Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
SME lending highest for two years
UK SME lending hit a two-year high in June, according to Bank of England figures, despite Brexit uncertainty continuing to escalate. The amount borrowed by SMEs increased by £375 million in June, a growth rate of 0.8 per cent, as businesses began to increasingly consider preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. However, overall business borrowing during the first half of 2019 has been stronger than the same period in 2018, and the annual growth rate has, therefore, risen, the Bank of England outlined in its monthly statistics on borrowing and deposits by households and businesses.
WhatsApp payments feature coming to India this year
WhatsApp will roll out its payments service in India this year following a year-long pilot, according to global chief Will Cathcart, as the Facebook-owned messaging giant taps an upsurge in digital payments in its dominant market. WhatsApp is ubiquitous across India, where data consumption is surging thanks to cheap internet, but a full launch of its payments feature had been delayed amid some false messages circulating on the platform that have led to increased government scrutiny, according to local media. WhatsApp has also been trying to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.
SMEs losing out in legal system – research
Up to 2.4 million SMEs, start-ups and self-employed people are being let down by the legal system and could be falling into a legal gap, according to research published by independent technology innovation organisation Nesta Challenges. It found that 43 per cent of the 183 SMEs and self-employed people surveyed think the legal system in England and Wales is set up to suit only big businesses and those with the resources to pay for it. The research also revealed nearly 80 per cent believe it should be easier to check if a problem can be resolved through the legal system. It was also revealed that 45 per cent said they were very willing to embrace digital services to help with legal problems.
POS provider SumUp partners with Starling Bank, Mastercard
European mobile point-of-sale company SumUp has partnered with Starling Bank to provide small merchants with access to faster settlements. SumUp, which delivers access to affordable and easy-to-use payment devices, enables merchants to accept card payments in seconds, while traditional banking services require two to four days for payments to clear. By using Starling Banking Services, SumUp can ensure their UK merchants receive payments on the next business day.
SumUp has also partnered with Mastercard to increase the number of electronic payment acceptance locations across 27 European countries. The partnership will enable micro businesses and SMEs to accept electronic payment via SumUp card readers by card and digital-enabled devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches or wristbands.
Visa invests in Southeast Asia’s payments platform Gojek
Visa has invested in mobile on-demand service and payments platform Gojek. The investment was part of a Series F fundraising round, which will support the growth of Gojek’s payment services across Southeast Asia. Visa and Gojek will also work together to develop digital solutions aimed at the unbanked and underserved population in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. “We both want to make everyday life more convenient, whether it’s how people move around town in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing urban areas or making it easier for people to pay and be paid all over the world,” said Chris Clark, Visa regional president Asia Pacific.
Fintech Open ramps up SME banking offering with Visa partnership
Fintech start-up Open, which offers an SME and start-up banking service in partnership with banks, has partnered with Visa to launch a business credit card for SMEs, payment gateway acquiring and real-time payments. The business card from Open is specifically designed to help start-ups qualify based on funding rather than credit history. The card comes with a range of expense management tools to help businesses manage expenses and is integrated with WhatsApp for seamless expense filing. The credit card also comes with a reward programme that lets start-ups earn points for their spend that can be redeemed for various software subscriptions, cloud hosting and discounts on co-working spaces.