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News Round-up: UK e-commerce market growth, Stripe looks to Asia, SMEs use finance to improve their cash flow

Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and digital payments:

UK e-commerce market to reach €231 billion by 2021

The UK e-commerce market is expected to grow by nine per cent annually over the next three years. The market is projected to be worth €231.2 billion by 2021, according to research by investment bank JP Morgan. The UK currently represents more than 30 per cent of the European e-commerce market. JP Morgan’s 2019 Global Payments Trends Reports reveals that, while the UK is set to maintain its position as the largest e-commerce market in Europe, ten other European countries predicted to experience double-digit e-commerce expansion between now and 2021 and likely to grow at a faster rate than the UK.

Stripe explores payment potential of Asia

Payments technology company Stripe is expanding its presence in Asia as it plans to bring Stripe Terminal – its product designed for in-store payment acceptance (currently available in the US) – to the region, according to the South China Morning Post. Stripe’s online services are already offered in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. The company also has an engineering hub in Singapore. The company sees significant potential for payments in Asia, with CFO William Gaybrick recently saying at a conference that "Asia is leading the way in payments", thanks to the region's relatively developed markets, increasing number of customers online and new payment methods.

Many SMEs plan to improve their cash flow with finance – survey

Analysis by Purbeck Insurance Services found that 28 per cent of SME executives are turning to external funders to help them deal with late payments. Small businesses are collectively owed billions in late payments, largely due to current economic uncertainty, meaning they may be looking at unpaid customer invoices, bills from suppliers and employee salaries. Todd Davison, director at Purbeck Insurance Services, said SMEs “end up borrowing to fill the gap while they wait to get paid”. However, he warned that using finance to resolve cash flow problems is a “double-edged sword” and business owners should first consider operational changes that might resolve short-term problems.

Women in business working through the summer

Just 25 per cent of female small business owners say they will be having a two-week holiday this summer, according to research from Hitachi Capital. Overall, 42 per cent of female entrepreneurs said they couldn’t afford to take a summer holiday this year and 13 per cent said they were too busy to take more than the odd day off from their business. At a time when parents are being stretched by expensive child care costs, it seems female entrepreneurs in the UK are having greater difficulty juggling work and home. Set against the legal requirement for employees to take 20 days off a year, half of all female business owners admitted to taking less than 10 days off in the last 12 months, which was still significantly higher than 30 per cent of small business owners in general.

Trade body demands delay to EU Strong Customer Authentication regulations

A trade body representing several European payments companies has called for an 18-month delay on the EU’s Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) regulations. The slew of new rules due to come into effect on 14 September place greater responsibilities on online merchants and payment providers to verify their users. However the industry has warned that companies are not fully prepared and it could have an adverse effect on the flow of online transactions in Europe. The European Payment Service Providers for Merchants has called for an additional 18-month time frame for “standard applications” of the rules and a 36-month extension for “challenging applications”, such as the travel and hospitality sectors.

Santander opens first small business ‘work cafe’

High-street lender Santander is opening its first ‘work cafe’ in the UK with a site in Leeds offering small businesses and entrepreneurs free co-working spaces and banking facilities. Opening in a former bank branch on 18 July, the cafe will also be open to customers of other banks and aims to create a hub for “nurturing new business ideas and fostering collaboration in a relaxed atmosphere”. While Santander’s first in the UK, the concept was initially developed by the company in Chile in 2016, with around 50 work cafes now operating across Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina.

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News Round-up: UK e-commerce market growth, Stripe looks to Asia, SMEs use finance to improve their cash flow
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