Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
Small businesses to get funding boost from government
New laws to help small businesses deal with unfair contracts that stop them raising money from unpaid invoices has been put to Parliament. The laws will make it easier for small businesses to access invoice finance, providing a long-term boost to the economy of around £1 billion. The changes are part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to build an environment in which small businesses can thrive. Currently, a small supplier’s contract with a larger company can potentially prevent it from securing invoice finance from banks and other investors. Under the new proposed laws, the majority of such contractual restrictions entered into after 31 December 2018 could be disregarded by small businesses and finance providers.
PayPal launches instant payouts for sellers
PayPal has announced a new feature to provide instant payouts to businesses using its platform for their transactions. Funds Now will come as standard to all companies that have no complaints or fraud flags on their PayPal accounts. It will first go live in the US, UK and Australia – where a pilot of the service has been made available to one million customers already – and will eventually be rolled out globally. Typically, funds from a payment could take days or weeks to arrive in a seller’s account because checks would be carried out to mitigate fraud and risk. However PayPal can now predict patterns of behaviour, enabling it to speed up the process of assessing transactions. A number of other payments providers, including ePayments, have already implemented instant payouts.
SME finance platform powered by blockchain tech launched
A global finance platform has been launched that enables investors around the world to fund short-term loans to small businesses using blockchain technology. The Lithuania-based start-up Debitum Network launched the Abra 1.0 platform at World Blockchain Forum in London with an investment portfolio of €500,000. The platform, which will be rolled out in 15 countries by 2019, is based on a unique hybrid model, which combines features of cryptocurrency transactions and traditional lending. The system’s internal processes are powered by blockchain technology using the platform’s ethereum-based DEB token, while loans are provided using traditional fiat currency. Abra 1.0 can provide loans of between €10,000 and €1 million.
Global e-commerce payment market to hit $64 billion by 2025
The global e-commerce payment market accounted for $24.26 billion in business in 2017, according to the ‘E-commerce Payment Market to 2025 – Global Analysis and Forecasts by Type and Industry’ report from Research and Markets. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.1 per cent between 2018 and 2025 to reach $64.69 billion by 2025. Lower barriers of entry and advances in technology are expected to create a favourable environment to support this growth. The report also stated that e-commerce players consider a number of factors when selecting a payment gateway service provider, including ease of onboarding, the range of payment options and the availability of omnichannel support.
SME Alliance kicks off bank engagement with Barclays meeting
Barclays is to meet with the SME Alliance on 10 October as part of the small business lobby group’s efforts to avoid a repeat of the HBOS Reading case. Senior HBOS bankers have been convicted of fraud in the period preceding the 2008 financial crash, with small-business customers among the victims. Between 2002 and 2007, small-business owners were transferred to the HBOS corporate division in Reading and classified as high risk, despite having never missed a repayment. The SME Alliance, which lobbies for fair treatment by banks and advisers, aims to arrange similar engagements with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group, with meetings likely to take place once all the cases linked to fraud at HBOS Reading are closed.
SME confidence not dented by Brexit
New research by delivery provider CitySprint has found that that 77 per cent of UK SMEs remain as confident about the future as they did a year ago, with 51 per cent feeling more confident. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, 89 per cent said they are in the same or better financial shape compared to 12 months ago. The Collaborate UK 2018 survey of more than 1,000 SME decision-makers found that younger businesses are more confident than larger organisations, with 60 per cent of those less than three years old more confident about their future, compared to 34 per cent of businesses that are 15-20 years old. However, Brexit is cited by 30 per cent of small businesses as the number-one obstacle to the success of their business over the next 12 months – slightly higher than last year.
NETS-UnionPay partnership enables e-payment abroad for Singaporeans
Consumers based in Singapore can now make e-payments abroad with NETSPay through the app’s partnership with UnionPay. The upgraded app has a new wallet feature that lets consumers scan and pay for purchases at more than 7.5 million UnionPay QR code merchants globally. They can also make contactless payments using NFC-enabled smartphones at nearly 12 million UnionPay QuickPass contactless acceptance points without the need to use foreign currencies. In addition, users can send money or receive money from other NETSPay users via mobile numbers or QR code.
Advice and support for small digital businesses in the North
The Calderdale Digital Shift Summit, a three-day event for young and growing digital businesses in the Leeds City Region, will take place on 27-29 September at Leeds Beckett’s University Business Centre in Halifax. The event is a collaboration between Leeds Beckett University and Calderdale Council and will provide digital-based SMEs with advice, information and expertise to help them to grow, create new ideas and increase sales. The events are free for eligible businesses to attend. A wide range of workshops will be run by Leeds Beckett academics, business growth mentors and industry experts.