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What counts as cryptoasset trading? 

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Sean Hill, manager, and Sam Goodsell, partner, at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP 

The wild west days of cryptoassets may well be coming to an end and with HMRC’s latest updates to their cryptoasset manual in February 2022. This update offers advice on the tax treatment of cryptoassets, that will allow traders, to organise their digital assets in the most efficient way possible. But does the new guidance go far enough?  

 A common misconception when filing tax returns is what is defined as ‘trading.’ In everyday parlance it means to buy and sell goods or services. However, when it comes to cryptoassets, HMRC state in the manual that only in exceptional circumstances would they expect individuals to buy and sell exchange tokens with such frequency, level of organisation and sophistication that the activity amounts to a financial trade.  

Typically, when a cryptoasset, such as a non-fungible token (NFT), is bought and then sold, the seller would be liable for capital gains tax on any gains generated on the sale.  These would need to be considered alongside gains related to the ownership of other assets, such as property or shares, for example.  If an individual has acquired or invested in a cryptoasset for the purpose of profiting in the future, then HMRC would most likely categorise this as an investment, which would be liable for capital gains tax. However, if an individual or business is involved in the creation, minting and initial sale of an NFT(s), this will be treated as a ‘Trade’ and subject to income tax. 

Sean Hill And Sam Goodsell

To help clarify matters, HMRC’s Cryptoassets Manual provides detailed and comprehensive guidance, and links to additional resources. However, for someone unfamiliar with self-assessment tax forms, it may be too dense and confusing. The manual uses examples to help illustrate specific points, but these are unlikely to match an individual trader’s situation exactly. Each trader should start with a list of their transactions and work out how the guidance relates to them, rather simply selecting the most beneficial tax regime.   

To complement the Cryptoassets Manual, HMRC also has a manual which outlines the ‘9 badges of trade’ to assist in defining trading activity.  These badges include a profit-seeking motive, the number of transactions that occur and the way the sale is carried out. By using the nine badges as a checklist, asset owners can identify whether their transactions constitute trading or not. In cases of ambiguity the decision lies with HMRC, however, there is a process in place to appeal if the asset owner disagrees. In these cases, businesses should consider consulting a professional, as they will be able to identify the necessary records and evidence to argue their case.   

Individuals trading cryptoassets should ensure that they keep detailed records of transactions as they go, which can be presented to professionals at the end of the tax year. Every time funds are exchanged between different types of cryptocurrency, for example, Bitcoin to Ethereum, it counts as a chargeable event. This is because this transaction is treated for tax purposes as a disposal of an asset and the acquisition of a new asset. The number of chargeable events could affect how much tax is owed.  

Traders who are making a high volume of transactions should also seek specialist advice. Most tax professionals will consult or work closely with a software provider that automatically keeps track of transactions with the client’s permission, streamlining tax declarations at the end of the year. This means that the transactions will not have to be manually calculated, which could be a time-consuming and expensive process. Tax advisors will need access to all digital wallets and other accounts where cryptocurrencies are stored.  

As the guidance from HMRC is relatively new, there are still ‘grey’ areas that are open to interpretation. For example, cryptoassets can be converted from one format to another, which is known as a ‘bridging transaction’. There is still some debate whether bridging transactions, for example between Ethereum and Wrapped Ethereum, represent a chargeable event. Although at present this transaction is treated as a disposal for capital gains tax purposes and can give rise to a tax liability. 

While the manual is helpful, it is likely to be confusing to a non-professional. Traders who want to calculate their own tax liability, based on the information provided, would be advised to get this reviewed and approved by a tax specialist. This is particularly important where a large volume of transactions has taken place or individual transactions have a high value, as it will give a greater certainty over the final tax liability. Traders can be certain that regulation in this area will increase in the future, as the HMRC learns more about the world of cryptoassets and the tax revenues it can generate.  

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How financial services organisations can harness the power of low-code/no-code

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By Joman Kwong, Strategic Solutions Manager, Financial, at Laserfiche

 

The UK’s erratic economy, and its spiralling cost-of-living crisis, have amplified consumer demand for personal finance and wealth management support. And with financial customers growing ever more tech-savvy, it’s not just the monetary services themselves that are under the spotlight, but their digital methods of delivery, too.

Today, an estimated 64% of Britons believe digital processes — like remote account opening, online banking or mobile apps are important factors in deciding what financial institutions they do business with. And as sleek, intuitive digital experiences like the Netflix homepage fast become the norm, customers now expect similar ease of use, personalisation, and automation from their financial services. Finance is an industry which, perhaps more than any other, needs to radiate trust, safety, and simplicity. So, businesses’ processes and user experiences (UX) must be modernised to reflect this—otherwise, they risk current and prospective customers turning elsewhere.

In the past, wealth management and personal finance companies would’ve faced costly, time-intensive coding projects to upgrade their digital services. Traditional ways of developing technology applications can take several months — for testing, debugging and deploying organization-wide. This can seem overwhelming or even impossible for many organizations that have limited or strained IT resources. A recent survey of financial advisors conducted by Laserfiche found that the top three challenges to changing workflow processes were competing priorities (52%), uncertainty on where to start (35%), and lack of bandwidth (30%). So, how can firms keep pace with technology needs, while continuing to provide high-quality client services?

The recent emergence of low-code and no-code tools now mean that even employees with little knowledge of programming can make impactful changes to online banking processes. So, let’s explore the power of ‘low code/no code’ in more detail — and how finance companies can harness its power to create cutting-edge, ultra-efficient user experiences today.

What is low code/no code?

Simply, a low-code/no-code platform provides tools that empower individuals or teams to create and deploy electronic forms, automate workflows or integrate technology applications with little to no IT or programming support.

With drag-and-drop toolkits and prebuilt process templates, firms can digitize and automate processes like opening new accounts, money movement, or gathering information to complete a financial plan within a matter of hours. Low-code and no-code tools also support back-office process transformation projects, which can provide additional significant time and cost savings.

According to Forrester, low-code platforms have the potential to speed up software development by as much as 10 times when compared to traditional coding methods. After all, they not only minimise the need to code applications from scratch, but also the need to re-programme basic functionalities and back-end infrastructure by reusing pre-approved foundations. And perhaps most importantly, they free up precious IT resources to focus on more challenging, strategic projects and upgrades.

Low-code/no-code fosters agility for organisations within any industry. But for financial services, in which tough regulations and customer needs are evolving perhaps faster than ever, it allows businesses to safely respond to changes not within weeks or months, but mere days. By leveraging low-code/no-code tools, finance companies can act far faster than competitors — and earn more customers as a result.

A Low-Code/No-Code Approach to End-to-End Solutions

Though low-code and no-code platforms are commonly used for building automated solutions to customers’ pain points, their power extends beyond individual workflows. Leading low-code and no-code platforms can also support integrations using services such as integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), which can significantly boost productivity and accelerate response to customer needs. Firms can leverage iPaaS prebuilt connectors to quickly orchestrate integration flows between line of business applications such as ECM, CRM, ERP, payment processing systems and more — rather than using the months of IT time normally required to deploy these types of solutions.

Integrating multiple platforms and data sources can ultimately unlock insights that inform firms’ strategic decisions, driving new and innovative solutions and customer experiences. For example, by integrating a firm’s CRM, ECM and customer service tools, employees can get a holistic view of their customers, and pinpoint areas of the customer journey that fail to meet expectations, such as a heavy visitor drop-off on an investment calculator tool. The firm can then address these issues by re-engineering the investment calculator process, and continue to monitor, personalise, and improve the wider customer experience.

Considerations for leverage low-code and no-code tools

While the promise of low-code/no-code has many organisations exploring this new frontier of application development, not all vendors providing low-code/no-code solutions are created equal. Firms seeking out these technologies should be aware of key considerations:

  • Financial services experience: Operating in the wealth management industry requires expert-level compliance literacy. Vendors should have a deep knowledge of SEC and FINRA requirements, and a demonstrated commitment to data security and privacy.
  • Ease of use: The term “low-code” casts a wide net. Technology platforms that provide intuitive experiences — such as downloadable prebuilt templates and drag-and-drop tools — provide the most value to firms looking to deploy automated solutions quickly, speed adoption and achieve fast ROI.
  • Customizability: Tech vendors should provide flexibility within their solutions to allow users to easily configure solutions to fit specific organizational needs.
  • Scalability: Vendors with a cloud-first development approach will provide more agility and scalability, essential for firms looking to grow and navigate change.

Is low-code/no-code the future?

Some might perceive the leveraging of low code and no code to be a little restrictive when compared to a bottom-up coding approach. But with the right platform, the possibilities of what can be built are almost limitless. Some platforms even host solution marketplaces, in which creators can share the solutions they’ve built, and others can download these pre-built templates to kick-start improvements even faster.

With so many advantages, it’s perhaps no surprise that analyst firm Gartner predicts by 2025, “70% of new applications developed by organisations will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020.” As budgets shrink and digital expectations grow, low-code/no-code might just be the answer for financial services companies looking to remain safe and successful throughout the looming recession.

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The power of a proactive customer service

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By Delia Pedersoli, COO, MultiPay

 

2023 is shaping up to be another challenging period for B2C businesses. While the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has for now largely disappeared, new challenges like the cost-of-living crisis have arrived. As economic uncertainty impacts every consumer business from retail to travel and leisure experiences, service providers and suppliers must double down on their customer service to help clients through these challenging times. One area of customer service that is particularly important – and often overlooked – is proactivity.

A move to a more proactive customer service approach should not come at the expense of reactive measures. Regardless of how well-prepared customer service teams are and how detailed processes are, there will always be unforeseen and unexpected issues that need to be addressed. But by working in tandem, B2B service providers can deliver the service that customers now expect.

In recent years, the landscape has changed. Customers expect proactivity and for suppliers to understand what they want. Data from Salesforce that covered both consumers and business customers identified that two-thirds of respondents expect the suppliers they buy from to understand their needs and expectations. Not only this, but those that do take a proactive approach to customer service see a full point increase in their NPS.

Delivering a first-class proactive customer service is therefore a key requirement for businesses wanting to build and develop long-term relationships with their customers. However, for many businesses, it can be hard to know what to focus on and improve to attain the proactivity required. At MultiPay we have made proactivity a core part of our customer service, which has allowed us to identify several important factors.

A proactive process

Delia Pedersoli

The first area to focus on is getting close to customers. The more you know about a customer, how their business works, what the goals are and where there are challenges all helps in identifying areas to support with a proactive customer service. A good method to structure these insights is to conduct a SWOT analysis. Knowing the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of a client helps identify areas that may need support soon. On top of this, it is important to invest time in speaking with clients. Not only will this help with the SWOT, but it can also highlight areas for operational improvements. Speaking with people from across the business allows you to truly get under its skin.

Knowledge is power when it comes to enhancing the proactivity of customer service. In addition to getting under the skin of a business, it is also important to understand its industry inside and out. Staying on top of key trends, themes, and issues affecting a client’s industry and sector helps with remaining on the front foot. Recently at MultiPay, we experienced a scenario that brought this home, working with one of Europe’s largest tourism operators, The Travel Corporation (TTC) which needed to bounce back quickly following the Covid-19 pandemic. With consumers excited to travel again, TTC needed a customer service and payments solution that could quickly scale and support its on-the-move workforce of travel directors. Working closely with TTC’s team along with monitoring the news and industry trends like the lifting of travel restrictions we were able to be proactive in scaling up operations in anticipation of key markets reopening. Staying ahead of the curve meant we were prepared to deliver new or replacement payment terminals at very short notice to travel directors anywhere in Europe. As a result, we eliminated the risk of downtime and loss of earnings that TTC could have suffered if there had been delays.

Planning for success

In addition to knowing a client’s business and their sector inside and out, it is also important to remember that no two businesses are ever the same. While some tactics and strategies may work for one, they may not translate to another. By getting to know clients, customer service can be tailored to them and their unique needs. Working with TTC for example, we learnt that its travel directors when out in the field, often lack an internet connection. Consequently, they needed to be highly self-sufficient. To achieve this, we developed a bespoke handbook that provided a step-by-step guide to setting up payment devices and solving common issues. On top of this, a dedicated hotline was launched, allowing travel directors to quickly gain help if needed when they did have connectivity. Taking the time to develop tailor-made services specific to TTC and its travel directors, helped provide the agility the business needed and removed pressure from TTC’s internal team.

Of course, before developing a user guide or establishing a hotline a plan needs to be created. Taking the time to meticulously map out the strategy and tactics to support a business is key. Factoring known events or challenges into a plan is vital in getting ahead of them. For instance, as well as navigating the reopening of travel destinations, our work with TTC also meant we had to work around the global chip shortage causing delays in device deliveries. To plan around this, we purposefully pre-ordered additional handsets that could be kept on standby. Then when a request for a new terminal came in, we didn’t have to let the client experience the delays caused by the chip shortage. In doing so we could ensure a smooth flow of devices to travel directors.

With so much uncertainty in the world currently, there has never been more of a need for proactive customer services from B2B suppliers. By building up a knowledge basis of a client’s business, their industry, and then planning and tailoring approaches accordingly, B2B suppliers can help their customers thrive in 2023 while also emerging as true partners. When uncertainty hits as much as we are now seeing, planning, and proactively become more important than ever.

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