Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
PayPal makes major Uber investment
PayPal has invested $500 million in Uber as part of a strategy to better compete with the likes of Alibaba and Tencent in Asia, as well as North American giants Google, Apple, and Amazon, who all offer forms of online payments. The investment was made ahead of Uber’s highly anticipated IPO, according to the transit provider’s updated S1 filing. Uber operates in more than 60 countries and 400 cities while PayPal is available in more than 200 countries and supports 25 currencies. By handling payments on the back-end for Uber, the company is positioning itself to benefit from some of Uber’s potential growth.
Late payments efforts start to bear fruit for SMEs
The small-business ombudsman scheme launched by the government 18 months ago appears to be having an impact. Paul Uppal, the Small Business Commissioner appointed in December 2017 to help small enterprises tackle late payments, has presided over a near-tenfold increase in recoveries over the past six months, according to research by online funding advice platform Funding Options. The research also suggests the Small Business Commissioner has recovered £3.1 million in unpaid invoices for small businesses over the past six months. That compares with just £380,000 in the previous six-month period.
Apprenticeship reforms needed for small businesses
The government risks making apprenticeships unaffordable for smaller businesses and reforms are urgently needed to curb the continued decline in apprentice numbers, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The organisation claims that more than a quarter of smaller organisations that employed apprentices before and after the apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 said it has had a negative impact on their business. Recruiting an apprentice was the biggest challenge for employers, with 42 per cent struggling to do so. In addition, 29 per cent said allocating management time to supervise apprentices was a barrier, and nearly a quarter said meeting the requirement for 20 per cent of the training to be done ‘off the job’ was a challenge.
Government launches digital toolkit for small businesses
The government, as part of a fresh push to engage industry, has launched a new digital toolkit, dubbed ‘Exercise in a Box’, for small businesses and local authorities to test their capabilities and boost their resilience to cyberattack. The free online tool, designed by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), includes two sets of exercises: A technical simulation and a ‘table-top discussion. Its launch follows government security officials making Industry100, an initiative promoting close collaboration between industry and the NCSC, a permanent feature of the UK’s security landscape.
Mastercard aims for 10 million merchants in India by 2020
Global payments provider Mastercard is planning to help more merchants across India to accept digital payments by 2020, hoping to double the nearly five million merchants currently doing so. Raising acceptance of digital payments among merchants require three critical things according to Mastercard: Education and awareness, development of low-cost acceptance solutions and merchant onboarding via accelerator programmes. The company is joining forces with fintech companies, payments facilitators, industry bodies, acquirers and regulators as part of its efforts, and is also working to extend the acceptance network.
Bank-telco alliance aims to shake up digital payments in Indonesia
A new state-owned banking and telecoms alliance has launched a new digital payments platform intended to provide customers with greater choice and help improve financial inclusion in Indonesia. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, the country’s largest telecoms firm, has teamed up with four banks to launch the LinkAja mobile payment services platform. The platform uses QR-code technology to allow customers to make cashless payments on their mobile phones, enabling them to pay utility bills without needing a bank account and to top up their accounts at convenience stores or ATMs.
Saudi Arabia launches real-time payments system
Saudi Arabia has launched a real-time payments system built by Mastercard-owned Vocalink, taking a major step in its ambitions to create a digital economy. For consumers and businesses, the platform will enable instant credit transfers, e-invoicing and billing, real-time payment acknowledgement, remittances and bulk payments. The technology will also enable instant, mobile-based P2P money transfers between friends and family. According to Vocalink, the system will significantly speed up digital commerce and enable fintechs and financial institutions to take advantage of the benefits of a digital economy.