Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
SMEs £50 billion in debt to suppliers in 2018 due to late payments
Research from Xero and PayPal found that British small businesses are owed an average of £23,360 in overdue invoices on any one day – up 17 per cent from the year before – and have to wait on average 14 days after the due date to be paid. Xero’s Small Business Insights also demonstrated the knock-on effects of tardy payment practices. With 48 per cent of invoices issued by small businesses on average in any given month being paid late, this results in 26 per cent of small-business owners struggling to pay their own suppliers on time. The average UK SME owed its suppliers £8,811 in overdue bills in December 2018, equivalent to £50 billion of debt across the small-business economy.
HSBC offers green finance to UK businesses
Banking giant HSBC has launched a new range of green finance services aimed at helping businesses of all sizes strengthen sustainability initiatives. HSBC has launched a range of new loans and a Green Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) available to everyone from SMEs through to large corporates. The Green Loans services were trialled last year and have been extended to SMEs wanting to secure loans for sustainability initiatives. The minimum green loan starts at £300,000 and HSBC UK has already provided green loans totalling £600 million as part of the pilot.
Digital bank licences to be issued in Singapore
Singapore has announced plans to issue up to five digital bank licences as part of efforts to add market diversity and boost the banking system in the country, as it looks to become a digital economy. The move is also part of long-term market liberalisation efforts and an extension of an existing internet banking framework that has allowed local banks to establish digital bank subsidiaries. The announcement means non-bank organisations can apply for a licence and offer digital banking services, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Small-business investment plans lowest in two years
Small businesses in Britain plan the least investment in two years as uncertainty about Brexit drags on, a survey has shown. Nearly three-quarters of small firms surveyed by the Federation of Small Businesses said they will not increase capital investment over the coming quarter. “It’s impossible for small-business owners to invest for the future when we don’t know what the future holds,” FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said. Britain has secured an extension of the Brexit deadline to 31 October. Both candidates to replace Theresa May as prime minister say they are prepared to take the country out of the European Union without a transition deal if necessary.
FCA aims to give more time to implement Strong Customer Authentication
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said it may allow some payment services providers more time to implement Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) for card payments in e-commerce beyond the deadline of 14 September 2019. In its response to the European Banking Authority’s Opinion on SCA under the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the FCA acknowledged the complexity of the payments markets across the EU and the challenges arising from the changes required. As a result, it accepts that, to avoid unintended negative consequences for some payment service users, it may provide additional time for implementation.
iwoca launches real-time loan decisions
Small-business lender iwoca has partnered with two of the industry’s biggest finance marketplaces – Funding Xchange and Funding Options – to offer real-time loan decisions to customers. Typically, small-business owners will receive loan decisions within 30 seconds, after which they are able to draw down funds. iwoca says this improves on the traditional “approval in principle” offered by other business lenders and is aimed at providing an increased level of certainty to customers when it comes to making decisions based on available finance. Loans will initially be limited to amounts up to £15,000.
Digital payments arrive at Singapore hawker centres and coffee shops
More than 500 food stalls at 44 hawker centres, coffee shops and industrial canteens have adopted a unified digital payments system, according to Enterprise Singapore. The move, in line with the Singaporean government’s Smart Nation push, allows both merchants and customers in the food establishments to make cashless transactions. The stalls are currently able to accept a total of 23 payment schemes under one point-of-sales terminal.