Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:
UK SMEs say tax system is unfair
UK SMEs claim they are not given as much support from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as medium and large businesses, and that the rules are not applied evenly. According to a survey of 1,000 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce, 49 per cent of businesses do not believe HMRC provides the requisite support they need to be compliant, while 67 per cent think tax rules aren’t applied fairly across all businesses. In addition, 58 per cent of small businesses say the tax regime is unfair to them. The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee recently criticised HMRC for "having inadequately considered the needs and concerns of smaller businesses" during its rollout of Making Tax Digital for VAT.
Egypt to make digital payments compulsory
The Egyptian government will make digital payments compulsory for public and private organisations from May, according to a statement made by the country’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maaity at the 2019 Annual and Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. Egypt’s parliament voted in favour of the E-Payments Act, which regulates cashless payments, on 11 March. The law includes 13 articles requiring all government, private and public institutions, syndicates, and any other private or public entity to use digital payments for taxes, customs fees, bank loans, insurance premiums and utilities whenever the fees exceed an amount specified by the act or by a decision issued by the Minister of Finance.
NatWest ramps-up small business loan programme
NatWest will double its growth funding programme for UK SMEs, citing the need to help them navigate Brexit disruption. The UK bank’s growth funding loan pot, which was launched in May 2018, will be immediately doubled to £6 billion in the latest sign that companies are demanding resources to cope with political impasse and that banks and investors can cash in by helping them. The money will be available immediately and will help businesses looking to grow, fund green initiatives and navigate the current uncertain business climate.
First batch of companies join South Korea’s financial services sandbox
South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced the first cohort of financial service providers accepted into its recently launched financial regulatory sandbox. The FSC launched the sandbox on 1 April as the Special Act on Financial Innovation Support came into effect. The regulator said it had shortlisted 19 applications for priority review. Of these, nine firms have been allowed to test their innovative services and products in the regulatory sandbox. Selected firms will test products and services in areas such as digital payment services, P2P financial services, combining financial services with mobile communication services, blockchain technology and credit card payment services using QR codes.
Wave and Visa launch cash flow management solution for SMEs
Wave, a Toronto-based financial platform for small business owners, has announced a new payments solution created in partnership with Visa, designed to change how small businesses manage cash flow, as well as provide merchants quicker access to funds. Making use of Worldpay’s payments processing platform, Wave’s Instant Payouts feature, integrates Visa’s real-time push payments solution, Visa Direct, into Wave’s small business accounting offering, which Wave claims will grant faster access to money earned. Wave manages more than $244 billion in income and expense transactions for its customers, including $16 billion in annual invoicing.
Digital payments arrive on Japanese toy vending machines
Japanese toy maker Bandai has introduced toy vending machines that accept digital payments. The Smart Gashapon machines accept payments via transport-linked e-money cards, such as East Japan Railway’s Suica. Bandai also plans to enable payments using QR codes. The company will install 50 units of the machine in Japan, mainly in the Kanto eastern region including Tokyo, by the end of May. Each unit comprises five product dispensers, an e-money reader device and a touch screen display for operating the machine. Users can check the locations of the machines and types of available toys on the internet.