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RISE IN E-COMMERCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IS A BIGGER RISK THAN JUST STOCK CONTROL

  • With consumer confidence in the high street at an all-time low, many SME shops and businesses have moved to online retail
  • Online retail sales rose by record 19.7% between April and May 2020
  • SMEs lack of IT knowledge, experience and skills could lead to potential online dangers from hackers obtaining personal data and fraudsters posing as you.

 

The high street, having already suffered a dramatic decrease in popularity, has struggled to return to pre-COVID sales figures, but is showing some signs of improvement. When non-essential shops were forced to close during lockdown, consumers were forced online.

For some SMEs this was devastating for their retail outlets and businesses. However keen entrepreneurs were driven to adjust their businesses to survive this crisis and technology became their saviour. According to the ONS Monthly Business Survey for May 2020[1], online retail for all sectors rose by 19.7% in May compared to April 2020, for many reaching this market was the only way to save their businesses. A staggering 85,000 stores appearing online in the three months to July 2020. However, business owners are being urged to review their online presence considering security issues posed with ecommerce trading.

ILUX, a leading IT systems, support and service company has been looking at the potential implications of inexperienced company owners launching their online presence. James Tilbury, managing director comments: “The pandemic and the lockdown has been the biggest pressure any company owner is likely to ever face. Even with the government support available, many would not have survived this time without shifting focus and identifying what can be done to save their business. Ecommerce offers endless opportunities, nationally and even internationally, to grow your business from a small shop or two, to a profitable and effective online store. But it does not come without risks.”

Worryingly, 32% of SMEs have been the target of cyber scams or malware with half of 5,000 SMEs surveyed by Sage[i], worried about their business being at a bigger risk since going online. However, only 6% would be investing in additional security.

ILUX, after reading these statistics, have realised some small business need some IT education. The company has produced some top tips to improve online security – for some immediate peace of mind. As a small business, the reputational and financial impact of a situation like a data breach will be destructive for a business, no matter how stable you think you are.

 

UNDERSTANDING DATA THAT SHOULD NOT BE SHARED

As a smaller business you may be working with just a few members of staff, but it is essential that they know what data is sensitive and what should not be shared. Training your staff could prevent internal data breaches, especially when it comes to GDPR (UK-GDPR from 2021). If your ecommerce site is hosted on Shopify, this data would be protected and should not be downloaded or shared.

 

SECURITY PROTECTION AND UPDATES ON LOCAL COMPUTERS

Although this is common sense, it is disturbing how many companies have out-of-date and even obsolete security software on their local computers. All anti-virus and malware software should be updated regularly. If a company has multiple devices in various locations, owners should set a reminder to ensure staff are checking for updates and make sure all software, when installed, is set to perform them automatically. Invest in trusted and quality products, you will get what you pay for, using a free platform when you are handling personal data is not recommended.

 

ENCRYPTION

Encrypt all your sensitive data at rest and in transit. Use of encryption allows only those with access to decrypt the contents of the file that has been converted using a special “key”. This means that even emails which are sent to other parties with personal data in them, or when you are uploading shipping address details to couriers, they are safe from anyone trying to intercept the data.

 

CYBER ESSENTIALS

Cyber Essentials is a simple but effective, Government backed scheme that will help you to protect your organisation, whatever its size, against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks. Certification gives you peace of mind that your defences will protect against most common cyber-attacks – simply because these attacks are looking for targets without Cyber Essentials technical controls in place.

 

HOUSEKEEPING

As mentioned above, updates are essential for all software. Consider two-step verification too – to provide that extra layer of security. Encourage your staff to update localised passwords frequently – monthly is acceptable. Educate staff on identifying harmful emails – do not follow links or enter account information on anything received in an email. Ensure all networked passwords are secure and impossible to predict – change them regularly and only allow single person access per machine. Audit your systems regularly, and where you can, use external sources to review and monitor the company systems – the extra set of eyes can make all the difference.

James continues: “Online security should be risk assessed at the earliest convenience. If a small business owner has rushed to complete their transition to online, now is the time to sit back and analyse how robust those systems are. It is not as simple as logging into a Shopify account for instance – careful consideration is essential for all devices – whether that is PCs, laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones that handle any data. A customer data breach could be a costly exercise for the business – not just the financial implications, but this could become legal and involve larges fines for the business. Either way it will be detrimental to the business’ reputation. I would advise that all SMEs who are now selling online to bring in an external, professional and specialist set of eyes to overhaul your systems and protect you for the future.”

Businesses who have delved into ecommerce – and are concerned about the systems that have in place – are welcome to contact ILUX – they will be able to discuss the minimum requirements and offer some insight and support.

 

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GALA TECHNOLOGY SELECTS NUAPAY TO ENABLE OPEN BANKING PAYMENTS

Nuapay, powered by Sentenial, today announces it has been chosen by Gala Technology, a payment security solution specialist, to provide Open Banking payments to its partner network and direct merchants across multiple sectors including retail, hospitality, and financial services.

Gala Technology’s multi-award winning SOTpay ‘Pay-by-link’ solution simplifies PCI DSS requirements and protects merchants against the ever-growing risk of fraud by ensuring that the transactions are authenticated, shifting liability and often lowering acquiring processing costs. SOTpay’s integration with Nuapay’s Open Banking platform now enables them to process non-card payments.

Nuapay’s FCA-licenced Open Banking payments service enables Gala Technology’s partners and merchants to accept payments via any sales channel of choice, including telephone, web chat, SMS and social media. It can do this without requesting sensitive card data, which ensures SCA compliance and eliminates fraudulent chargebacks.

“The capabilities of Open Banking have become more apparent in 2020 as merchants have been forced to explore alternative contactless, mobile and ecom-friendly payment methods that can be accessed quickly and are lower in processing costs, due to a need to respond to change brought by Covid-19.” shares Nick Raper, Head of UK at Nuapay. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gala Technology, as we  have a shared drive to eradicate payment fraud. This partnership will help to increase widespread adoption of live bank transfer payments as SOTPay gives us an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate Open Banking payments’ usability and benefits to new audiences.”

Nuapay is one of the only PISPs which offers a fully inclusive open banking payment initiation, webhook notification and payment account solution; which quickens checkouts, speed-up access to cash flow, reduces processing costs, and enables full reconciliation and batch settlements of transactions. Gala Technology’s customers now have access to new payment innovation and will be able to perform refunds or make instant payouts.

 

Steven Jones, Commercial Director at Gala Technology, said: “We chose to work with Nuapay as their complete Account-2-Account payments capabilities and high customer service levels are unparalleled. Looking forward, Nuapay’s presence within the UK and Europe will greatly help us reach new clients and will extend our service offerings to existing clients too. Nuapay’s Open Banking payments solutions help us to provide a better service; in turn, the time, money and resources our customers save will enable them to focus on growing their businesses in a more profitable way.”

Nuapay’s PISP processor has a single connection to all major banks in the UK and a growing number of connections across Europe, ensuring that Gala Technology’s clients’ payments will be supported, no matter where their customers bank.

 

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THE EMBEDDED BENEFITS IN ESEF DIGITAL FINANCIAL REPORTING

The inclusion of a simple link delivers serious gains in transparency, trust and real time verifiability for the whole financial ecosystem. It’s another digital feather in the LEI’s hat, explains Stephan Wolf, CEO, Global LEI Foundation.

 

In a battle for significance, no other public facing business document can match the annual financial report. It is the document that a public corporation must, by law, publish to describe its operations and financial condition, and to chronicle its activities over the past twelve months. Shareholders, investors and the wider financial ecosystem make innumerable strategic and operational decisions based on its contents.

In today’s digital age, then, it is little surprise that the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has mandated that annual financial reports published from the start of 2020 follow a consistent digital configuration, known as the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) and, in them, embed their Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).

Stephan Wolf

On first glance, the ESEF format appears to be designed to drive financial report production into a convenient paperless form factor. While this is both true and highly commendable, an ocean of additional potential is revealed by ESMA’s insistence that corporations embed their LEI. This mandate will heighten transparency, enhance trust, and provide instant and non-repudiable verification that the organisation filing the report is, indeed, who they claim to be. These far-reaching benefits are all enabled by the report linking to the filing entity’s verified LEI reference data held within the Global LEI Index.

The simple process of embedding an organization’s LEI  – or, indeed, that of its affiliates, subsidiaries and parent companies – within an ESEF financial report means that regulators, investors, traders and other financial stakeholders, can consolidate and verify information on the filing entity faster and more conveniently than ever before.

LEI reference data includes business card information on an entity, including name and registered address, together with relationship data which confirms if the entity owns, or is owned by, other entities. This increased transparency relative to an entity’s ownership structure means that relationship networks between LEIs can be quickly and automatically established, since the LEIs of the filing entity, its affiliates, subsidiaries and parent companies are all provided in the new machine-readable ESEF format. Usefully, because the reference data is reverified annually by GLEIF accredited LEI issuers, it is always accurate and up-to-date. The net result is a substantially more useful document for end users, which is also verifiably trustworthy, authentic and integral.

ESMA has published the Global LEI Foundation’s 2019 annual report on its website to provide a best practice example of a report published in the ESEF format, which other preparers can reference. The report is published in human and machine-readable Inline XBRL and HTML formats, with LEIs embedded within both the annual report and the digital certificates of the report’s signing executive officers. The combination of these two features provides something completely unprecedented: instantly available, digitally verifiable credentials that confirm both the authenticity of document and the key individuals responsible for its content.1

Beyond the single report, the LEI embedding process creates broader opportunities for the financial ecosystem. Aggregating information on companies from multiple sources is dramatically simplified, making the job of comparing standardized financial information both faster and easier. This can be accomplished either manually, by ‘clicking through’ to view the LEI reference data, or via an automated process, saving yet more time and eliminating the risk of human error. In time, this level of facility will lead to the automated creation of online databases that use the linked LEIs to collate key data assets, to the benefit of, frankly, any person or organization that has interest, globally.

The mandatory embedding of LEIs in financial reports is just one demonstration of this technology’s transformative potential. In broader terms, not only is the LEI shoring up the digital financial ecosystem, it is helping to stabilize the evolution of the world’s digital economy. It is no exaggeration to say that the LEI, together with the Global LEI System, solves the problem of trust for legal entities worldwide. It is the only open, commercially neutral, standardized and regulatory endorsed system capable of establishing digitized trust between all legal entitles, everywhere. It was conceived and designed as a public good, and can be deployed without charge in a wide – and growing – variety of digital use-cases. Put simply, the more it is utilized, the more good it will do.

 

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