Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
NatWest launches digital business bank Mettle
RBS Group’s NatWest bank is ramping up its new digital business bank, Mettle, which is aimed at combating challenger rivals. Mettle began life as a trial from NatWest last November, but the rollout is now being ramped up after it became available in app stores in August. Mettle’s recently hired chief executive, Marieke Flament, the former European managing director of cryptocurrency firm Circle, has vowed a “drastically different” service that will focus relentlessly on customers. Flament reportedly said Mettle has a “genuine passion for customers” that she hopes will set it apart from rivals as RBS-owned NatWest looks to take on others in the SME banking space, such as Tide and Starling.
Helsinki encourages elderly residents to pay bills electronically
The City of Helsinki has launched an initiative to encourage elderly residents to pay bills electronically. The pilot project, which is being run in conjunction with lobbying group Finance Finland (FFI), is planned to run for half a year. The target group of the project are residents aged over 65 who receive invoices from Helsinki social care and health care services. The project has two main aims: to find digital solutions that facilitate seniors’ payment of bills and to boost the efficiency of the city’s financial management. Residents of Helsinki will be encouraged and supported to use e-invoicing systems and direct debits to pay care bills, with a focus on those who already use online banking services.
Late payments see SME bosses go without wages
Nearly half of small contractor owners have been forced to stop their own wages due to payment delays by bigger firms. New survey findings from engineering services trade bodies ECA and BESA reveal the devastating impact of unfair payment on construction. Three-quarters of business owners said they had made sacrifices forced on them by late payment. These included reducing their own salary (37 per cent) and cancelling company training activity (23 per cent). Nearly one in ten employers were also forced to pay their own staff late. ECA Director of Legal and Business Rob Driscoll said the data “shows the truly devastating effects late payment has on the lives of business owners, their staff, their children, and their wellbeing”.
Philippines launches e-payment systems
The Philippines’ central bank has launched digital payment systems named ‘eGov Pay’ and ‘QR PH’, to expand its digital capabilities. As part of the country’s ongoing digital transformation programme, eGov Pay is intended to support the collection of taxes and other government fees online using citizens’ PESOnet accounts. The Philippines has been actively making efforts to streamline transactions and payments in the country. The central bank governor, Governor Benjamin Diokno, recently announced the Philippines aims to be ‘cash-lite’ by 2023.
PayPal spends big on price comparison tool
PayPal has acquired online price comparison tool Honey for $4 billion, making it the company’s biggest-ever acquisition. PayPal said it hopes the merger will “transform the shopping experience for PayPal’s consumers while increasing sales and customer engagement for its merchants”. The move signals a further push toward offering an end-to-end e-commerce experience, which PayPal has begun attempting in recent years with the integration of its PayPal and Venmo checkout tools.
Wordline announces e-payment hackathon winners
European payment services provider Worldline has announced the winners of its e-Payments Challenge 2019, which brings together fintech start-ups with Worldline customers and its own experts for three intense days of co-creation. In September, 25 fintech start-ups competed in Frankfurt on 15 challenges set by 11 clients to design solutions using Worldline assets. Switzerland’s OneVisage won the Grand Jury award for a smart solution that helps prevent digital identity theft. A special prize was given to Finland’s CloudAsset for its P3 digital payment platform, which digitises the flow of finance depending on customer requirements.