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LOOKING BEYOND THE PAYMENTS PRICE TAG

payments

Rob Straathof, CEO, Liberis

 

In the face of tough competition, cutting costs often seems like the quickest and easiest option for standing out in the market and winning customers. However, while slashing prices may make sense in the short term it is a huge risk to a business’s long term health as it ignores the need for sustainability. Add to this the high likelihood that competitors will start to catch on and cut their prices to keep up and soon any competitive advantage is lost. The race to the bottom is an age-old problem that we, as financial professionals are all too familiar with. Yet time and again we all fall into the trap, particularly when it comes to dealing with our small business customers.

With this cost-cutting mindset, it is no wonder that in sectors that compete almost exclusively on price end up with a high churn rate. One such area is the provisioning of payment solutions for small business customers. Over time, this can seriously threaten the profitability of a payment provider as the cost of acquiring and replacing small business customers is expensive. With price often being the only differentiating factor though between payment providers, customers have little reason to remain loyal as long as the service works. Ultimately what happens behind the scenes of a transaction is of little interest to a small business owner. To counteract this, payment providers must ingrain themselves more into the operations of a small business and act as a critical component to its success.

 

Easier said than done

Nonetheless, the reason that we all too often fall into a race to the bottom is that becoming ingrained into small business operations is far easier said than done. Yet, it can be made easier via the help of partnerships. The growth and innovation in the alternative financing sector coupled with open banking legislation have opened the door for fintech partners to use existing data from payment providers to pull valuable customer insights. Data is often an underused resource for many businesses as it can be hard to sort through and even know where to start! This is particularly the case for payment providers as they often hold so much data, it can be a real challenge. This is where fintech partners can help. For example, technology platforms can now identify how much a small business customer generates and when their busiest times are. Identifying and using these data points can be the start of developing a powerful value-added service.

So, once a payment provider has selected and been fully set up with the right fintech partner, they can begin to tap into specific pain points facing small businesses and look to address these issues. One issue, in particular, that is often the biggest pain points for small businesses is the access to funding. In fact, recent research has shown that less than a quarter of small businesses feel credit was readily available in 2018. With the pressure of increased business rates, rising wages and late payments, the need for extra funding has never been greater for nearly 6 million businesses in the UK. Couple this with the fact that traditional banks are reluctant to offer smaller loans due to their unprofitability and the struggle to keep afloat is very much an everyday fight for many small businesses.

 

Realising the potential

Payment providers can therefore not only help small businesses keep afloat but also reduce their own customer churn by offering funding products that meet and fit the needs of small businesses. In doing so, payment providers will no longer be competing over price and can instead differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Furthermore, by reviewing historic customer data, fintech partnerships can even enable payment providers to offer small businesses pre-approved funding. This not only makes it more likely that a small business will take up funding, but also helps position payment providers as being more of a partner and less of a line on a bank statement.

Thanks to the introduction of open banking and the rise of fintechs and data analytics technologies, payments providers have a huge opportunity to end their price war. Partnering with innovative fintechs that understand the needs of small businesses, how to use payment data while also being quick and easy to connect to existing systems providers is a powerful market differentiator. It’s time for the price war to end and better products and services to be offered to our small business community.

 

Business

THE EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL COST OF WORKING WITH OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY

technology

Slow Tech Could Waste 24 Hours of Worktime a Year

In this digital age, businesses are hugely reliant on technology to get work done. And this is especially the case for one-man-bands and small home-based businesses who may count on a single computer to keep things running smoothly from their home office space.

This said, if the technology at hand is slow or outdated, it could become more of a hinderance than a help. Investing in upgraded tech may seem like a steep expense, however, delays cost time and time is money. In fact, recent research looking at the impact of tech troubles in the workplace found that delays caused by slow technology could add up to a hefty 24 days’ worth of worktime a year per person.

Here’s why keeping hold of outdated tech when its past its best could cost your business in the long run.

 

The biggest tech hold-ups

Delving deeper into the research, it’s evident that the most time can be lost on some of the smallest of tasks. Simply waiting for your computer to boot up, for example, can add up to 8.8 days of lost time over the space of a year (17 minutes a day), while 8.5 days can be lost to opening emails (16.5 minutes a day).  Slow software has the most to answer for, however, contributing 10.4 days’ worth of wasted worktime (20 minutes a day). When you think about your own day rate or that of an employee’s, this lost time all adds up to some serious money, right? Probably more than it would cost to upgrade your tech.

Productivity can suffer too

Glitchy tech may not only cost your business time and money; productivity can take a serious hit too. According to the study, a third of workers admit losing motivation when they have to wait on tech to respond. And this comes as no surprise. When faced with freezing programmes and buffering browsers every day, frustration can build up. And when someone’s suffering frustration, productivity and motivation can drop. As a result, it may turn out it’s not just the tech that is slowing down tasks, but a reduction in employee efficiency too.

Tech expert and anti-futurist, Theo Priestley, argues that the issues caused by outdated tech at work can even have a negative effect on someone’s work-life balance and wellbeing. He explains, “not being able to complete work or feel productive or have a sense of accomplishment in a task can be a stressful experience. And depending on the nature of the work, more often than not, employees will need to work additional hours to compensate for the wasted time, which has a knock-on impact on personal and family life.”

 

Outdated tech can put your business at risk

Beyond the costs to your business, outdated tech can also put it at increased risk of cybercrime. The older the technology, the easier it is for hackers to exploit it. What’s more, if you don’t update your security software regularly, it won’t be equipped to address the latest security threats.

Priestley explains “outdated technology and software means easy exploitation from inside and outside the organisation. If you’re not using the latest versions of operating systems, or software that you’ve invested in, then there’s greater chance for someone to exploit known weaknesses in that system and expose or steal data or valuable company information from them.”

 

What is the solution?

Regularly assess what condition your hardware and software are in and where delays are occurring. If you find yourself waiting on the same problem day in day out, it’s probably time to do something about it. But how often should you be upgrading your IT equipment?

In general, a computer being used for business could do with being upgraded every two to three years for optimal performance. Alternatively, sometimes simply upgrading the memory or hard drive can help applications run more quickly. Any other equipment such as printers, keyboards, etc. only really need to be replaced when they break.

As for software, upgrade it regularly. While it can be a temptation to stick with older versions that you’ve grown accustomed to, the newer versions will offer improved capabilities, efficiency and security.

While computers slowing down over time seems inevitable and something that we’ve accepted will happen, it’s important for businesses to recognise the problem can have a bigger knock-on effect than you may think. By investing in updated, efficient technology, the savings experienced via productivity are likely to vastly outweigh the price of the tech itself. So, next time your computer freezes, perhaps consider whether it’s time for an upgrade.

 

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Business

OFFSHORE COMPANY FORMATION TACTICS FOR SMEs

Company

James Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little

 

Starting a business brings with it its own set of challenges, as well as opportunities. But when setting up a business, the where is often as important as the how, and knowing what to expect in terms of company formation regulations and requirements is key, so you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.

 

James Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little, takes us through what we need to consider when it comes to offshore company formation, and the benefits it can offer start-ups and SMEs.

 

“Despite what the media will have you believe, there are numerous legitimate reasons to use an offshore company. Offshore companies can often provide SMEs with access to better infrastructure and legal frameworks. Regulations in different parts of the world could prove to be restrictive for businesses by preventing foreign entities from launching factories, buying property or investing in local companies. In this instance, setting up an offshore company can help in completing transactions and provide you with the ability to hold any local assets necessary,” says James.

 

“However, one of the fundamental reasons for setting up an offshore company is often privacy. Moving assets or setting up a business is often done in a country that offers more tightly protected data security, has a robust legal framework and a network of service providers that streamline the setting up process. Switzerland is often the country of choice when it comes to privacy, as it’s synonymous with security and data privacy. Another reason SMEs should consider setting up an offshore company is tax efficiency. Tax advantages are offered by different jurisdictions. For example, Singapore has one of the lowest corporate tax rates, while the Cayman Islands might be more ideal for freelancers who are looking to minimise the effective tax rate on their businesses,” adds James.

 

“Offshore companies provide SMEs with the ability to mitigate risks that arise from political instability or currency volatility. We have already seen businesses starting to register European entities in order to limit their exposure to the fallout that may result from Brexit. Whatever the reason, spreading your operations across jurisdictions may be the best long-term business strategy SMEs can adopt to secure future growth,” adds James.

 

Turner Little specialises in creating bespoke solutions for individuals and businesses of all sizes. The knowledge and expertise of their specialists will be able to assist with any enquires, no matter how complex.

 

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