In the race to deploy digital payments technology, small businesses have an opportunity to level the playing field with larger companies and better meet the demands of todays consumers.
Payment processors can play a strong role in closing the knowledge gap and helping small businesses get the technology needed. They can help educate their customers about the latest technology and its benefits and help them choose and implement the best payment solutions. In a competitive market, this strategy can have a substantial payoff for processors. Surveys by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and Goldman Sachs have found that loyalty-based solutions and value-added services help lower attrition and open new revenue streams.
Payments technology has the ability to deliver revolutionary change, but only if small businesses are able to invest in the right tools to take advantage of it. The most recent CAN Capital Small Business Health Index suggests that business owners may lack education in the latest payments technologies and therefore may be unsure about how to move ahead. For example, while more than half of small business owners said they are familiar with the transition to EMV (chip & PIN) credit cards, just 19 percent have taken steps to update their point-of-sale systems to be compatible with EMV.
Findings from the Small Business Health Index suggest that small business owners would welcome the help. Fewer than half (49 percent) said they expected their businesses to grow in the next 12 months, a decline from 58 percent in the September 2014 study. Business owners have concerns about everything from rising employment costs, competition and regulation, to new trends in digital marketing and digital payments.
While business owners are less upbeat than in the past, there is one thing that has changed in their favor. Access to capital, traditionally one of the biggest hurdles for small business, appears to have eased.
In the 2014 study, more than six in 10 small business owners said it was quite or extremely challenging to gain access to working capital. Now, fewer than four in 10 (38%) report that level of difficulty. As owners become more aware of the wide array of options available to businesses seeking access to capital, which today include not only bank or government loans, but also alternative finance companies and crowdfunding, it will be easier for owners to make the investments needed to update their payments systems.
As technology races ahead, payment processors have a great opportunity to help their customers stay competitive. Given the raft of challenges they face, its not surprising that small business owners are anticipating slowing growth in the next 12 months. With the help of their payments processor partners, however, small businesses may be able to exceed their own expectations.
James Mendelsohn is Chief Marketing Officerat CAN Capital, Inc.