Five things businesses can expect in 2021

 

 

 

Given everything that’s happened in 2020, it’s anyone’s guess what’s coming down the line in 2021. But there are five main issues we know, that are almost certain to impact businesses across Europe next year.  

 

 

Brexit 

 

While, right now, the headlines are all about Covid-19, before the global pandemic hit, it was all Brexit. And that hasn’t gone away. On January 31st, the UK is set to leave the EU and, as yet, there is still no deal. Anything could happen between now and then, but whether it’s a no-deal or the parties come to some arrangement, there are sure to be serious ramifications for businesses both in the UK and the rest of Europe. Keep abreast of developments and begin putting contingencies in place on what you can plan for. 

 

 

Taxes 

 

As a result of Brexit – the UK leaving EU, means that the EU will lose a major contributor. The remaining 27 states will have to increase how much they pay into the central pot in order to balance the books – which means governments will have to find extra cash somewhere. Making up this shortfall could mean extra taxes on businesses. Again, we still don’t know all of the details and will have to wait and see how the EC reacts, particularly with the ramifications of the current pandemic. 

 

 

Covid-19 

 

As the second wave of Covid-19 is here, once again businesses are being locked down all over Europe. Without a doubt, there will be casualties as many go to the wall, despite governments bail out schemes to keep companies operating and employees paid.  

However, when the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, there’ll be a price to pay in terms of the debt left in its wake, along with a high probability of recession. Many businesses will be looking for handouts and funding to get back up-and-running. But, an even worse scenario could await in the early months of next year in the form of a third wave of the disease. 

 

 

Work from home is here to stay 

 

Coronavirus lockdowns saw more companies than ever implement WFH (Work From Home) policies. It’s thought that close to a third of all European worker have now worked from home at some stage during the pandemic and this is set to continue into next year.  

Many of these businesses wouldn’t have considered adopting these policies before the pandemic hitHowever, more significantly, many of these companies are seeing business benefits as a result of WFH and other flexible working policies. WFH will become the norm at many companies once the pandemic has ended.  

And, as we see those laid off during the pandemic re-entering the workforce during 2021, it will be companies that have embraced flexible working practices that will be able to cherry-pick the best of the talent out there.  

 

 

Payment technologies will do even more 

 

Voice technologies such as Alexa and Siri are changing the way consumers interact with technology and with businesses. Along with technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), data analytics, Cloud computing and the Internet of Things, the way we purchase and pay for things is evolving fast.  

To benefit, businesses must make sure they are using the latest technology and partnering with payment solutions providers that will be able to connect them to more customers in new ways. At KoalaPays, we will always push the boundaries of what can be achieved with our payment solutions, offering more value and functionality to businesses that partner with us, as well as helping you to offer more to your own customers too. Get in touch with our team if you’d like to find out more.  

Why startups should make payments a priority

 

 

 

Starting up a business is a complex undertaking. It can also be unpredictable. You can only do so much to plan ahead, but protecting your finances gives you a better chance of dealing with the unexpected. Which is why cash flow is so important, especially for startups.  

When you realise that nearly half of all startups fail within the first five years, you can see just how important it is to keep a steady stream of payments coming in from customers in a timely fashion. 

 

 

Get cash flowing into your business 

 

Getting a business up-and-running can be an exciting time. Understandably, many entrepreneurs feel pressured to focus on their product or service in order to make it as attractive as possible and maximise sales. But, as a result, the importance of setting up good processes to handle the payments for those sales is sometimes neglected.  

And that’s a big mistake!  

Your cash flow has to cover all of your expenses for each month and if payments aren’t coming in, or being processed fast enough, it falls behind. It’s then, when your business can start running into trouble.  

Which is why startups must focus on every element of the payment process to optimise cashflow. At this stage, it’s not all about profit – it’s about not running out of cash, as the business is finding its feet. So it’s vital to ensure that your cashflow projections are realistic from the outset. Achieving that means having the right payments strategy in place. 

 

 

Technology is the best friend of startups 

 

The key to getting this right today is technology. Older payment systems used by traditional banks can be slow, bureaucratic and cumbersome. New ones, such as KoalaPays, have been designed to be fast, efficient and flexible.  

With KoalaPays, you can manage your finances in a way that works for you with our dedicated business bank accounts. They are user-friendly and allow you to quickly convert currencies, transfer funds and be in control of your money. It’s equipped with comprehensive reporting tools, payroll function, shared users feature and much more. 

Furthermore, our business accounts and services are evolving all the time. We’re always looking to add value for our business customers by making our systems compatible with your own and packed with features and functionalities that make it easier for you to do business. A good example of this is our separate accounts for each currency. This makes it much easier to keep costs low when taking overseas payments in different currencies.  

 

 

Stay on top of credit control 

 

At the heart of any good payments strategy is a strong credit control function. Set realistic credit limits, make sure your customers are clear on due dates and, above all, insist that invoices are paid in a timely manner. If necessary, introduce penalties for late payments. If you’re at all unsure about a new customer or business partner, carry out a credit check.  

One of the most useful advantages of new technology is that most of the processes dealing with the collection of payments can be automated, so you spend less time dealing with payments and more time focussing on sales.  

With the right payments strategy, you can take the effort out of credit control, get paid faster and streamline all your payment mechanisms. Once all those fall into line, you can focus on your core business and grow your profitability.  

Talk to a representative at KoalaPays for more advice on getting the right payments platform set up for your needs.  

Five things business owners can learn from Covid-19

 

 

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on businesses in every sector. Companies are learning the importance of being resilient, resourceful and being prepared for the unexpected. But that’s not all. Along the way, the crisis has revealed valuable insights that have led to changes and many firms asking: why didn’t we do this earlier? 

 

 

Flexible working 

 

Perhaps the biggest lesson for companies has been that working from home and other flexible working policies are good for businessFirms that, for one reason or another, were hesitant to adopt working from home practices, have had no choice but to give WFH (Work From Home) a go. Vast numbers of people are now working from home. And, as both employees and businesses see the benefits, it looks likely that many companies will be adopting flexible working practices permanently 

Clearly, by working from home, the daily commute has been eliminated and employees are enjoying a better work/life balanceIn turn, this has translated into benefits for employers in the form of a happier, more productive workforce. Companies are reporting other advantages too. Virtual meetings tend to be more structured and effective than a crowded conference room and there are considerable cost savings to be gained with no workers on site. 

 

 

Digital transformation 

 

Implementing flexible working practices such as WFH has meant that companies have also had to change the way they work. This has meant updating IT infrastructure, as well as improving work processes. All this is making businesses more streamlined and efficient. Digital technology, Cloud applications and virtual solutions are all powering this digital transformation, helping teams to collaborate, communicate and operate as usual. Services such as KoalaPays payments platform is just one example of how these new, fully digital solutions can benefit businesses. 

 

 

Contingency planning 

 

One thing everyone has learned from Covid-19 is that you can’t predict what’s round the corner. That’s why it’s so important to plan for every conceivable contingency. Despite the unexpected magnitude of the current crisis, those companies that had even generic disaster recovery and contingency plans in place will have been more resilient than those without.  

Those without such plans are now doing the same, creating dedicated ‘disaster’ teams to look at business processes and links in the supply chain, where things can go wrong and what can be done to mitigate risks in the event of a crisis. Again, digitalisation is key here. The more business processes are outsourced to the Cloud, the more they will be protected.  

 

 

Proactive planning for the future 

 

While disaster recovery and contingency planning is essential to safeguard against the unknown, business planning for what you can see is just as important. Things are unlikely to be the same ever again for businesses – in every sector – so it’s important to look ahead to spot opportunities and challenges that might be coming down the line for your business. Flexibility is key here 

Get your team together for a meeting to review the changes implemented as a result of the pandemic. Question what’s working and what isn’t. Then discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. How can you prepare for them? Let everyone have a say. You might be surprised by some of the ideas and solutions you discover. 

 

 

Greater co-operation 

 

Tackling Covid-19 has meant everyone working together, from governments and state bodies to businesses and their customers. Beating the challenges to come in the wake of the pandemic will depend on the same co-operation. Solutions happen when people work together, whether that’s a business and its staff, partners and customers, or even collaborations with competing firms.  

Rather than sticking to tried and tested ways of doing business that have worked up until now, business owners must look at the new paradigm created by Covid-19 and proactively develop new strategies that will help their business not only survive, but thrive in the era that is to come 

What’s next for the payments industry?

 

 

2020 has been a tumultuous time for businesses in every sector, but one of the legacies of the Covid-19 crisis has been a huge reduction in cash transactions and a big upsurge of making use of alternative payment methods, such as the use of online payment platforms. This trend is set to continue as businesses and customers see the benefits of making payments online. But, what other developments can we expect to see in payments industry in 2021 and beyond? 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence comes of age 

 

The acronym on everyone’s lips at the moment is AI or Artificial Intelligence. The effect of AI is being felt across every industry sector, but in the world of online payments it has the potential to vastly improve payments ecosystems for banks, payment processors, businesses and their customers.  

The technology is already being rolled out in the form of chatbots, Smart assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, and new applications are in the pipeline. In terms of the payments industry, AI has the potential to greatly enhance the user experience (UX), reduce fraud, create new ways for businesses to interact with customers and personalise payment processes. Along the way, we can expect to see new, more efficient ways of carrying out transactions 

Beyond this, with digital payments set to reach record numbers in 2021, AI and Machine Learning will play a pivotal role in monitoring and analysing all these transactions, offering real insights for businesses in every sector. Which bring us on nicely to the next trend for the online payments industry – data. 

Monetising data 

 

Information has always been vital for companies in order to gain insights and make informed business decisions. Right now, there’s more data out there than ever before – far too much for humans to process. Which is where AI and ML come in. Artificial Technology has the power to collect, move, analyse and transform millions of pieces of data in seconds.  

Two important areas that will benefit are security and authorisation. AI can convert this data into solid advice on why transactions don’t go through and deliver technical tweaks that can eliminate obstacles in the authorisation process and lower costs. 

Look out for new tools coming from KoalaPays that can help you make better, more informed decisions when it comes to your business strategy.  

 

 

The power of the digital wallet 

 

The use of digital wallets (or e-wallets) and mobile payments is rising exponentially, overtaking traditional payment methods. Here, at KoalaPays we already offer these services to our customers, as this area is expected to become a major industry player in the coming years. 

This is because digital wallets have the ability to store additional information such as loyalty cards, or driving licence details, as well as offer increased transparency and security when it comes to monitoring transactions. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) makes it almost impossible for cyber-criminals to access accounts. And because e-wallet can only be used at specific retailers, they’re not subject to interchange fees imposed by payment networks. 

For businesses, digital wallets are a valuable source of information that can be used to tailor and segment your marketing efforts for greater returns. 

 

 

Cracking security 

 

For all this to happen, consumers need to know that online payments are secure. After all, they are the ones who are driving changes in the sector.  

Online payments have already become one of the most secure ways to pay and accept payments. However, new technological developments such as advanced encryption, biometric authentication, e-wallets and AI/ML will provide solutions that give customers the peace of mind to buy with complete confidence. Once they have that, they’ll make purchase decisions more quickly and buy more often.  

Mobile payments 

 

Mobile payments are becoming big business, but we’re only at the start of the curve. Thanks to API and Open Banking, 2021 could be the year that mobile payments go mainstream. And talking of Open Banking, 2021 will also be the year that banks and the FinTechs create solid partnerships that see them combine their individual strengths to deliver better services than ever for customers and businesses alike.  

While cash and payment cards are here to stay for the foreseeable future, online payments are set to become one of the most common ways customers purchase goods and services. Digitisation and moving to an online payment service provider will be invaluable for businesses who want to win new customers and gain new tools for frictionless payments and better business processes. 

 

Tips for managing your payroll more efficiently

 

 

Payroll can be a complicated business, especially for small firms that don’t have the necessary resources for a fully dedicated payroll department. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of tools out there that can help you streamline and manage your payroll much more efficiently. The good news is, today, a lot of payroll functions can be simplified with the right software. And even payment service providers like KoalaPays can provide tools as part of your business account to make it easier to integrate your business accounts with your payroll.  

 

Start by getting the right software  

Every business, big or small, has different needs, so it’s important to research what payroll packages are out there to get the best most appropriate solution for your company’s needs. Make sure you get a software package that integrates with the rest of your IT infrastructure, as well as one that’s compatible with other technologies.  

Many payment providers are now integrating their services with payroll software so companies can pay their employees more efficiently. Here, at KoalaPays, we see the technology progressing all the time and are continuously working on further developments to make it even easier for companies to manage their payroll in the near future. 

 

Train your staff up 

 Having software that can automate many of your payroll functions means you shouldn’t need to hire too many extra staff to run it, but it’s important to make sure that staff responsible for payroll functions are fully trained to make sure you get the most from your payroll package and errors are minimised. Sending just one dedicated member of staff on a training course could be one of the best investments you make.  

Don’t neglect compliance. It’s vitally important that whoever is in charge of payroll also knows the rules regarding employment law and tax. This is especially important if you trade internationally. Rules are complex and updated regularly so it’s advisable to get professional advice when it comes to regulatory and statutory compliance. 

 

The joys of being paper-free 

In this digital age, there’s no need to give every employee a wage slip, especially as nearly all salaries are paid directly into a bank account. Preparing and posting wage slips is a very laborious process and can cost your business money. It’s much more efficient to do it all online and almost completely eliminate paperwork.  

 

Regularly review your payroll processes 

Your payroll needs will change as your business evolves. Make sure the processes you have in place are still the best for the needs of your company. Do regular audits of work flow process of the payroll function to see what’s working and what could be done better.  

Payroll isn’t the most fun, so why devote so much time to it. Put these tips into action and you and your staff will have much more time and resources to focus on core objectives like growing the business.  

SEPA, SWIFT and Faster Payments (FPS) – what’s best for your business?

 

 

Advances in technology and banking systems means there are more ways than ever to make overseas payments. But with so many payment types out there, which are best for your business? Here we look at some of the main transfer methods. 

SEPA 

 

SEPA stands for the Single European Payments Area and is an initiative designed to simplify payments transactions in Euro between 36 countries in the Eurozone. As a result of SEPA, account holders can make cross-border payments between these countries in exactly the same way they would within their own country. It’s also possible to set up direct debits that are payable in another country. One bank account covers the entire SEPA system. 

To use SEPA, all you need is an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and a BIC (Bank Identifier Code) in order to identify your account when it comes to making payments or receiving money. Typically, payments are processed within a day.  

However, charges by traditional banks can put customers off when it comes to paying this way, as these institutions can charge both the sender and the recipient. This is why it’s best to use newer, online payment solutions, such as KoalaPays, in order to reduce or avoid these fees altogether. 

Nevertheless, with its standardised payments structure, SEPA does have a number of advantages for business, such as increased transparency and faster settlement times when making cross-border payments.  

SWIFT 

 

The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide InterBank Financial Telecommunications) payment system also standardises the act of performing financial transactions between banks in two distinct countries. SWIFT does not actually send money; instead, it sends messages between the two banks who already have a direct relationship – or via an intermediary. This is a more convoluted process which can take longer and, while, SWIFT means you can send payments outside the Eurozone, charges with high street banks can be high.  

If the two banks involved in a SWIFT transaction don’t have an existing relationship (as in a commercial account with the other party), things get more complicated, as they then must use an intermediary. Obviously, this takes longer and involves more fees. FX fees can increase the total charge further. 

The good news is, carrying out SEPA and SWIFT transfers through a payment service provider, such as KoalaPays, can be much quicker and cheaper, as our technology automates many of these processes.  

Faster Payments 

 

Faster Payments Service (FPS) launched more recently, when New Payment System Operator (NPSO) took over responsibility of the BACS system. It’s a UK initiative to accelerate the process of making multiple small transactions – so it’s ideal for businesses that sell in the UK.  

While limits are set by individual banks, it is possible to transfer up to £250,000 using the system. Payments typically take few minutes to two hours to process. However, there is no guarantee on timescale and some may not be processed until the next business day.  

There are four ways businesses can use Faster Payments: 

 

  • Single Immediate Payment – A single payment that can be sent instantly, by mobile, online or in-branch banking.  
  • Forward-Dated Payment – A one-off payment at an arranged time, for example, when a bill becomes due. 
  • Standing Orders – Payments made on a specified date each month. 
  • Direct Corporate Access Payments – Designed especially for business customers where payment messages can be sent in bulk.   

 

It’s worth pointing out that not every banking institution offer FPS. At present, 21 banks and building societies have signed up to the service. 

Choose a platform that gives you more choice 

 

The preferred system of payment for most firms will largely depend on their business model and where they tradeScale of transactions will also have an impact on the choice of system used. 

It’s worth remembering, however, the more options you can give your customers, when it comes to paying, the happier they’ll be and the more business you’ll get. Ultimately, most firms will opt for a flexible payment solutions provider, such as KoalaPays. That way, they get access to all the services they need under one roof through a single dedicated account.   

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