Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
Barclays launches £14 billion SME lending fund
Barclays has unveiled a £14.7 billion lending fund to help SMEs through the uncertainty of Brexit. The bank, which has held more than 100 ‘Brexit clinics’ for businesses in recent weeks, said the fund would provide loans, commercial mortgages and cash flow funding for investments. The Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney warned last month that half of UK firms are not ready for a no-deal Brexit, according to recent surveys. Barclays said the fund was to help businesses, at various stages of growth and development, deal with and capitalise on Brexit uncertainty.
Citigroup developing payments platform
Citigroup has said it is developing a consumer payments platform, in a move to enter the rapidly growing digital payments industry. Citi’s new service will offer merchants a range of consumer payment options to collect money, including from credit cards and e-wallets. This will expand its product portfolios within its mainstay B2B payment offerings. Citi’s move is the latest foray by a major US financial institution after fintech group Fidelity National Information Services Inc (FIS) agreed to buy payment processor Worldpay for $35 billion.
UK small businesses take brunt of cyberattacks
UK businesses suffered a large number of cyberattacks in 2018, but most attacks hit small businesses. Two-thirds of companies with 10-49 employees suffered some form of cyberattack in the past year, according to research by UK ISP Beaming. On average, a cyberattack cost £65,000, with most of the expense going towards salvaging damaged assets, paying financial penalties and bearing the brunt of business downtime. All in all, 130,000 businesses lost £13.6 billion in the last year alone due to cyberattacks. The research found that phishing is still the biggest threat (25 per cent of all cyberattacks), but ransomware was the most costly, with victims paying £21,000 on average.
eBay adds Google Pay
eBay is adding Google Pay to its suite of payment options as part of its move to intermediate end-to-end payments on its marketplace. With the integration, Google Pay users will be able to complete purchases on eBay via the app, mobile web and on desktop from sellers participating in eBay’s managed payments programme, while shoppers using the Google Pay digital wallet will be able to complete purchases on desktop. The move to accept Google Pay goes along with eBay’s new managed payments approach to payments after it decided to cut ties with long-standing partner and former subsidiary PayPal.
UK SMEs predict sales growth
A cross-sector cohort of UK SMEs predict an average 25 per cent sales increase for the next financial year, new industry research reveals. The research, conducted by SME working capital specialist Skipton Business Finance (SBF), collated the perspectives of almost 1,000 business leaders from SMEs across the UK. Over a third of SMEs (35 per cent) said they plan to hire more staff while a further 44 per cent said they ‘possibly’ would.
Amazon Pay to integrate Worldpay
Amazon has struck a deal with Worldpay for the latter to become its first acquirer. This means that Worldpay – one of the more ubiquitous providers of payment technologies, processing 40 billion transactions worth some $1.7 trillion annually through more than 300 payment options and 120 currencies – will now be offering Amazon Pay so that any merchant can offer this as a payment and shipping option to its customers. This could also allow Amazon to layer on further services for merchants, such as its popular Amazon Prime subscription scheme for free shipping.
Square SME invoices app comes to UK
Global payments provider Square has announced the UK launch of Square Invoices app, providing sellers a self-serve tool for creating, managing and sending invoices from anywhere. From sending quotes and requesting deposits, to issuing recurring invoices and automated reminders, the Square Invoices app adds extra functionality to help small businesses get paid quickly. Recent research carried out on behalf of Square in the UK showed cash flow to be the second-biggest overall concern for UK small business owners, affecting 41 per cent of businesses.
Payments processor Marqeta to raise $250 million
Marqeta, a payment processing company that works in the area of powering payment cards on behalf of other brands along with related financial services, is reportedly in the process of raising $250 million on a valuation of $1.9 billion. Previous investors in the California-based company include Granite Ventures (which is its largest shareholder), Iconiq, Goldman Sachs and Visa (which led its most recent previous round, a Series D of $25 million). Marqeta previously raised $116 million.
Japanese online giants partner on mobile payments
Line Corp and Mercari are joining forces on mobile payments as Japan’s internet companies race to dominate cashless transactions in the world’s third-largest economy. The operator of Japan’s most popular messaging platform and the used-goods online marketplace app will let users shop and pay for purchases at stores that accept each other’s systems starting early this summer. They have also launched an alliance to welcome other mobile payment providers.