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MICRO MERCHANTS EYE FUTURE PAYMENT OPTIONS

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MICRO MERCHANTS EYE FUTURE PAYMENT OPTIONS

While the big high street chains and major retailers move steadily towards cashless payments, ‘micro’ merchants – the small independent shops, the sole traders, the home-based businesses – are lagging behind. They cite the cost of cashless transactions, low demand from customers and the additional administrative time involved in reconciliation as the hurdles to adopting electronic payments.

Even so, there are many reasons why micro merchants should embrace cashless payments, and we believe that they will do so in increasing numbers.

Here are the main factors driving cashless payment take-up:

  • More customers want to make cashless payments.

The spread of contactless and smartphone payment systems means that consumers are growing used to cashless payments and many often leave home without much cash. Additionally, impulse purchases can be lost or limited by the cash a customer has with him or her. The more a merchant hears the phrase ‘I don’t have the cash’, the quicker they will adopt cashless payment technology.

From 1st January 2016, merchants in Austria with a turnover in excess of EUR15,000 per year will have to use a till system to process transactions. Similar legislation is anticipated elsewhere on the continent. So the days of unregulated and unaccountable cash payments are numbered.

  • Costs per cashless transaction will fall dramatically in future

Today there are cashless systems that charge as much as 3%on a transaction which is a disincentive to many merchants. But the prospect of peer-to-peer (P2P) and peer-to-merchant (P2M) payment systems, using mobile apps for example, will mitigate these costs and are likely to reduce the gap between cash and cashless transactions levels.

Emma Allen

Emma Allen

Technologies such as mobile payment service Pingit, offered in the UK by Barclays Bank andthe Zapp service, introduced by several banks, are increasing take-up by consumers, linking their bank accounts and their mobile phones, so that all you need to make a payment is your phone number.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Paymit service in Switzerland, introduced by SIX Payment Services, is growing in popularity. Six major Swiss banks – BanqueCantonale de Genève, BanqueCantonaleVaudoise, LuzernerKontonalbank, Raiffeisen, UBS and ZürcherKantonalbank – have signed up to the system, which needs only a Swiss mobile phone number and bank account, or credit/prepaid card, to operate. Recently, even Swisscom, the country’s largest telecommunication operator, entered into co-operation with SIX to help drive Paymit into retailing.

We think that this model, where banks take the lead in offering cashless payment systems to their customers, will become more common across Europe. This will increase the adoption rate and encourage micro merchants to join in and offer cashless options to their customers.

There are certainly still obstacles to widespread take-up of cashless payment systems by micro merchants, including high costs of adoption for some technologies and the administrative burden of reconciling transactions, versus the ease and flexibility of cash.

Where the transaction cost is higher than for cash, it is easy to understand the reluctance of micro merchants to offer cashless payments. They naturally feel that they are being pushed into adopting something which is more relevant to large retailers, with little perceptible upside for them. The high cost of technologies such asa point of sale terminal, for example, may dissuade some from acting.

For payment service providers, the challenge is to offer reliable cashless payment acceptance at low cost with easy reconciliation. Second generation mPOS devices provide low cost terminals linked to “pay-as-you-go” low cost web tills with mainstream merchant service charges.

Commonly, micro merchants may have the capacity to offer cashless payments, but only as a back-up, in case their customers are unwilling or unable to pay by cash. They prefer to take payment by cash but won’t lose out on the sale if this is not possible. This means that while take-up of the systems is increasing, actual use is rising less quickly.

The Payment Service Directive II, while it acts in the interests of European consumers by limiting surcharges, could potentially dampen micro merchants’ enthusiasm for cashless payments, since some have grown used to levying additional charges on card payments to cover the perceived difference in transaction costs they face.

There are also downsides from the payment services providers’ point of view: heavy KYC (know your customers) documentation and risk analysis costs mean that some providers prefer not to offer the full range of services to micro merchants. Banks and other providers who have thrived on merchant service charge income for decades now face an uncertain future, with P2P transactions undercutting their business model. Customers using services like Paymit are bypassing card payments and taking a chunk out of some providers’ income. Banks, card schemes and acquirers have to work out how they are going to make up this shortfall as P2P services grow, so the whole financial ecosystem is changing rapidly.

We believe that consumer demand will ultimately drive the uptake of cashless payment solutions amongst micro-merchants, particularly as new technology removes obstacles and reduces costs.  Legislation is also a factor in the process as regulators look to clamp down on untraceable payments.

So the message is clear: be prepared. Cashless payments are coming, like it or not.

Emma Allen is Head of Merchant Solutions at SIX Payment Services

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Northern Irish Brexit issue is two-way street, says EU’s Sefcovic

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Northern Irish Brexit issue is two-way street, says EU's Sefcovic 1

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain must show it is fully using the avenues available under the Brexit divorce deal to minimise trade disruption in Northern Ireland before seeking concessions, a senior EU official said on Tuesday.

Britain’s exit from the EU’s trading orbit in January has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland – which remains in the EU’s single market for goods – and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Maros Sefcovic, a vice president of the European Commission, said he hoped to learn of British efforts during an online meeting on Wednesday .

“I was also reminding my British partners that this must be a two-way street,” he told a news conference.

Sefcovic said real-time access to the IT systems of customs could smooth customs processes and a trusted trader scheme could ensure Northern Irish supermarkets were properly supplied.

“I hope that tomorrow… we will get feedback from our UK partners on how all these flexibilities and grace periods are being used because it’s clearly a pre-requisite for the EU, the Commission and the member states to assess any further requests,” Sefcovic said.

The EU’s insistence on Britain honouring its withdrawal treaty has left the British province of Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market and put a customs border in the Irish Sea dividing the province from mainland Britain.

Sefcovic said that there were inevitable consequences of Brexit so not everything could be resolved.

Members of Northern Ireland’s two largest pro-British parties have said they are set take part in legal action challenging part of Britain’s divorce deal.

However, Sefcovic said companies there might over time see the divorce arrangements as an advantage.

“Being in the single market and at the same time the internal market of the UK is actually a great business opportunity. And I hope that our joint work will amplify this possibility,” he said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Mark Potter)

 

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Calabrio charts record year-on-year UK growth as demand for cloud technology soars during lockdown

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How cloud technology can help you keep on top of your business finances

Digital transformation acceleration drives cloud contact centre adoption of Calabrio workforce engagement management technology

Calabrio, the workforce engagement management (WEM) company, has seen a strong growth trajectory in the UK during the last 12 months, despite the global pandemic. Achieving 30% year-on-year sales growth, Calabrio International has welcomed more than 150 new customers, with the UK adding a third of those from a wide range of industries including many online challenger businesses. In addition, Calabrio has made strategic new appointments to build its customer support network.

Calabrio charts record year-on-year UK growth as demand for cloud technology soars during lockdown 2

Kris Mckenzie

Kris McKenzie, SVP, Sales, International at Calabrio commented, “Our focus on cloud-first solutions has resonated well with our customers’ need to accelerate their digital transformation and move their contact centres to the cloud in order to maintain business continuity. At a time of uncertainty when consumers need robust support more than ever before, we are witnessing first-hand the cloud transformation of customer services by organisations looking to deliver the next level in customer experience. Modern businesses and contact centres using Calabrio are able to provide exceptional service to their customers through disrupted times.

“Coupled with businesses operating solely online, we have also seen strong demand across the board from more traditional sectors such as finance, insurance, retail, consumer goods, local and central government departments. These organisations require an innovative yet reliable solution to help them manage unprecedented levels in demand.”

When Calabrio surveyed its customers recently[i] 72% of organisations stated they are either moving to the cloud, are already there or plan to increase their investment in cloud technology in 2021. In order to support forward-thinking organisations looking to optimise their investment in cloud contact centre solutions, Calabrio has made two significant appointments.

Niall Gallacher has joined Calabrio as Business Intelligence (BI) strategic consultant and will be instrumental in the design of services that drive value from data and analytics, helping Calabrio customers to solve complex business problems. Before joining Calabrio, Niall spent 6 years with Qlik as Industry Solutions Director. He has 25 years of experience in data, analytics and BI, 15 of which have been with contact centres for leading companies in telecommunications, energy and high-tech industries.

Graeme Gabriel joins as a presales engineer, supporting Calabrio’s workforce engagement suite. He will work with customers to ensure that they achieve maximum benefit from their use of Calabrio solutions, no matter the remote, on-site or hybrid environment. Graeme has international experience encompassing telephony, contact centre, WFM, analytics and customer experience (CX) across a range of sectors, and has held consultancy, advocacy and planning positions at companies including Injixo, Vluent, QPC and AVIOS.

McKenzie concluded, “We welcome both Niall and Graeme to Calabrio, during what has been an incredible year of growth for Calabrio as we supported our customers through these challenging times. This is an exciting and dynamic time for Calabrio as we continue to deliver the value of our all-in-one cloud contact centre suite, including call recording, quality management (QM), WFM, speech analytics and business intelligence suitable for organisations of all shapes and sizes.”

[i] TechValidate survey of 192 users of Calabrio.  Published 29 December 2020.

 

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise 3

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp reported higher fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday and said it would start a two-year program that will change it from a holding company to an operating company.

The news and information company, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment, a gain from an amendment to pension plan and lower costs.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit.

It was not immediately clear if adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were directly comparable to the 46 cents expected.

Thomson Reuters’ markets are healthy and evolving, making this a good time to transition the company from a content provider to a “content-driven technology company,” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.

Workplaces have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and artificial intelligence has a larger role in professional markets, he said.

(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

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