Besides acknowledging opportunities for the small-business credit card market, Aite Group's report "Small-Business Credit Cards: An Opportunity for All" suggests various roadblocks also exist that are hampering the market's growth. While overall check use is declining, many small-business owners continue to use checks for routine payments because the leading small-business accounting software systems are check-based, and credit card payments demand extra steps, Aite contends. The economic downturn's effect on the credit environment also has discouraged some creditworthy small-business borrowers from applying for cards. Financial institutions could capture more volume by promoting to small-business owners the operational advantages of shifting more payments from checks to credit cards, including increased security and the potential elimination of check fees, Aite suggests. They also may gain market share by integrating credit cards into small-business online-banking platforms and by partnering with small-business accounting-software developers to help improve card-payment options, the report notes. Moreover, financial institutions might also increase their small-business card market share by enhancing their card-lending terms, Aite says. "With lending down, higher interest rates on cards and less favorable terms, financial institutions may be making cards less attractive to small businesses," the report says. If financial institutions were to more aggressively pursue this market, credit cards could account for 14% of small-business spending by 2012 from 4% today, Aite concludes.

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