Nearly 600,000 startups were founded last year, joining the ranks of over five million small businesses already established in the UK. While the country is well and truly in the grip of a startup revolution, when it comes to banking the UK's diverse new businesses are finding that one size doesn't necessarily fit all.
While most established banks have dedicated financial services for small businesses, startups are often not so well catered for. Typically, accounts pitched at new businesses – whether they're accounts specifically aimed at startups or services offered under a general ‘small business’ umbrella – come with a brief 'fee free' period, before monthly charges kick in.
For those startups that find their turnover exceeding a certain threshold, those fees can increase sharply. And startups requiring anything out of the ordinary run of banking services, such as receiving payments from clients outside the UK, may find their account isn't set up to accommodate those different needs – or can only handle them with a high fee attached.
For startups that don't want to see their ambitions limited by their bank, there is another way: a financial services solution that offers both flexibility and affordability. Electronic payments have much of the same functionality as startup bank accounts, but are typically better configured to meet the needs of agile, responsive startups, especially those addressing international markets.
Getting set up with an account is usually swift and painless, meaning startups won't be hanging around while their bank account plays catch up with them. And as electronic payments are set up to be entirely digital, there's no waiting around at a branch for awkward conversations with the manager about credit history.
For startups in their early days, money can be tight; electronic payments give startups greater clarity into the financial processes going on within their businesses. Fees are always transparent.
Electronic payments allow startups to make and receive payments – either from other electronic payments cards and accounts, or from banks and building societies more generally – as well as withdraw cash from ATMs. Electronic payments also provide a streamlined way for startups to offer merchant services on their website, meaning they can start taking orders online from day one. And, for startups with multiple employees on board, electronic payments can also be set up to deal with mass payouts, such as the monthly payroll.
Electronic payments are particularly well-suited to companies that are looking for international suppliers or who are keen to do business abroad as well as at home. By using electronic payments, for example, startups can get themselves a virtual EU IBAN: a bank account number that enables them to receive payments in euros without the need for a European bank account. And, since payments are conducted over SEPA the reconciliation is done overnight , so there are no delays with invoices that need to be paid.
Electronic payments have integration with other popular e-wallets, giving customers another way to conduct transactions with foreign suppliers and customers. For example, integration with Qiwi or Yandex can make it easier to do business in Russia and beyond.
While electronic payments are perfect for any size of organisation, they're a great tool for startup companies in particular, giving young businesses and small businesses the financial freedom to think big.