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THE KEYS TO FUTUREPROOFING FOR eCOMMERCE SMBS

Simon Chandramani, VP of Sales Card Processing, Europe at Paysafe

 

It is no secret that online businesses are committed to giving consumers more flexibility. But, as technological evolution drives the world of eCommerce to constantly redesign itself and competition from international market leaders intensifies, it’s harder than ever for online SMBs to remain competitive. Globally, it is believed that eCommerce giants such as Amazon have the financial and human resources required to put themselves at the cutting edge of any industry they choose. Indeed, some suggest they have their eyes fixed on running every small competitor out of business. Those unable to keep pace with the latest innovations in customer experience will inevitably fall away as their market grows.

It is key that eCommerce merchants offer the best experience possible at the checkout. Two ways to ensure this is to offer more payment choice at the checkout, and to maintain the highest levels of payment security while also offering as frictionless an experience as possible on any device.

 

Choice at the checkout is key

Research reveals that online businesses are committed to giving consumers as much flexibility as possible when it comes to their payment methods. Three quarters of businesses agree that offering an increased number of payment methods at the checkout is fundamental for success. This is a clear recognition that the payment ecosystem is fragmenting and consumer payment preferences are diverging away from a reliance on card payment methods to alternative solutions.

 

When surveyed in 2018, online businesses offered an average of four payment methods. However, this was projected to rise to six within two years. The alternative payment methods expected to become more available at the checkout during this period include online cash replacement systems (previously offered by 30% of businesses but anticipated to increase to 45%), in-app mobile payments (which will rise in adoption from 19% to 41%), payments by instalment (projected to grow from 16% to 28%), and subscription payments (which will be offered by 23% of businesses, up from 9%).

The rise in adopting cryptocurrencies was predicted to be the most significant change, growing from just 6% adoption in 2018 to 21% within 24 months.

 

In the age of seamless payments, security is still the priority

Online businesses are aware of the pressure to create a seamless payment experience for their customers. However, over half (52%) of them are also mindful that reducing friction exposes them to a higher risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Many eCommerce SMBs think fraudsters are targeting online businesses at higher rates than previously (74%), and 55% acknowledge that online card fraud is a growing issue for their business. Therefore, it’s not surprising that security (59%) is now the main factor online SMBs take into consideration when choosing which payment service providers (PSPs) to partner with.

 

Increasing the rate of declined transactions is not the solution either, which again is where partnering with a PSP who understands ways to reduce the number of false positives for fraud detection will benefit the business. On average, around one in ten transactions are currently declined (9%), an issue that many SMBs (57%) face, compared to those who view this as a satisfactory price to pay if it has a positive impact in reducing overall fraud (25%).

 

Another factor that is set to have a significant impact on whether online businesses will be able to offer secure, frictionless payments is the introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). This new regulation has the explicit aim of solving this issue i.e. making online payments more secure whilst simultaneously enhancing the customer experience. This will be achieved by using more data points to securely authenticate an online card payment passively and so reduce the number of transactions that need to be authenticated manually, for example with a password.

 

Although the SCA compliance deadline has been delayed in the UK (from September 2019 to March 2021), there is remains an impetus on eCommerce merchants to integrate 3DS2, the new card scheme standards for authenticating card-not-present payments that complies with SCA, as quickly as possible. For eCommerce SMBs, understanding how to do this efficiently is vital to futureproofing.

 

The focus on payment security has always been paramount, but for businesses it has now overtaken all other factors when selecting a PSP. This is a clear response to the growing requirement to implement frictionless payments securely to remain competitive. Most business believe PSPs are responsible for protecting against fraud (81%), however there are difficulties in determining the balance between improving security processes while making the customer experience as seamless as possible. Selecting the correct payments provider is critical in order to overcome this hurdle to future-proofing for an online business. By merchants responding to the demand from customers for greater choice and security when it comes to payment methods, they avoid falling behind delivering and remain competitive ever-changing consumer demands.

 

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Business

WHY 2020 IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR FS MODERNISATION

Chris McLaughlin is chief product and marketing officer at Nuxeo

 

Few would argue against the notion that the UK financial services (FS) industry is facing many challenges as both a new year and new decade begin. Uncertainty over Brexit, the potential threat from new competitors and Big Tech brands, and rising customer expectations are just some of the challenges facing the sector.

But for every challenge, there is also opportunity. Digital banking paves the way for greater service continuity, making it easier for banks to capture and analyse data (with consumers’ permission), reduced repetition of information collection, and delivering more of what customers want in terms of products and services.

By innovating with richer and more convenient online and mobile banking experiences, and by using technology to deliver smarter and more streamlined backend operations, traditional FS providers can roll out and execute services more cost-efficiently too.

But many FS firms have been restricted in their ability to innovate and realise such opportunities, due to the outdated and inefficient systems and applications to be found in many organisations. However, with many FS workers believing that the challenges the industry face could see their company lose customers in 2020, the time is ripe for FS firms to embrace modernisation.

 

Chris McLaughlin

The 2020 agenda according to UK FS workers

Nuxeo recently surveyed 501 UK FS workers that focused on the challenges, concerns, and opportunities facing the industry. The main 2020 FS industry challenges were Brexit uncertainty; cybersecurity threats and information or data breaches; physical branches closing down; the burden of increasing regulation; competition from Big Tech firms potentially moving into FS; and competition from new challenger banks.

Perhaps of most concern to the industry is the fact that 59% of FS workers in the study felt that these challenges left their organisation vulnerable to losing customers over the next 12 months. But there are signs that FS firms are adapting to the new market reality and embracing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) that can help them modernise and address such challenges.

Almost two-thirds of respondents claimed their organisations are committed to innovation, and more than half (58 per cent) believe that firms which use AI in creative ways make for more attractive employers. 68% of respondents say their organisation is already using AI for content search or is in discussion to do so, and 67% say the same for automating backend processes, suggesting that FS firms are alive to the value that can be achieved.

Transforming customer service delivery is also a key focus for AI ambitions, with more than one-third (34 per cent) of respondents saying their organisation is already trying out AI in this context. Chatbots, often used to improve the customer experience, are being used by one-quarter. Meanwhile, 41 per cent are already using AI-based capabilities for some form of data analysis, suggesting that FS providers are attuned to the need to target their activities more strategically.

 

Smarter management of data, content and information

One of the major threats to productivity is the inability for FS firms to connect and organise all the data they have at their disposal and there is a real need for smarter management of data, content and information. Compared to newer industry market entrants, established banks and FS providers have far richer data going back decades or longer. If institutions could tap into this considerable resource, it could be used to distil invaluable intelligence and insights into consumer trends, product performance, and relative account profitability.

Although organisations have all the underlying information stored within their legacy systems, it is typically very difficult for teams to access, combine and cross-analyse this data. This is because, too often, systems are unconnected, use incompatible data formats and feature considerable data duplication between applications.

In the Nuxeo research, FS providers confirm that, on average, they store information and content across nine different systems. And these systems tend to operate in silos: almost three-quarters of respondents say their organisation’s systems are not fully connected with each other.

System users who need to access information as a regular part of their jobs can be spending up to an hour a day (52 minutes) searching for what they need because it is not readily discoverable. Given that this equates to four hours 20 minutes each week per employee spent looking for information, the total time wasted across an organisation over a year is quite significant.

 

Embarking on a managed journey of modernisation

13 per cent of respondents in Nuxeo’s study believe their organisation’s inability to adopt AI quickly enough is one of the main challenges facing UK FS in 2020, so it’s something that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

But a managed modernisation journey, incorporating wider use of AI, which can help address many of the issues that are so concerning to those that work in FS, is already underway for many. Such modernisation can deliver quick wins, without incurring new risk or detracting from other critical work that needs to be done in 2020 and should be embraced wholeheartedly as the FS industry embarks on the new decade.

 

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Business

WHY MAKING MONEY ON YOUR MOBILE IS EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK

Aaron Brooks, Co-Founder of  Vamp

 

For Millennials and Generation Z, becoming a social media influencer is an increasingly desired career. According to a recent study, 86% of millennials want to use their social platforms to post sponsored content. It comes as no surprise. Getting paid to produce content about the products you love, why wouldn’t you?

It’s more than just a pipe dream too. While marketing used to revolve around big brands, employing big agencies to create ads, technological advancements have created a user generated content boom. Thanks to smartphones, most of us now have a 12 megapixel camera in our pockets. Brands have capitalised on this, launching campaigns that harvest user generated content, asking their customers to share their brand experiences through pictures, videos and reviews.

Social networks have normalised the sharing of content, which has helped propel this movement further. ASOS’ UGC hashtag #AsSeenOnMe has over a million entries on Instagram. Then of course there’s Apple’s incredible ‘Shot on an iPhone’ billboards, which use their user’s images to promote their phones.

Aaron Brooks

Influencer marketing takes this a step further. These social creators produce high-end content and have engaged followings – both a valuable commodities for brands. 93% of marketers now using influencer marketing. So if you’re looking to make your mark as a content creator, there are plenty of opportunities. Don’t be put off if your Instagram following isn’t in the high thousands either. Micro influencers, with their small but highly engaged audiences, have become popular among marketers and this trend will continue to grow in 2020.

Of course, brands want high-quality content to represent their brand, but if you’re keen to kick start your creator career and start making money, a smart phone and a creative eye is a good place to start. If you want to take it further, then follow these three tips for success.

 

Hone your personal brand

Rather than trying to be fashion, art, foodie and travel all in one neat package, find a niche and create a consistent message. The same goes for photography styles. If you want to be the flatlay expert, I’d recommend sticking to that at least 80% of the time.

Finding your niche and making it your hallmark will let people know what they can expect from you. It’ll make you more likely to maintain follower loyalty and help you to stand out from the crowd. Make sure it’s of genuine interest to you. You’ll need enough enthusiasm to post consistently in order to build your authority in that area.

 

Cultivate an engaged following

While a high follower count was once the most prized possession of the influencer community, times have changed. These days if you want the attention of big name brands, not only do you need a beautiful feed, but a highly engaged following. That means people who follow you, spend time with your content and engage with it.

Actively engaging with your existing audience and contributing to the larger Instagram community will help you build relationships on Instagram. This means replying with genuine

comments and pro-actively engaging by offering your own comments on other accounts.

While it might be tempting to take shortcuts by buying fake engagement or followers, it will only sabotage your efforts. Software has become increasingly effective at spotting fakes so chances are, you’ll be found out and blacklisted.

 

Maximise influencer marketing platforms

Once you’ve honed your personal brand and cultivated an engaged following, you can begin making money on your mobile. Rather than waiting for these opportunities to find you, you can take a proactive approach and join an influencer marketing platform.

These technology services connect brands with content creators. Depending on the platform, it may have a database of thousands of pre-vetted influencers who have opted-in to receive content collaboration briefs from brands. You’ll get opportunities delivered direct to your mobile and will be able to choose whether you opt in or not. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to work with brands that truly resonate with you and balance the work around other commitments.

With brands constantly searching for people who boast content creation skills, there are plenty of career opportunities in the influencer space. For those looking to make money in this space, all you will need is a smart phone, passion and creativity to begin carving a career as an influencer.

 

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