By Devin de Vries, CEO, WhereIsMyTransport
UK commuters are bracing for a series of disruptions to the rail service this month as rail workers kicked off a month of strikes over pay and conditions. About 40,000 rail workers from the UK’s biggest rail union, the RMT, are striking until January 8, 2023, over conditions that they have labelled as “substandard”.
The effects of the strikes on the UK rail system are expected to be exacerbated by the worsening weather conditions, with some parts of the UK experiencing more than 10 cm of snow, causing widespread chaos and power cuts.
While around 40,000 rail workers are expected to strike, other sectors are not exempt with more than 20,000 ambulance workers expected to strike in a dispute over pay. Hospitals are also expected to face strike action, with nurses from The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) striked for the first time on December 15 and 20 in the UK and will strike again on January 18 and 19.
While these disruptions in the UK have made headlines and caused inconvenience to commuters over the last few weeks, the level of disruptions are minimal compared to the daily disruption and inefficiency faced in many emerging markets across the developing world.
In Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s bustling commercial capital, commuters are estimated to spend about three hours a day in transit, often on congested and poorly kept roads. It was reported that residents in the city of about five million people are turning to growing fleets of boats to escape the worsening road traffic.
It is estimated that about 100,000 people travel by boat across the city’s lagoon system to escape the disruptions and congestion experienced on Abidjan’s roads. The state wants to see these numbers increase to 300,000 commuters a day over the next five years and increase the number of modern boats in operation from 50 to 200 over the period.
While in South Africa, research by the Gauteng department of roads and transport found that nearly 35% of respondents spent more than an hour a day commuting in their cars in the economic hub of Johannesburg. Traffic congestion and disruptions saw commuters making use of buses in the City of Ekurhuleni spend nearly two and a half hours a day commuting.
Elsewhere in the world, cities such as Istanbul in Turkey, Bogota in Colombia, and Mumbai in India see commuters lose more than 120 hours a year due to congestion and disruptions on public roads. India’s road networks have grown about 30% over the last 10 years, but during the same period the country has seen an almost threefold increase in new vehicle registrations.
But despite these disruptions, inroads are being made in creating more reliable and environmentally friendly transport alternatives. Technology has played a major role in social good in the transportation sector, with companies across the world embracing shared mobility. The rise of transport solutions in the form of bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters are admirable attempts to reduce congestion, pollution, and physical inactivity on public roads.
Although much has been done to develop more environmentally friendly and reliable transport, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that the world needs about 2 billion electric vehicles to get the global transport industry to net zero. To address the climate challenge and provide more reliable transport in countries that experience regular disruptions, emerging markets are encouraged to embrace the roll-out of electric buses and electric two-wheeled and three-wheeled vehicles.
The WEF found that electric buses that cover long distances with high occupancy rates would be an attractive option for governments grappling with improving basic public transport and decarbonization.
The WEF and the World Bank have been working with a number of countries including India and Colombia on pilot projects to explore the use of electric buses and electric cargo bikes. These projects are building on the successes already seen in places like Santiago, Chile, where the country has already invested in 800 electric buses with further investments still coming. e-Buses are seen as an integral component to Chile’s plans to become fully carbon-neutral by 2050 according to the WEF.
While some countries are slowly embracing the use of technology in the transport sector to reduce disruptions and time spent on the roads, other companies are trying to tackle the problem head-on.
At WhereIsMyTransport, we’re helping commuters and businesses move forwards despite congestion and disruptions, combining public transport network data and real-time alerts to improve journey experiences for commuters, and improve understanding of high-growth markets for investors.
We are fully cognizant of the inconvenience caused by the disruptions in the UK. But it is also important to remember that while these are only temporary delays and inconveniences, in many parts of the world disruption is the daily reality for millions of commuters. With the right data, applied effectively, it is possible to change this, so that cities across emerging markets can thrive and keep moving to ensure long term, sustainable growth.
E-commerce marketplaces have become more than third-party platforms
By Luke Trayfoot, CRO, MANGOPAY
E-commerce marketplaces have become an essential driver of e-commerce growth. As found by Ascential in their annual Future of Marketplaces Report, by 2027, third-party sellers using marketplaces will capture 59% of global e-commerce sales. A trend accelerated by the pandemic. Marketplaces are helping more brands cater to the ever-changing needs of consumers.
As businesses are continually being challenged to provide a seamless shopping experience, marketplaces can support this venture. Without the added costs of warehousing, supply chain and logistics for additional products, marketplaces can help to alleviate some of those pressures, especially as consumer demand grows.
Now, marketplaces need to further evolve their offering through payments infrastructure, whilst remaining compliant with payment regulations.
The marketplace offering – lowering barriers to entry
Beyond access to the best deals, seamless checkout and quick deliveries, marketplaces also exceed consumer expectations for an intuitive one-stop shopping experience. Through marketplaces, retailers can continue to evolve their proposition, collecting data on what their customers want and need and continually refining their offerings at the right time and in the right place (web/app).
Marketplaces can also support businesses entering new markets or competing with bigger players in their respective fields. Entering a marketplace network allows small businesses to quickly gain influence, benefiting from larger audiences and quickly generating high sales volumes.
With multiple sellers, many with an international presence, implementing a sophisticated payments environment is much more complex than building one for an e-commerce website. Trading globally has different rules and regulations to adhere to per country which means payments environments must be multi-layered, accepting various forms of payments, which can be an inhibitor to businesses scaling at pace. Marketplace’s innate customer-centredness must be maintained end to end, including the purchase journey, so a sophisticated environment is essential.
Building the right payments environment
A crucial part of the customer experience, it is important that merchants provide a choice of payment methods at checkout. As payments have evolved, marketplace operators should consider what options they provide to sellers, and subsequently, their end consumers.
The number one expectation is of course payment security, which is a key step in building a long-term relationship based on trust. Increased control points, however, generally means more friction being introduced into the payment process, so this is a balancing act.
As the retail landscape continues to grow, so does competition and as new players enter the market, businesses must find new ways to innovate, and the creation of payment options is one of the most important avenue to do so.
Considering regulation at every step
Increased marketplace activity has led to the introduction of regulation for the platform economy. In the UK, HMRC has implemented changes to VAT reporting requirements for digital marketplaces and their third-party sellers, especially for overseas sales. Across Europe, KYC (Know Your Customers) regulations intended to protect customers from data breaches on a marketplace and identify the persons (legal or natural) with whom the marketplace does business, as part of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing directives, have also been enacted.
As online platforms continue to play an increasingly significant role, the implementation of the Digital Services Act supports creating a safer, online experience for citizens. This regulation enables the expression of ideas, communication, and online shopping by reducing exposure to illegal activities and dangerous goods. Regulation can seem extremely daunting, especially for those looking to enter the market. However, its purpose is to protect both the business and users.
Marketplaces need to work with payment infrastructure specialists that can support providing methods for local users, as well as options that are familiar and trustworthy for a global audience. Additional flexibility also needs to be built in to adapt to different demographics to ensure that a variety of consumers are appropriately catered for. If a brand wants to establish itself in a new market, varied payment methods are not a nice to have, but a must.
Despite the current economic climate, global e-commerce will continue to grow in the years ahead. Those that will be able to stay ahead of the curve will ensure that their customers’ experience is balanced with greater choice and varied payment options, in tandem with regulatory compliance.
The trends to expect in the future of work in 2023 through the lens of a CFO
By Eliran Glazer, CFO at monday.com
Not a week goes by without significant evolution in the world of work. The landscape is continuously evolving and these shifts can be analysed from many different perspectives..As it has been in recent years, the position of the CFO will continue to be paramount in spearheading essential business initiatives, communicating with employees and other stakeholders, and ensuring cross-company alignment and advancement. However, how will the role of the CFO evolve in 2023 and what can those involved in financial decisions expect in 2023?
CEO and CFO alignment is crucial for success in 2023
CEOs and CFOs know a company’s success can only occur when they work in tandem to improve organisational performance for sustainable growth. To continue to expand, the CEO and CFO will work together more closely than ever to guarantee company operation, efficiency, resiliency and guidance throughout times of transition.
With the market changing at a rapid speed, organisational agility is vital for continued success. When the CEO and CFO are closely aligned, they bring their areas of expertise to the table to drive crucial strategic decisions together so the organisation can adapt to a changing economic landscape.
This is even more applicable in the current macroeconomic environment and geopolitical tension, when every business decision has a significant financial weight. With 70% of boards of directors looking to accelerate digital business endeavours and strategies, finance leaders will have an integral role when it comes to ensuring sustainable company growth.
Investments in digital tech is paramount this year
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, teams have taken a more dynamic and digitised approach in collaboration to address remote work, across time zones, between offices and at home. For 2023, corporations should expect to see further investment in digital technology that will enable teams to have a more harmonised approach to the digital workforce. Finance leaders will play a substantial role in implementing the processes and structure by identifying the right tech tools needed for this approach. Due to this, CFOs must now be aware of the need to adopt digital technology to drive efficiency.
Based on research from a Gartner survey that polled CFOs in July 2022, 66% said they planned to expand their investment in digital technology in the next 12 months. Additionally,another 32% said they would uphold such spending – the most significant percentage of any spend category. To best serve hybrid workers, businesses will need to enhance not only the customer experience but also their employee experience and satisfaction through the support of dynamic and digital collaboration tools.
Proactivity & transparency in this era of change
During this unpredictable economic climate, proactivity and transparency from finance leaders are key for making decisions that are data-driven and staying agile. To stay agile, CFOs must actively drive collaboration and partnering across functions to position the enterprise to respond to the challenges. This requires finance leaders to ensure that employees are kept in the loop of strategic decisions pertaining to the company. This can only be done by regular updates to the employees about the company’s range of projected scenarios for the upcoming months and any planning adjustments.
To ensure success and resiliency in combatting today’s challenges, finance leaders must be proactive and transparent when conveying the business landscape. It is crucial that CFOs set realistic expectations and break down concepts so that they are well understood and clear for all employees within the company. Educating employees about financial jargon alongside the state of the global economy will also help them find their footing in these challenging times.
2023 marks a milestone in the evolution of a CFO
While 2023 may seem challenging for CFOs with this great responsibility, they have a unique opportunity to make a significant and positive impact. What is most important for a company to overcome the challenges in 2023 is how flexible and nimble they can be, which requires the CFO to be a crucial player in the company’s growth during these times.
The scope of the role of CFOs has changed over the years. It is no longer solely on how to scale a business, but rather how to focus on the efficiency within that growth. To facilitate opportunities, the role of finance leaders will continue to expand this year. By identifying ways in which the CFO role can produce results, support, and even lead other parts of the company, will stimulate more collaboration, communication, and, ultimately, success.
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