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HOW FINTECH AND E-COMMERCE CAN PROFIT FROM BREXIT

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HOW FINTECH AND E-COMMERCE CAN PROFIT FROM BREXIT

An essential guide on making Brexit profitable for fintech, and e-commerce professionals 

If we suddenly learnt that the world would end tomorrow, someone would make money from the discovery. At very least, to quote Tom Lehrer[1], Lloyds of London would be loaded when they go.

No matter what happens, someone somewhere finds a way to turn a profit. The trick is, being that someone.  With Brexit, so much focus has been on the negatives, that we think that there’s a danger that opportunities will be missed.

Here’s our guide to having a good Brexit.

E-commerce and cross-border lead generation

The exchange-rate for sterling has fallen so low, that the pound is almost at parity with the euro. For cross-border e-shoppers from the rest of the EU, that turns Britain into a massive bargain store.

With even a minimal effort at promotion, UK merchants can attract price-conscious EU consumers. In fact, UK SMEs saw their international sales rise by an incredible 34% in the last six months of 2016, three times the increase in the first half of the year[2], due to the exchange rate. If ever there was a time to feature the Union Jack accompanied by the words (suitably localised) ‘Brexit bargains’, in your promotions, it’s now.

That’s great, as far as it goes. Everyone wants extra trade even if we’re effectively selling at a discount. But it’s not sustainable and its continuation cannot, in any case, be taken for granted. At some point the pound will rebound or bargain hunters will revert to their previous shopping habits.

So, what to do?

Turn today’s cross-border bargain hunters into loyal repeat shoppers. Invest now in data collection, strategic planning and customer-experience improvements. Use the data you gather on your new customers to engage them and migrate them to localised version of your site. For now, keep them coming back with price-led promotions but over the next year, try to deepen customer relationship, learn their other purchase motivators and give them reasons other than price to keep coming back.

There is no sign of the Eurozone recovery slowing down; in fact, it’s quite the opposite, with the Eurozone economy growing twice as fast as the UK in recent months[3]. And there are already signs, particularly from the automotive sector, that this is releasing pent-up demand. In theory, there’s no reason why UK retailers can’t benefit by servicing this pent-up demand. Successfully doing so — particularly in the face of, for instance, uncertainty over customs arrangements after Brexit — is going to take nerve, commitment, and impeccable customer focus. But it is possible.

Fintech, the City, and a country that loves to borrow, spend, and invest

Brexit threatens a sizable chunk of the UK financial-services industry. Much of the business conducted by UK financial services, most obviously the Euro-clearing markets, relies on access to EU markets. That’s a fact. We can’t wish it away.

But neither Brexit nor the EU are everything. To take a couple of examples, London trades nearly twice as much foreign currency as New York[4], its nearest rival. This trade does not depend on EU markets. Around 60% of the world’s Eurobonds are traded in London[5]. Despite the name, these have nothing to do with the EU and the trade is not fundamentally threatened by Brexit. Similarly, the £60 billion-a-year London market for commercial insurance draws a third of its clients from North America, a third from the UK and Ireland, and a third from the rest of the world put together, including the EU[6].

The UK fintech scene has the world’s biggest financial centre at its disposal. And if Brexit threatens to erect barriers that will hinder UK firms trading on the continent, the same is true in reverse. UK fintechs will enjoy privileged access, in geographical and regulatory terms, to the enormous b2b market that the City of London gives them access to.

They will also have privileged access to the UK’s highly competitive retail finance market, worth £58 – £67 billion a year[7]. And there are signs that leaving the EU could help invigorate at least some segments of that market. A recent article in the FT[8] — not by any means a Brexit cheerleader — reported that small-to-medium UK providers of retail banking services are actively looking forward to Brexit in the hope that it will free them from onerous EU regulations designed for huge ‘too large to fail’ banks but now applied to all financial institutions, even smaller ones.

Taken together — along with the ready availability of investment for fintech start-ups in London, and the UK’s sympathetic regulatory environment — these facts clearly signpost a potential future for the UK as a global B2B and B2C fintech incubator.

But this won’t happen by itself. Right now, we’re still faced with the threat of a fintech exodus. To make sure the UK’s fintech motor doesn’t stall, the British government must work out a transition deal with the EU27 that gives London-based fintech firms an incentive to keep at least some of their businesses here for long enough to see what opportunities Brexit and a post-Brexit UK could bring.

And as an industry, we need to lobby as hard for that transition as we have for a PSD2 that’s fit for purpose. Recognising that there are profound risks associated with Brexit does not stop us also looking for opportunity in it. Why should it? For as long as the world hasn’t ended, there is still business to be done.

  • Simon Black, CEO, PPRO Group

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs

[2] https://www.paypal.com/stories/uk/open-for-business-paypal-reveals-online-exports-boom?categoryId=company-news

[3] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8122505/2-01082017-AP-EN.pdf/940abad8-436d-4758-b9d2-2156173a2c77

[5]https://www.lseg.com/sites/default/files/content/documents/20170105%20Dim%20Sum%20Bond%20Presentation_0.pdf

[7] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/587384/IPOL_BRI(2016)587384_EN.pdf – Page 4 of 12

[8] https://www.ft.com/content/4e2967a4-8991-11e7-bf50-e1c239b45787

Business

Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support – The Sunday Times

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Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support - The Sunday Times 1

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension to COVID-19 support schemes in the budget next month, The Sunday Times reported https://bit.ly/3ujaBcU.

Sunak, in his speech on March 3, will announce he is increasing corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound and will outline a pathway where it rises to 23 pence in the pound by the time of the next general election, the report said. The move will raise an expected 12 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) a year, the report added.

According to the report, at least 1 pence is set to be added to the bill for business from this autumn, at a cost to business of 3 billion pounds, with further rises in subsequent years.

Allies of Sunak clarified he would not increase corporation tax higher than 23%.

These measures will be helpful in paying for an extension to the furlough scheme, VAT cuts and business support loans until at least August.

Unlike the 2010 Conservative-led government, which pursued spending cuts to rebalance the economy after the global financial crisis, Sunak is expected to defer most of the toughest decisions about how to pay for that support in his budget speech.

“The corporation tax hike will be higher than expected and the extension of the support schemes will be longer than most people expect,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Insiders indicated the stamp duty holiday on property purchases would also be extended in line with the other coronavirus support measures, the report said.

Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.

($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

 

(Reporting by Vishal Vivek in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

 

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Business

Foxconn chairman says expects “limited impact” from chip shortage on clients

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Foxconn chairman says expects "limited impact" from chip shortage on clients 2

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Saturday he expects his company and its clients will face only “limited impact” from a chip shortage that has rattled the global automotive and semiconductor industries.

“Since most of the customers we serve are large customers, they all have proper precautionary planning,” said Liu Young-way, chairman of the manufacturing conglomerate formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd

“Therefore, the impact on these large customers is there, but limited,” he told reporters.

Liu said he expected the company to do well in the first half of 2021, “especially as the pandemic is easing and demand is still being sustained.”

The global spread of COVID-19 has increased demand for laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics. This caused chip manufacturers to reallocate capacity away from the automotive sector, which was expecting a steep downturn.

Now, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have cut output as chip capacity has shrunk.

Counterpoint Research says the shortage has extended to the smartphone sector, with application processors, display driver chips, and power management chips all facing a crunch.

However, the research firm predicts Apple will face a minimal impact, due to its large size and its suppliers’ tendency to prioritise it. Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer.

Foxconn is looking at other areas for growth, including in electric vehicles (EVs), and Liu said their EV development platform MIH now had 736 partner companies participating.

He expected it would have two or three models to show by the fourth quarter, though did not expect EVs to make an obvious contribution to company earnings until 2023.

Liu also said the company was still looking for semiconductor fab purchase opportunities in Southeast Asia after not winning a bid to take over a stake in Malaysia-based 8-inch foundry house Silterra.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao; Writing by Josh Horwitz; Editing by William Mallard and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules 3

By Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett

BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe and the United States should join forces in the fight against climate change and agree on a new framework for the digital market, limiting the power of big tech companies, European Union chief executive Ursula von der Leyen said.

“I am sure: A shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark,” the president of the European Commission said in a speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide: a set of rules based on our values, human rights and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy.”

The EU has pledged to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, while President Joe Biden has committed the United States to become a “net zero economy” by 2050.

Scientists say the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times and avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The hope is that a transatlantic alliance could help persuade large emitters who have yet to commit to this timeline – including China, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, and India.

“The United States is our natural partner for global leadership on climate change,” von der Leyen said.

She called the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol a turning point for the discussion on the impact social media has on democracies.

“Of course, imposing democratic limits on the uncontrolled power of big tech companies alone will not stop political violence,” von der Leyen said. “But it is an important step.”

She was referring to a draft set of rules unveiled in December which aims to rein in tech companies that control troves of data and online platforms relied on by thousands of companies and millions of Europeans for work and social interactions.

They show the European Commission’s frustration with its antitrust cases against the tech giants, notably Alphabet Inc’s Google, which critics say have not addressed the problem.

But they also risk inflaming tensions with Washington, already irked by Brussels’ attempts to tax U.S. tech firms more.

Von der Leyen said Facebook’s decision on a news blackout on Thursday in response to a forthcoming Australian law requiring it and Google to share revenue from news underscored the importance of a global approach to dealing with tech giants.

(Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmott and Nick Macfie; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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