Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
Government keen to increase spend with smaller businesses
The government wants to make it easier for SMEs to do business with it, both through direct and indirect contracts, said Crown Representative for SMEs, Emma Jones. According to Jones, the government is on track to meet its goal of spending one in every three pounds with small businesses by 2022. Jones said that when she came into the role in 2016, she wanted to achieve three things: simplification, promote that the government is open for business, and determine how the government best buys innovation.
RBS launches digital bank for SMEs
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has become the first of the UK’s big high street lenders to open a standalone digital bank. Mettle is new business-focused current account will be run independently of its traditional brands. Designed for small business customers, it will provide a current account alongside services such as invoicing and cash flow forecasting. Alison Rose, RBS head of commercial and private banking, said Mettle is aimed at giving customers a choice about how to bank given the changes in behaviour and priorities new technologies are bringing to many small businesses. The new platform allows new products to be quickly developed and deployed in response to customer demand.
New mentoring programme for Manchester SMEs
SME leaders from across Greater Manchester are being paired with some of the UK's biggest companies as part of a new mentoring scheme. Following a successful pilot phase Mentoring for Growth is now expanding nationally and a new cohort of local businesses are being invited to join the scheme. Some of the UK’s most successful businesses have already signed up as mentors, including Accenture, Amazon, BAE Systems, Be the Business, BT, Cisco, EY, GSK, John Lewis Partnership, KPMG, McKinsey, Siemens UK and Sharing in Growth. These organisations have committed to provide more than 130 mentors, offering startups the chance to gain insights and advice from industry leaders.
SME lender streamlines loan application process through Lloyds partnership
Small business lender iwoca is releasing Open Banking for all new customers with a Lloyds Bank account. iwoca is the first SME lender to connect with any of the nine largest banks under the Open Banking initiative. By securely linking their Lloyds Bank data, business owners can now provide iwoca up to five years of transaction history. According to iwoca, this accelerates the application process for customers to less than 60 seconds.
Japan’s KDDI partners with Rakuten on mobile payment
Japanese mobile operator KDDI will launch e-commerce services by partnering with online retailer Rakuten. The partnership allows KDDI to employ Rakuten's e-payment and logistics infrastructure and Rakuten to use KDDI's network to enter the mobile market. KDDI, Japan's second-largest mobile phone carrier, has 53 million subscribers while Rakuten has 98.7 million registered users for its virtual mall and other websites with financial, payment and logistics resources. KDDI will roll out QR code-based ‘au Pay’ in April 2019.