Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
One in three SME leaders wastes two days per week managing simple tasks
UK SMEs are beset by issues caused by poor and inefficient processes, according to new research by software firm, Process Bliss. More than half (54 per cent) of senior managers in SMEs are wasting a day every week just managing small day-to-day and repeatable tasks that drive a business – with a further 34 per cent wasting two days each week. This wasted time and inefficient process management within HR, finance, operations, marketing and sales can lead to variety of issues across the business. SME leaders do recognise that there is room for improvement, with 76 per cent admitting that they do not manage processes effectively.
Small business confidence hits seven-year low
Confidence among UK small firms has fallen to its lowest point since 2011, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. Forty-three per cent of small businesses expect their performance to worsen over the coming three months, up from 30 per cent last summer. The proportion of small exporters expecting international sales to fall next quarter has soared to a four-year high, surpassing 30 per cent for the first time in that period. Skills shortages are intensifying, with the number of small firms citing lack of access to appropriately skilled staff as a barrier to growth, rising to 36 per cent.
UAE to launch new integrated payment system
The UAE is to launch a new integrated payment system that builds upon the success of the eDirham system launched in 2001. The Ministry of Finance has met with various senior local and federal officials to review the strategic plan for the new system, which is scheduled for implementation in 2020. The digital payment mechanism currently in development will be supported by all national banks in the UAE as part of a larger effort to protect the country’s financial system and ensure the sustainability of fees and service revenues for the federal government.
MPs claim UK government is in danger of missing SME procurement goals
The UK government’s efforts to drive a third of its procurement spending to SMEs have moved in the wrong direction in the past few years, according to a new report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. The report said “the government deserves some credit for the various steps it has taken to make it easier for SMEs to bid for public-sector contracts” but is “in danger of missing” its long-held ambition of achieving the 33 per cent target by 2022. The committee recommends that the government needs to bring forward fresh and realistic proposals on how it will get back on track to meet its target by 2022.
BAE pension fund to give small business investment boost
One of the UK’s biggest pension funds is to lend to small businesses through online platform ThinCats, potentially transforming the way they are financed. BAE Systems Pensions announced a £200m programme with ThinCats, a peer-to-peer lender that targets fast-growing SMEs. UK SMEs remain far more reliant on bank lending than those in many other developed countries and the government has been encouraging pension funds to provide finance to them.
Dubai mobile payments provider Beam goes global
Dubai-based mobile payments platform Beam will expand into seven new markets next year. Beam launched in the UAE in 2012 and has around one million users. It plans to expand further into the Middle East and into Europe in the next six months, starting operations in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The aggressive expansion plans follow the acquisition of Beam's UAE operations by Majid Al Futtaim, one of the largest privately held retail conglomerates in the region.
Small Business Saturday breaks records
An estimated £812 million was spent in small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday – an eight per cent increase on 2017 – according to research commissioned by American Express. The study found that 90 per cent of local councils supported the campaign, a three per cent increase on 2017. Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday, said the sixth Small Business Saturday had boosted spending with Britain’s small independent businesses who year-on-year “prove their importance to their communities”.