Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
Small business owners take just 15 days off a year
More than a third of UK small business owners get by on three weeks holiday or less a year. According to research by business lender iwoca, 37 per cent of owners at SMEs took fewer than 15 days of annual leave in the last calendar year, significantly below the statutory 28-day entitlement for employees. One in five (21 per cent) respondents in the 1,000-strong survey would consider cutting their holiday short amid fears they were “not meeting the needs of their clients”, while concerns about missing business opportunities were also common. The report also found that 22 per cent of SME owners took at least 36 days off last year.
UK SMEs hit by high cyberattack cost
A report from cyber insurance firm Gallagher has found that 1.4 million British SMEs were affected by a cyberattack or significant security incident in 2018. The alerts, according to Gallagher, cost the UK economy £8.8 billion overall, with the average attack costing nearly £6,500 to resolve. Gallagher's survey of over a thousand UK SMEs found so-called ‘crisis incidents’ such as cyberattacks, extortion, industrial espionage and terrorism are becoming a growing concern for small businesses everywhere. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents said they had been affected by a crisis event last year, a five percent increase from 2017. One in six (17 per cent) SMEs spent £10,000 or more to combat an incident, with nine per cent paying out more than £20,000.
Ingenico to support Ikea e-commerce in India
Global payments service provider Ingenico Group has partnered with Swedish furnishings retailer Ikea’s India unit to enable digital payments for Ikea’s e-commerce platform. Ingenico ePayments India has developed and implemented a customised payment gateway solution and Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR). Ikea will be launching its online shopping services in Mumbai, followed by Hyderabad, opening physical stores and introducing other touchpoints that will bring the brand closer to customers. Ikea aims to be present in 49 Indian cities by 2030.
Amazon 150 tools and services set to support SME growth
Amazon has launched 150 tools and services since the beginning of the year to help independent SMEs grow their sales in Amazon stores. Tools such as Sold by Amazon help sellers manage the pricing of their products in Amazon’s stores, while fulfilment tools like Target Inventory Levels allow sellers to manage their Fulfilment by Amazon inventory and, in turn, increase sales. New tools and services, along with infrastructure, programmes and people, are part of the more than $15 billion Amazon intends to invest this year to empower independent SMEs selling on Amazon’s stores.
Government urged to simplify Apprenticeship Levy
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has called for a more “flexible” Apprenticeship Levy to benefit school leavers. The Institute says that UK SMEs are in danger of missing out on young talent if the levy is not reformed. Introduced in 2017, companies with a payroll of £3 million or more must pay the levy but can reclaim government vouchers for apprenticeships, whereas companies with a smaller payroll need not pay the levy but can still claim apprentice funding. According to the ICAEW, the benefits for non-levy paying employers are particularly enticing, with the government committing to paying 95 per cent of its apprenticeship training costs, but the complexities in accessing the funds are putting SMEs off applying.
Indian central bank ups recurring digital payment level
Digital payment companies like Paytm, Razorpay and card schemes like Visa and Mastercard are eyeing new avenues of business as the Reserve Bank of India has allowed consumers to make recurring payments of up to Rs 2,000 from next month. This means customers can set auto pay instructions for small-value repetitive transactions such as subscriptions and bill payments on mobile wallets or debit and credit cards without having to put in the second factor of authentication every time a payment is made. While the banking regulator has taken the first major step, the next, according to industry experts, would be to allow recurring payments on Unified Payments Interface (UPI).