By Dick Paul, Head of SME Products, Europe
Across Europe we see a sharp increase in banks launching mobile wallets and digital payment solutions. These are developed with a consumer end-user in mind and the specific needs of small businesses are at risk of being overlooked. At Mastercard we have developed an SME app prototype to showcase what specific functionality should be included to address the small business customer needs around cash flow, control and recognition.
Managing cash flow is consistently mentioned as a key priority in research with small businesses. This is not only the flexibility to pay later or pay large purchases in instalments; the key pain point in cash flow is customers paying late or not at all. Making it easy for customers to pay has a positive impact on the speed of receiving payments. Whether it is the ability to send customers an instant invoice including a ‘Pay Now’ button or pairing a payment acceptance device to your smart phone, we are working closely with our partners to bring more flexible card acceptance solutions to market at a competitive price.
Control means different things to different small businesses. For some this is the ability to set monthly spending budgets, link a receipt image to a transaction and transact safely online. Others see this more as setting controls and alerts on employee cards to safely delegate spending. We are working with banks and card issuers to offer these control functionalities on mobile devices for small business customers in countries such as Germany, UK, Ireland, Italy, France and Poland, with more countries to follow soon.
Small businesses are as individual as consumers and they want to be recognised for their uniqueness. The ability to personalise business cards – debit, credit or pre-paid – with relevant services and benefits which are easy to access are critical in building customer intimacy with small businesses and ultimately saves costs for issuing banks. Mobile devices are increasingly used as a channel to communicate offers and access benefits, without the need to visit a bank branch.
There still is an incredible opportunity to better serve the needs of small businesses. With more than 60% of private sector employees in Europe working for one, making them more successful will have a direct and significant positive impact on national economies.