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News Round-up: Retailers focus on digital and mobile payments, UK SMEs positive about economy, Visa launches digital payment system in Argentina

Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:

Retailers to prioritise digital and mobile payments

Implementing new emerging digital and mobile payment types will be one of the top payment initiatives for retailers in the next 18 months, according to a new report from analyst firm Forrester. Mobile wallet adoption is on the rise, with worldwide mobile payment revenue expected to surpass $1 trillion by next year. Retailers not implementing technologies that allow customers to pay how they want may be putting their brands at risk. If retailers want to capture more global sales in 2019 and beyond, Forrester recommends they give customers everywhere the payment choices they want, with increased support for e-wallets and local payment methods and currencies.

UK SMEs positive about the economy

Despite facing a host of challenges in 2019, UK SMEs feel positive about the economy, their place in it, and their strategies for the future, according to a global study conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of American Express. Of the senior SME executives and decision makers across 15 countries, 64 per cent regard policy, law or regulatory change as the greatest threat in 2019, followed by economic uncertainty. Many respondents predict that increasing productivity and operational efficiency will have the greatest impact on their financial performance over the next three years. They plan to implement cost saving and improve management decision making to realise these targets.

TSB to improve support for small businesses

TSB has committed to help UK small-business borrowers facing financial difficulty. The bank said it will offer greater protection for small-business owners through its SME Lending Pledge, having listened to the needs of business borrowers and as a response to industry-wide calls for sufficient safety measures for struggling businesses. The bank has committed to being more transparent in dealing with small businesses, to give struggling companies "reasonable time" to return their businesses to health and to keep loan margins unchanged if a company enters financial difficulty. TSB also pledged not to default a business if it remained up to date on payments but a value change affected its covenant with the bank.

Visa launches digital payment system in Argentina

Visa has launched its VisaNet digital payment processing system in Argentina, which promises to bring new services and ways to pay to cardholders, shopkeepers and banking institutions in the Latin American country. The launch will increase Visa’s share of domestic transactions in the region by 10 per cent.

Eduardo Coello, Visa’s regional president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said the move is part of the payment provider’s commitment to working with partners “to accelerate the adoption of electronic payments”.

VisaNet is a worldwide network that can handle 65,000 transaction messages per second.

Business lender Iwoca gets £7.5m boost

London-listed fund Augmentum Fintech has invested £7.5 million into small-business lending provider Iwoca as part of a first round of investment understood to be part of a much larger series D funding round to be announced in early February. The fintech firm, which offers credit facilities to small businesses across the UK, has raised just under £50 million in equity funding to date. Its existing investors include Etsy-backer Acton Capital Partners, the venture arm of Commerzbank and Prime Ventures. Launched in 2012, Iwoca now employs a team of 70 staff at its London headquarters and has funded more than 25,000 SMEs across the UK, Germany and Poland.

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News Round-up: Retailers focus on digital and mobile payments, UK SMEs positive about economy, Visa launches digital payment system in Argentina
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