Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
Improvements for electronic payments in Europe
Electronic payments in Europe are set to become safer, cheaper and easier, according to the European Commission’s latest guidelines. European citizens can now make payments across Europe – including in the EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein – as easily and safely as in their home country, under the rules covering all forms of e-payments, including credit transfers, direct debits and card payments. Among other improvements in the pipeline: merchants will no longer be able to impose extra charges for payments with cards issued in the EU, a single euro account will allow consumers to make all payments across Europe and cross-border payments in euros will cost the same as domestic payments in euros.
Late payments see £50 billion outstanding for UK SMEs
UK SMEs are chasing a combined £50 billion in late payments, according to new research from digital banking platform Tide. The Tide study also finds the average UK SME is chasing five outstanding invoices at once, wasting an hour-and-a-half every day. In total, this means that almost 900,000 hours a day are wasted by companies trying to get paid for the work they have done. The average amount owed per invoice is £8,500. London-based businesses are the hardest hit, with companies in the capital claiming to have an average of seven invoices outstanding. Those who are self-employed have an average of four outstanding invoices at any one time, amounting to almost £1,000.
US mobile operator Sprint aims to deliver the ‘Internet of Payments’
Digital commerce provider Wirecard and mobile network operator Sprint have announced plans to integrate Wirecard’s unified commerce solutions into Sprint’s Curiosity Internet of Things (IoT) platform to deliver the ‘Internet of Payments’. The collaboration will see Wirecard’s payment capabilities embedded into IoT deployments. Sprint and Wirecard will initially focus on the retail sector, to define and deliver the retail experience of the future across all channels. Sprint’s Curiosity IoT platform is a new standard for how enterprises manage and secure IoT devices and connectivity. Via the platform, the Curiosity Core – a dedicated, distributed and virtualised IoT network – is combined with Curiosity OS, an integrated IoT operating system.
China’s Tencent and UnionPay to merge QR code systems for mobile payments
Chinese online giant Tencent and banking card industry association China UnionPay have reportedly agreed to integrate their QR code systems, allowing their respective customers to transfer or spend money using the same smartphone symbols. The tie-up may help UnionPay – a network set up by top lenders, from Bank of China to Industrial & Commercial Bank of China – carve out a bigger slice of a market long dominated by Tencent and Alipay, the digital wallet owned and operated by Ant Financial. Under the agreement, customers using UnionPay’s Quickpass or WeChat Pay – the de facto payment service on Tencent’s ubiquitous messaging platform of the same name – will scan the same QR code from merchants.
Majority of SME owners want to improve environmental credentials
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of SME owners want to improve their environmental sustainability, with economic savings being the main motivation for doing so, according to a survey conducted by Lloyds Bank. With the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy being more essential than ever, Lloyds Bank has revealed that 44 per cent of business owners believe that becoming more environmentally sustainable is important for the future of their business. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of businesses said they have already taken steps to make their buildings more energy-efficient and 63 per cent said they have taken steps to becoming more sustainable.
Ant Financial bids to become digital bank in Singapore
Ant Financial, China’s largest online financial platform, has applied for a digital banking licence in Singapore, as the company ramps up efforts to expand outside mainland China. Ant submitted an application to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a wholesale licence, which would allow it to serve corporate clients. The MAS is offering as many as five digital banking permits to non-banks in a bid to open up the financial industry to new competitors. Winning a license would pit Ant against traditional incumbents such as DBS and OCBC in the growing market for digital banking in Southeast Asia.