Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
Small business confidence continues to suffer
Seven out of 10 SMEs do not expect their performance to improve over the coming three months, according to the latest research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Its quarterly UK SBI confidence measure stands at -8.8 in Q2 2019, down 22 points compared to the same period in 2018, marking the fourth consecutive quarter with a negative index score. This is the longest slump since the index was launched in 2010. Sixty-eight per cent of small firms do not expect their performance to improve next quarter, with 41 per cent expecting it to worsen. There are serious concerns about labour costs and regulation following the recent introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD), an increase in minimum wage rates, and higher auto-enrolment contributions for employers.
Banks warn EU anti-fraud rules could hinder online payments
Europe’s big banks have warned that more than a quarter of online payments will be impossible to complete from September because of a lack of preparedness for new EU anti-fraud rules. They have “urgently” requested more time to adapt. In a letter seen by the Financial Times, trade bodies for the European banking sector wrote to the European Commission and Europe’s top banking regulator asking for an EU-wide effort to manage risks created by the new rules. The planned changes, which are part of the EU’s Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), will require most online payments above €30 to go through an extra level of verification such as entering a code received via a text message.
Visa comes to contactless transit payments in Singapore
Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has added Visa cards to its contactless transit payments initiative, SimplyGo. SimplyGo allows commuters to use their Mastercard or Visa contactless bank cards or mobile phones to pay for travel on public transport. To use a bank card or contactless device, commuters are required to tap it on the fare reader at the train station gantry or on the bus when boarding and alighting. Commuters can also view their travel expenditure and history by registering for an account on the TransitLink SimplyGo Portal. The fares charged will be the same amount as if a commuter had used a travel card. The project will be one of Visa’s largest implementations of contactless acceptance for transit globally, with 30,000 acceptance points.
Alipay and six European digital wallets partner on mobile payments
Six mobile wallet providers in Europe will adopt a unified QR code for mobile payments from Chinese payments provider Alipay, allowing users of each wallet to pay for their purchases across 10 countries in Europe. Austria’s Bluecode, Finland’s ePassi and Pivo, Oslo-based Vipps, Spain’s Momo and Portugal’s Pagaqui will roll out Alipay’s QR code format so users of any wallet can make mobile payments at merchants across Europe that already accept payments for the other wallets. Alipay users will also be able to pay at merchants who have already adopted the same QR code format. The collaboration will bring together over five million users in Europe and more than 190,000 merchants.
Digital payments growth in India driven by demonetisation
The removal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from circulation in 2016 helped drive digital payments growth, according to a new report by the Reserve Bank of India. India recorded an accelerated growth rate of over 50 per cent in the volume of retail digital payment transactions in the last four years, with the 2018-19 growth also fuelled by the steep growth in the use of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) real-time payment system. With 3.5 million digital payments transactions, India was behind only Japan and the US in 2017, according to available data.
Mastercard and Payswiff partner to boost digital payments in smaller Indian cities
Mastercard and payment transaction provider Payswiff have partnered to boost digital payments solutions beyond the eight largest cities in India. They aim to speed up acceptance and adoption of digital payments by providing a mobile app, services and support in regional languages, especially in areas where point-of-sale (POS) machines are not easily accessible. Payswiff’s SET mobile app enables individuals and business owners to accept payments using more than 60 payment options, including credit and debit cards, e-wallets, e-payment links and UPI.