digital marketing. The ‘one-stop shop’ also provides hot-desking and virtual office space, workshops and advice surgeries. Mirza said he hopes the centre will “inspire the creation and growth of many more ambitious and successful ventures”.
Amazon launches Storefront for small businesses
Amazon has launched Storefront, a new portal through which nearly 20,000 US small and medium-sized businesses can sell their products. As well as buying products, customers can also learn more about profiled businesses through featured videos and stories. The Storefront has a range of product categories, such as Back to School, Halloween, Home, Pet Supplies, Kitchen and Books. To support the launch of the new store, Amazon is running a national TV commercial featuring real businesses that sell on its site. Half of the items sold on Amazon are from small and medium-sized businesses.
HSBC unveils largest-ever small-business lending fund
HSBC’s 2018 lending fund for small businesses has reached a record £12 billion – £2 billion more than in 2017 – meaning a total of £46 billion has been lent under the initiative since 2014. The banking group has also ring-fenced £1 billion to help boost overseas trade as Brexit approaches. HSBC said the decision to include a new allocation for UK firms to grow their business overseas comes after its own research showed that 72 per cent of British businesses expect their cross-border trade to increase this year.
Unified e-payment system to be offered to food vendors in Singapore
Payments services company Nets has been appointed to run a unified e-payment system for small food businesses in Singapore. The system will be offered at canteens, coffee shops and hawker centres (open-air complexes containing cooked-food stalls) – locations where cash still dominates. The system will cover 12,000 individual stalls, bringing together a fragmented e-payments landscape in Singapore and helping with the drive to make the country a cashless society. Nets will also reconcile accounts and accommodate the entire range of payment schemes on its master network, addressing most of the obstacles cited by hawkers in switching to cashless payments.
Small-business owners putting their health at risk
New research suggests small-business owners are jeopardising their mental and physical health through stress and working long hours. Of the entrepreneurs surveyed by accounting specialist FreeAgent, 73 per cent believe their health has suffered since they launched their business, with 38 per cent saying both their mental and physical health had suffered. Reasons include the stress of taking responsibility for the business (including the livelihoods of other people), financial worries and a lack of support. The research also found that 38 per cent of entrepreneurs routinely work more than 48 hours a week, with seven per cent saying they usually work more than 64 hours.