SMEs and payments problems, butting heads more often than bulls at a rodeo. From transaction fee laden global marketplaces, to middleman banks taking ages to process payments, and supplier contracts with larger companies enabling late payment havoc, such problems can create cashflow issues that quickly become the bane of business peoples’ lives.
Such circumstances can very easily lead to lengthy delays for receipt of payments from customers of all kinds, business or otherwise, straining SME finances and potentially dampening growth. It’s no surprise then that recent research by the Small Business Insights Index illustrated the plights of many, with just under half of SMEs polled confessing that they operated in the red on a regular basis.
Despite this, the growth of payments technologies is encouraging the world to become increasingly cashless, with debit card payments overtaking cash use in the UK for the first time last year. Encouraging the culture of entrepreneurship in the age of the gig economy, such technology offers opportunity to the entrepreneurs and SMEs bold enough to seize its evolutions, enabling anybody with a smartphone to start selling. So in a cashless age, how can SMEs thrive?
Cashing in on cashless
The impact of the internet and growth of e-commerce has changed the game for all businesses. Digital payments and online shopping have without a doubt influenced the declining fortunes of the high-street, and as bank branch closures have accelerated consumer expectations have evolved upwards. Customers expect the entire shopping process, including payments, to be as smooth as silk, and unnecessary friction between touchpoints can now be the difference between a payment made and a selling opportunity squandered.
Legislation is also ramping up the pressure. The levying of payment processing fees on consumers has recently been banned by EU law, and despite the intended benefits to both businesses and customers, Visa and MasterCard have responded by tacking on extra fees to their business services. Clearly, businesses need to wake up to the new reality, and explore payment management options beyond the old guard.
As such, there are valuable opportunities that can enable more effective cash flow and payments management in the digital age, opportunities that are increasing exponentially with the growth of solo-preneur culture and the gig economy. Many have become naturally at home with the speed at which technology is evolving, with shifts in commercial landscapes opened up by digital technologies taken advantage of by nimble upstarts. Point of sales systems (POS) are central to this.
As the rate of digital payments made continues to increase on an annual basis, businesses that choose to utilise POS systems which sidestep banks for payments processing will be the ones to gain the most. With payments, cost of processing, convenience and speed are fundamental, and such POS platforms enable businesses to be paid straightaway, unencumbered by excessive payments fees, and on the go.
In this way, SMEs can take steps to avoid cash flow problems, facilitating effective money management through easy, affordable and timely access to card payments. And for B2B businesses, there’s also the opportunity to harness analytics obtained through savvy deployment of such tools to plan ahead for leaner months, seeking to avoid cash flow crunches and to run fully in the green.
Effectively, implementing bank free POS systems in this way can save time, encourage a forward-thinking cash flow strategy, and could enable SMEs to steal a march on other less tech-aware rivals. So why not engage with one today?
Andrew Byrne, COO, myPOS Europe