American Express, Amazon Roll Out UK Credit Card Aimed At SMBs - pymnts.com

American Express, Amazon Roll Out UK Credit Card Aimed At SMBs - pymnts.com


American Express, Amazon Roll Out UK Credit Card Aimed At SMBs - pymnts.com

Posted: 29 Sep 2020 07:51 AM PDT

American Express on Tuesday (Sept. 29) launched a co-branded credit card with Amazon, targeting small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the U.K. "The cards offer a host of rich rewards and payment flexibility designed to help businesses better manage their cash flow," according to a press release.

The names for the new offerings are the Amazon Business American Express Card and the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card. During the checkout process, cardholders will have "the option to earn reward points or select a deferred payment term for each transaction," the release said. "Reward points can be earned anywhere American Express Cards are accepted and redeemed toward future Amazon purchases or applied to the balance" of cardholders' monthly statements.

The two companies already have a co-branded program in the U.S., and Amazon accepts American Express cards globally.

According to the release, the U.K. program comes at a time when "63 percent of British small businesses say cash flow issues have led them to delay purchasing goods and services they need to run their businesses." Nearly one-quarter of SMB participants said in a survey that they have put off big-ticket purchases over the past six months during the pandemic. In addition, 38 percent of participants said they are only purchasing "essentials" for their businesses at this time.

"We want to make it easier for businesses to manage their finances and continue accessing the goods and products they need — with more options to pay," said Colin O'Flaherty, American Express general manager of U.K. global commercial services. The cards will offer SMBs the option of selecting "how to pay, purchase by purchase," he added.

Earlier this month, Amex introduced its Pay Over Time option for SMBs that are holders of Green, Gold or Platinum Business Cards, effective at the start of their November billing cycle. The new option is aimed at helping customers "meet their cash flow management needs," the company said in a press release.

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PYMNTS TV LIVE OCTOBER SERIES: B2B PAYMENTS 2021 – WHAT WILL YOU CHANGE? 

Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border. Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

Q4 Outlook: Consumer Mindset Is The Wild Card - pymnts.com

Posted: 29 Sep 2020 08:02 AM PDT

The consensus opinions are starting to show up on the retail fourth-quarter calendar. With Amazon's confirmation of Prime Day and Target's follow-up of its Deal Days, it appears that the season will start on Oct. 13. It's fairly well accepted that holiday spending levels will be flat compared to 2019 – which, in the middle of a pandemic, is nothing short of miraculous. And the digital-first economy will drive the difference between success and failure for many retailers.

But these are the easy points. What's not so easy is to predict the nuances – and that's where the next two weeks will fill in the blanks when it comes to planning for Q4 2020.

The first nuance concerns exactly how much consumers will spend. Most predictions, as stated, show a flat spend level overall. But the consumer mindset will be the key as the pandemic continues to rage and the economy continues to look spotty.

According to Charles Lindsey, professor of economics and consumer spending specialist at the University of Buffalo, two kinds of consumers will show up for the holiday: the cautious and the sentimental. As he told PYMNTS, the cautious will hunt for bargains, spend accordingly and keep gift-giving on a practical level. The sentimental consumer will look at the misery 2020 brought in terms of the pandemic, social strife and political tensions and will have the mindset that "at least the holidays will be worth it." It's also probable, said Lindsey, that consumers who open their wallets a bit wider this year will spend some money saved from a lack of travel and dining out.

Lindsey noted that most retailers will notice four pervasive trends this year:

  1. There will be an earlier start running promos to gain an early advantage when competing for consumers' somewhat stagnated spending.
  2. Consumers will be more practical overall when it comes to their spending – both for themselves and others.
  3. The digital-first economy will continue to dominate retail.
  4. Consumers are currently saving their money at more than twice the rate they did a year ago.

"Another factor is family celebrations," Lindsey said. "The vast majority of people have indicated that those celebrations will look very different. They might be canceled. They might be smaller. And in terms of spending around those celebrations, I think consumers have indicated that they're going to spend less on big events and will also cut back on gifts. That could put a damper on the overall consumer mindset."

Experts expect an increase in demand for products and tangible gifts as opposed to experiential gifts (like concert tickets and events), as people are unsure of what the year ahead holds. "We've already seen this happen over the recent Mother's Day and Father's Day holidays, where popular general merchandise categories saw sales lift for the week … two and three times what it was in 2019," Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor of retail at The NPD Group, said in a release.

When retailers look at the calendar this year, they see a series of opportunities wrapped in events, whether it's Prime Day, Amazon's Black Friday series or traditional Black Friday. Lindsey sees a bit of a mess. He predicts that the number of occasions available to retailers will lead to a "wild west" of flash promotions, deep discounting and maybe even more events hitting the calendar – but he also believes that flat results compared to 2019 is a big win.

"The good news is, it doesn't look like we're going to have negative growth," he noted. "We can take some solace in the fact that we're in the midst of a pandemic and a struggling economy, and it still looks like we will  have positive growth – probably driven largely by online sales, where we're looking at maybe an increase of 25 to 35 percent over last year."

One of the other nuances will be the in-store customer experience, which has become an also-ran in this era of contactless interactions. At retail research company Medallia, the prevailing idea is that brick-and-mortar retail will have a chance to reinvent itself.

"Adopting a mindset of how to refashion vs. replace the physical store shopping experience will be what differentiates winners and losers in retail this holiday season," noted Medallia's blog. "Shoppers will still flock to the stores. For some, it will look like a quick, contactless curbside pickup, while for others it will come in the form of an exclusive, private appointment (from a safe, social distance of course). Regardless of how they choose to engage at physical locations, their expectation of seamless, highly personalized experiences remains unchanged, if not perhaps heightened, given the emotions that naturally come with the holiday hustle and bustle."

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PYMNTS TV LIVE OCTOBER SERIES: B2B PAYMENTS 2021 – WHAT WILL YOU CHANGE? 

Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border. Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

How can small businesses source finance during COVID-19 in the UK? - About Manchester

Posted: 29 Sep 2020 05:04 AM PDT

If you own a business which has felt the impacts of COVID-19, you may have struggled to find finances. Although many businesses have applied for financing from the UK Government, there still remain many businesses that are seeking alternative finance to keep their businesses going.

For those businesses that aren't sure where to turn for finance, should consider looking at the three sources of finance for inspiration. There are three sources of finance to consider if you're a small business:

  • External sources of business finance: This type of finance is when a business requires finance from entities that are external to the business. 
  • Internal sources of business finance: Internal sources of finance is when a business sources funds from within the business. Most businesses that resort to internal financing have been trading for a set amount of time. 
  • Personal sources of business finance: Personal sources of finance is when a business owner uses personal funds to help finance elements of the business.

Below are some examples of different finance options for those who are looking to help fund their business. It should be noted that business owners should ensure they thoroughly research funding options before they consider applying for business finance to know the necessary risks involved. 

Examples of external sources of business finance

Business loan

Business loans can be obtained by going to traditional lenders such as a bank. However, during COVID-19, many banks have been more reluctant to lend to businesses, which may make them harder to receive. Often a business bank loan will require an applicant to provide a good credit score, a detailed business plan, and sometimes valuable assets to be offered as collateral. 

If a high street bank isn't a viable option for you or your business, you can try approaching an alternative lender or credit broker. The lenders are more likely to offer loans to businesses who may have bad credit or have been trading for a shorter period of time. The downside of these loans is that the interest rate may be higher in comparison to traditional lenders and may limit the amount of money you can borrow.

Merchant Cash Advance

A merchant cash advance can be a really effective option for businesses that receive a lot of card payments, such as retail stores and restaurants. A merchant cash advance is a type of financing that is repaid via the money you generate through future debit and credit card sales. There is no interest rate attached to a merchant cash advance. Instead, there is a fixed-fee which will also be repaid via future card sales. 

This is an option to consider for small businesses whose business may be seasonal, which means it is in sync with a business' cash flow. 

Invoice financing

Invoice financing is a useful financing option for small businesses that rely on invoices for their business. One of the key issues with invoices is having to rely on your clients to pay the invoices accordingly. Frustratingly, many clients fail to pay their invoices on time which can have negative consequences for small businesses who rely on invoices to run the business smoothly.

Invoice financing allows businesses to borrow money to cover unpaid invoices that a client owes a business. An invoice financing company will lend you part of the money you're owed in the invoice. When the invoice is paid by the client, the business pays a percentage of the invoice amount back to the lender as a fee for borrowing the money.

It allows businesses to always have money in their pocket and means that they can maintain their cash flow effectively.

Examples of internal sources of business finance

Share capital

If your small business is a limited company, then you may have access to share capital, which allows the business to raise funds internally. One of the founders of the company may offer up financing for a greater portion of the company's shares. It can mean that the investor attains an equal amount of shares, which creates a co-ownership or the investor gains a controlling stake in the company, making them the majority shareholder.

This method isn't for everyone, especially those who don't want to relinquish their ownership of the company. So, remain cautious that the other investor is trustworthy and can help lead the business in a positive direction.

Sell assets

Selling assets is a really common way to free up some sources of internal finances for small businesses. Often the assets that are sold by companies are no longer used or rarely used by the business. In some cases, assets may be regularly used, but are sold to fund a more modern asset. For example, a business may sell a company car to help fund a new and more economical option. 

Examples of personal sources of business finance

Personal savings and investments.

Personal savings are an option if you're looking to quickly fund your business. As it is your own money, there is less pressure of having to repay your money back. People who opt for this source of finance usually give notice of withdrawal on their investments, withdraw their accrued savings, and put the money towards their official business capital amount.

However, the obvious risk of dipping into your personal savings is that you may not get that money back. Business owners should always leave some amount of money to live on, just in case of worst-case scenarios and especially as a result of the uncertainty in the pandemic.

Sale of personal property

Sale of personal property and assets are used by entrepreneurs who don't want to put themselves in debt or are struggling to find a loan. It is commonly used by startup entrepreneurs who are looking to finance their business. 

If you are selling personal property, you should ensure that they only sell property or assets that are not essential for your daily life.

Final Words

If your business is struggling as a result of the pandemic, make sure to check out the Government's advice and support for businesses. If you're suffering from personal financial issues as a result of the virus in the UK, then make sure to check out Citizens Advice.

Amazon One Lets Consumers Pay With Their Hand - pymnts.com

Posted: 29 Sep 2020 03:34 AM PDT

"Talk to the hand" will take on new meaning starting Tuesday (Sept. 29).

CNN reports Amazon has introduced the latest touchless way to pay at checkout. Dubbed Amazon One, the method allows users to pay with the palm of their hand at some of its stores.

The giant eCommerce website can now connect a stored credit card with a palm print. Here's how it works: place the palm of your hand above a sensor and purchase products at checkout-free Amazon Go stores.

For now, the feature will only be available at two Amazon Go stores in Seattle, at 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street and its store in South Lake Union at 300 Boren Avenue North. But there are plans to expand it across Seattle, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, the company said.

If it's a hit with users, Amazon plans to bring it to other retailers as well as performance venues and the nation's offices.

Dilip Kumar, Amazon's vice president of physical retail, told the network the technology had been in the planning stages long before the pandemic.

"I encourage people to try it, see how they like the experience, and then go from there," Kumar said.

On Amazon's blog, Kumar wrote, "Amazon One is a fast, convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities like paying at a store, presenting a loyalty card, entering a location like a stadium, or badging into work more effortless. The service is designed to be highly secure and uses custom-built algorithms and hardware to create a person's unique palm signature."

The initiative comes as shoppers continue to explore contact-free payment technology. Businesses, which have been seeking more tech solutions to COVID-19's challenges, may also find it appealing, CNN reported.

Still, some shoppers may be reluctant to provide Amazon with biometric data. The company has faced criticism from privacy advocates who are concerned about its facial-recognition software.

But Kumar insists the company is not storing any data on its store scanners. Instead, he said, the palm images are encrypted and stored online.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Sanjay Gupta, vice president and global head of products and corporate development at Mitek, the California-based software provider, said getting the most out of the tons of data generated by consumers while boosting identity assurance efforts requires a skillful interplay between humans and machines.

Gupta noted during the pandemic, huge numbers of people have avoided going to stores. Merchants, he said, are adding online customers — and many of those individuals are supplying identity documents, and in some cases selfies, to prove they are who they say they are.

"That's one area that has been growing over the past several years," said Gupta.

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PYMNTS TV LIVE OCTOBER SERIES: B2B PAYMENTS 2021 – WHAT WILL YOU CHANGE? 

Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border. Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

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