Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
Why there has never been a better time to be an SME
According to Beat Buhlmann, general manager in EMEA for Evernote, there has never been a better time to be an SME. However, he noted that SMEs don’t understand the advantages they hold and how they can build on these to develop and improve their business. The ability for businesses to react quickly to change is now crucial due to the speed of doing business and technological change. SMEs have a huge advantage over larger corporate competitors as they are able to adapt and implement changes quickly. Another factor that is helping small businesses is the way cloud technology has levelled the playing field in terms of the IT infrastructure they can access.
Indian e-payments hit 20.7 billion transactions
E-payment transactions in India recorded a significant jump in 2017-18 to reach 20.7 billion (2070.98 crore), providing a big boost to the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative. This compares to 2.2 billion (220 crore) e-transactions in 2013-14. India’s Minister of State for Information Technology said the central government is working with different stakeholders, including smart cities, banks, payment service providers and states, to further promote cashless payments. A target of 30.1 billion (3,013 crore) digital payments transactions has been set by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for 2018-19.
SMEs offered support with late payments
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) is helping ensure that late payments don’t put small businesses at risk. Whether or not payments are received on time can determine whether smaller businesses can pay their staff or suppliers on time. Around a third of payments to small businesses are estimated to be late with an average value of £6,142. Around £14 billion is currently estimated to be owed to small businesses, leading to 20 per cent of small businesses running into cash flow problems. Related to this, new research by online payments company GoCardless found that one in five SME owners spend up to three days chasing late payments during the summer and one in ten take nine days doing so. As a consequence, 57 per cent of SME owners end up ditching their holiday plans because of unpaid invoices. Established in December 2017, the SBC ensures fair payment practices for the 5.7 million small businesses in the UK and supports them in resolving payment disputes with larger companies, such as the collapse of Carillion, which left much of its supply chain unpaid.
E-payments support donations to homeless
Homeless people are wearing barcodes around their necks as part of an initiative to allow those who do not carry change to give donations via online payments. The new wearable QR codes, like those found on online tickets, are being trialled in Oxford as part of the Greater Change scheme backed by Oxford University. Money can be transferred to a homeless person by people scanning their phones on the barcode which is linked to an online profile of the person it belongs to, and making an e-payment. The initiative aims to support the poorest people by helping them off the street and into employment and accommodation with the money they individually raise.
Finding time the biggest internal challenge for small business owners
Research by small business finance provider Reliant Funding has found that customer spending is the top external challenge for small business owners in the US, while finding time to do everything was cited as the top internal challenge. The research also found that marketing efforts and facility and equipment upgrades were the main investment priorities for small businesses. It also revealed that since winter 2017, the optimism of small business owners about the future of their businesses decreased by 10 per cent.
Alternative payments beat traditional methods in APAC e-commerce
Alternative payment methods such as mobile wallets now account for just over half of e-commerce transaction value in the Asia Pacific region, according to research from GlobalData. With the likes of China's Alipay becoming almost ubiquitous in its massive home market, shoppers are increasingly favouring digital wallets over traditional payment methods. In the first quarter of 2018, alternative payment methods accounted for 51 per cent of the total e-commerce transaction value in APAC, up from 49 per cent in the last quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, payment cards accounted for 28 per cent of transaction value, bank transfers 15 per cent and cash and cheques just six per cent.