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News Round-up: Small businesses missing out on Open Banking benefits, general election fails to lift business optimism, Amazon brings voice-activated payments to petrol stations

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

Small businesses lack confidence in Open Banking

Most small business owners remain wary about sharing their data electronically, holding back the rollout of Open Banking. Introduced two years ago and aimed at making it easier to manage their money, Open Banking benefits small businesses by putting invoice, cash flow, payroll, utilities and tax data all in the same place. But fewer than one in seven business owners questioned by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said they were sharing the details of their business bank accounts with third parties. “The financial crash casts a long shadow. A lot of small business owners still don’t trust lenders to do the right thing,” said FSB chairman Mike Cherry.

UK business optimism unmoved by general election

UK business is in wait-and-see mode following the December general election as business optimism flatlines across the UK. According to a report from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, UK business is waiting to see the impact of the new government and its policies, particularly how the UK will leave the EU. BDO’s optimism index, which covers services and manufacturing, remained virtually static (+0.01 points) at 95.72, lingering just about negative territory. The lack of change in confidence follows a trend seen in the four most recent elections in which businesses adopted a similar approach.

Amazon brings voice-activated payments to petrol stations

Amazon has partnered with oil giant ExxonMobil and financial services provider Fiserv to allow customers who have the Alexa voice assistant enabled in their vehicles (via Echo Auto) to use the voice assistant to make payments at petrol stations. When a customer pulls into a filling station, they confirm the station and pump number via Alexa, which then processes the payment and activates the pump for usage. The payment will be made via online payment service Amazon Pay. Amazon Alexa will be available for gas payment across 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in the US later this year.

£50 million kick-start for London’s minority entrepreneurs

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme is providing a funding boost to London-based entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, according to new figures. Latest data from the government-backed programme shows that it has issued 7,366 loans to start-up owners in London from BAME backgrounds, amounting to more than £50 million in funding. This represents almost half of all Start Up Loans in London. While two in five Londoners identified as being from Asian, Black, mixed or other ethnic groups in the last census, almost half of all the 15,423 Start Up Loans issued in the capital since 2012 went to people from BAME backgrounds.

Music-streaming service Deezer agrees Middle East payments partnership

Deezer has signed a deal with Dubai-based Mondia for the rollout of direct carrier-billing services across Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. The partnership will see the Mondia Pay payment solution connect Deezer to mobile operator subscribers, facilitating the collection of payments through its platform. This is another move to allow users in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to subscribe to Deezer’s service without the use of debit or credit cards, following last month’s deal with Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Telecom Company (STC). Deezer’s CEO in MENAT, Tarek Mounir, said one of the company’s main challenges in the region is “how to deal with low levels of credit card penetration”.

Digital payments introduced in Ghanaian churches

Some churches in Ghana have adopted digital forms of payment, including mobile money transactions, as part of efforts to collect tithes, offerings and other donations from their congregation. According to state-owned Daily Graphic, the Prayer Palace International Ministry in Accra is accepting payments via the MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) digital wallet. The words “send your offering and tithes on MTN mobile money” are projected on screens along with the church’s official MoMo numbers. Lady Reverend Adaeze Ayoka explained that MoMo was a simple and convenient way to make contributions to the church.

Paytm wallet: Charges for adding money and making bank transfers

Indian mobile wallet company Paytm will charge users to add money via credit card or when transferring money from their e-wallet to a bank account. Paytm customers will have to pay a charge for adding more than 10,000 rupees per month using a credit card. According to Paytm’s schedule of charges, any transactions less than 10,000 rupees can be completed for free. For higher transactions, the firm will charge 1.75 per cent plus goods and services tax (GST). If the total money added by credit card, including the current transaction, exceeds 10,000 rupees, the entire transaction amount will be charged as 1.75 per cent plus GST.

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News Round-up: Small businesses missing out on Open Banking benefits, general election fails to lift business optimism, Amazon brings voice-activated payments to petrol stations
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