Imagine, having the power to open a door to a world of truly international trading partners. And being able to leverage new technology to make payments faster and easier across 170 countries and territories.
Well, advancing technology makes all that possible; fintech is contracting our trading world. In the past, UK businesses might have only considered buying or selling with their European neighbours: now they are looking further afield for new opportunities.
In the aftermath of the UK’s vote on Brexit, such ambition is more important than ever. No matter what the final outcome of the negotiations, businesses will increasingly need the certainty and security of quicker, simpler payments around the world. And with Britain’s relationships with the rest of the European Union likely to remain fraught, they need to expand their horizons even further.
The good news is that many of them are already doing so. According to recent research by business groups such as the CBI and the FSB, the EU remains the UK’s biggest trade partner. However, an increasing number of UK SMEs are reaching out to new trading partners in Australia, China and New Zealand.
In almost any industry, there’s opportunity for international trade and new business connections. Today even the smallest service or product can expand on a global scale. And while larger businesses can struggle to adapt to rapidly changing technology, SMEs - being smaller and more agile - are perfectly positioned to utilise technology to their advantage, to new global corridors.
For example, Game Points Now Ltd, a UK gaming company with over 300,000 clients in Europe, was struggling to offer their clients an efficient and timely service. The challenges included a slow manual settlement confirmation, complex incoming payments reconciliation process and time-intensive receivables. By seeking expertise from Western Union Business Solutions, Game Points Now Ltd has the ability to send their products to customers before settlement reaches the bank, which helps them gain a competitive advantage and has improved cash management. As a result, the company says it has been able to grow European sales by 250%. An enviable result for any business.
Lacking in confidence
Indeed, many SMEs are not lacking in confidence, according to a recent report commissioned by Western Union Business Solutions, SMEs are increasingly willing to engage in key export markets. China represented the greatest export opportunity market for 35.4% of SMEs; India received 13.9% of the vote; Africa, 4.8%; and Brazil 4.1%. Furthermore, a third of UK SMEs have made a foreign currency transfer in the last three months, revealing strong international relationships with companies, suppliers and customers in other countries
We know that many small and medium businesses do not realise their own potential and are wary of expanding into overseas markets. Current figures show that 59.5% of SMEs see currency volatility as a key barrier to expansion into international markets. Similarly, only 10.2% of SMEs claimed to be very confident about global trade conditions, whilst 58.8% - the overwhelming majority – were only moderately confident. Significantly, 49% of UK SMEs have never traded in another currency, revealing a reluctance to export.
A sustainable solution
Part of the solution lies in trusted technology, which can give businesses the confidence to manage their finances with confidence. These new digital payment platforms are available to allow businesses to send and receive all their international cash flows in one place; enabling greater insight, control while acting as a sustainable solution to global growth.
We've created WU EDGE, unrivalled technology, giving companies access to new cash management capabilities like never before. Today we’ve announced that we're making it possible for businesses to engage even more easily in global trade, making fee-free payments to their suppliers in near real time. Using the new platform, businesses can instantly see the value of their foreign currency payables and receivables in their own currency, allowing them to make informed cash management decisions.
Furthermore, by advancing business operating efficiencies, WU EDGE brings together businesses, customers and suppliers located thousands of miles from each other. Features including the EDGE Network payment help to co-ordinate the accounts payable and receivable process between buyers and sellers and provide a mechanism for fee-free, near real-time fund transfers. Thus the EDGE platform can help businesses establish new international connections, directly supporting their overseas expansion efforts.
By viewing technology as a sustainable solution to international expansion and easier payments, businesses of all sizes, can achieve their ambitions. They can also help mitigate the impact, both short and long-term, of the current Brexit turmoil. A world of global market trading is as easy now, as selling or buying a product on the local high street.