Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
UK SMEs create more jobs than larger firms, but struggle to attract young workers
SMEs in the UK have created three times more jobs over the past five years than larger businesses, according to an analysis of government statistics by Santander Business Banking. Office for National Statistics data shows that while firms employing more than 250 people added about 650,000 net jobs from 2013-17, those employing fewer than 250 added 1.7 million. But separate research commissioned by Santander found that significant numbers of young people do not recognise the career opportunities that SMEs offer, with just 35 per cent of Generation Z and Millennials leaving full-time education saying they want to work for an SME.
Singapore e-payment adoption boosted by ride-hailing firms
Singapore leads the way in digital payment services adoption across South East Asia with 52 per cent of Singaporeans already using such services, according to Google and Temasek’s e-Conomy SEA 2018 report. It was followed by Indonesia (46 per cent) and Malaysia (45 per cent). The report suggests that ride-hailing companies are driving uptake by making digital payments a cornerstone of their strategy. Many ride-hailing firms have plans to offer a broad range of online financial services, including money transfers, personal lending, investment products and insurance services.
UK SME business confidence down since 2017
Nearly a third of UK small and medium-sized businesses have considered leaving the UK to improve their chances of success. Research commissioned by Dun & Bradstreet revealed UK SME confidence in future financial success is down 19 per cent compared to last year. As well as ongoing uncertainty over Brexit impacting growth, the research also shows that late payments have risen in the past year. Cash flow remains a critical issue, with the average amount owed to SMEs at any one time over the past 12 months now at £80,141 – an increase of nearly 25 per cent from 2017. With late payments causing cash flow difficulties and delayed payments to suppliers and reduced profit performance, nearly two-thirds of respondents feel that there should be financial penalties in place to tackle late payments and 62 per cent believe there should be legislation in place to mitigate the problem.
SMEs suffering Wi-Fi woes
SMEs are suffering Wi-Fi issues that have the potential to undermine their customer relationships and deny them the chance to retain and grow their user base, according to research by network vendor Netgear. Despite most small firms recognising that they need to be able to offer customers access to decent Wi-Fi, huge numbers are plagued with problems. Netgear found that 90 per cent of UK SMEs had some sort of problem with Wi-Fi, including poor coverage, dropped connections and problems with speed. But 82 per cent of SMEs said it is important to be able to offer a good Wi-Fi connection, with half needing it for customer retention.
Kuwait brings in e-payment regulation to drive digital economy growth
Kuwait aims to increase transparency and boost consumer confidence in digital banking by mandating that all service providers register on a central e-payments system, a development that is expected to unlock growth in the market. The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) announced in late September that all service providers, including banks, companies and institutions, had 12 months to standardise their e-payment transactions in accordance with the bank’s approved standards. The development will see all electronic payment methods come under the regulation of the CBK. The move comes amid efforts to limit the potential risks associated with online payment methods.
Nearly half of Welsh SMEs lack basic digital skills
Just under half (45 per cent) of Welsh SMEs lack the basic digital skills that could drive growth, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index. Only 16 per cent of businesses in Wales are gaining a transactional benefit from trading online domestically, significantly below the UK average of 21 per cent. This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, with just four per cent of Welsh businesses using online channels to trade overseas. The report also found that only six per cent of Welsh businesses use digital channels to search for and discover growth opportunities for their business. In addition, 45 per cent of SMEs in Wales have no interest in developing their cybersecurity capability.