Each week, we take a look at some of the latest stories from UK fintech. This week: Klarna partners with Harrods for flexible payment options and managing money is most significant barrier to SMB international expansion.
Klarna partners with Harrods for flexible payment options
Klarna, the global retail bank, payments and shopping service, has today announced a partnership with luxury retailer Harrods, offering customers more flexible and convenient payment options.
Harrods UK in-store shoppers will be able to use Klarna’s Pay in 3 payment options for beauty purchases in Harrods iconic Beauty Hall, as well as across H beauty stores in Essex (Lakeside) and Milton Keynes (centre:mk). Further Harrods departments are set to roll out Klarna’s payment options in the coming months. Customers shopping the store via Harrods.com in the UK will also be able to benefit from splitting their payments via Pay in 3, whilst US customers can use Pay in 4 when purchasing goods online.
Alex Unitt, Partnerships Director at Harrods, said: “Harrods is known for providing a first-class shopping experience, and this latest partnership with Klarna enables us to give our Harrods customers maximum flexibility and convenient payment options.”
Managing money most significant barrier to SMB international expansion
International payments are the most significant barrier to British SMBs expanding internationally, according to new research by Wise Business.
The research, which saw YouGov poll more than 4,800 SMBs worldwide, found that almost a third (30%) of all British SMBs surveyed who have been put off from international expansion, have been put off by the cost and complexity of managing international payments. Handling tariffs and taxes (28%) came second, with supply chain disruption (24%) third.
James Bell, Head of Wise Business, said: “Lots of banks claim to help small businesses – the reality is different. Small businesses flourish when they look abroad, yet most are held back from ever doing so by an international banking system that works against them. Fees are hidden and prohibitive, services too slow and painful.
“At Wise Business, we believe small- and medium-sized businesses deserve better – that they should have the opportunity to become a micro-multinational, without a broken system getting in the way.”
Retail giants sign up to accept Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards
Some of the biggest names on the high street have signed up to accept the new Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards. Marks & Spencer, Boots, Primark and schuh are just some of the businesses where shoppers will be able to spend the pioneering new gift card and show their support for stores in their region.
Each has signed up all of its Scottish stores as merchants, meaning that customers will be able to spend the gift cards there as they become available locally. The Scottish Government is funding the rollout of gift cards across each of the country’s 32 local authority areas. Work is being led by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) as part of the Scotland Loves Local campaign. It is the first time that a local gift card programme has been delivered on this scale.
STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice said: “To secure such high-profile support is a significant show of confidence in the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards and their ability to become a major part of local economies across the country.
“It also shows the strength of commitment that these stores – and others – have for the communities in which they operate, creating another way in which local people can spend with them.”
Challenger Bank focused on British businesses reaches profitability in less than four years
Redwood Bank has announced that it has become one of the fastest Challenger Banks to reach profitability in a move to signal its clear establishment as a savings and lending provider for British businesses.
The Bank, headquartered in Hertfordshire and with a regional office in Warrington, has now achieved monthly profitability after attracting more than 5,000 customers. It has lent more than £400m supporting British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and attracted deposits of over £400m.
Redwood opened in August 2017 after being ‘born in the cloud’ and achieving one of the fastest ‘licence-to-launches’ in UK banking history. Having started with a team of 12, the Bank now employs more than 100 employees.
Gary Wilkinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Redwood Bank, said: “For far too long there has been limited choice for British businesses when it comes to banking. That has changed with the arrival of new Challenger Banks, which can provide a more nimble and dynamic service, with tailored solutions. We are proud to be different and proud to provide a better quality of service to our customers.”
Cyber-attacks remain one of the biggest threats to UK security
In its latest report, the House of Lords has announced that cyber attacks are among the top extreme risks the UK faces and the country is currently unprepared to assess and tackle future threats.
Following its year-long inquiry into the UK’s current risk assessment system, its risk committee concluded that the current setup was “not rigorous enough to justify the confidence placed in it” and that the Covid-19 pandemic had demonstrated the UK’s deficiencies in that regard. It urged that an attack on the country’s critical infrastructure could bring the UK to a halt.
Rani Osnat, SVP Strategy at Aqua Security, a specialist cloud-native security provider, said“In the wake of these challenges, in 2022, will see an emergence of CNAPPs, or cloud-native application protection platforms – an emerging category of security solutions recently defined by Gartner to help identify, assess, prioritise, and adapt to risk in cloud-native applications, infrastructure, and configurations. The prevalence of large-scale cloud-native deployments is forcing enterprises to combine ‘shift left’ DevSecOps, intelligent automation, CSPM (cloud security posture management) and CWPPs (cloud workload protection platforms) to bring efficiency and speed to cloud-native security.”
Ecospend partners with London Mutual Credit Union to enable ‘pay-by-bank’ services
Ecospend, a UK provider of Open Banking APIs, has announced a partnership with London Mutual Credit Union that will enable ‘pay-by-bank’ functionality to its customers. The change will result in real-time money transfers, driving the credit union further towards its vision of achieving a friction-free experience for customers.
Customers will be able to make payments directly from their account through biometric ID, creating an online payment method that does not require data or personal information. By making payments instant, London Mutual’s members will be able to better manage their cash flow and experience a streamlined process as there is no opportunity to enter incorrect details.
The payments journey will now bypass interim payment fees associated with a typical card transaction, ultimately helping customers save money and ensuring a safe and convenient customer journey from beginning to end. As processing costs are removed, the profits will be reinvested into the services that London Mutual Credit Union offers its customers.
James Hickman, COO, Ecospend, comments: “Customers are continuously favouring more convenient, secure and time-saving alternatives to traditional payment methods. We’re excited to offer ‘pay-by-bank’ to ensure a smooth, frictionless end-to-end customer journey for London Mutual Credit Union’s customers whilst offering them the chance to better manage their finances through instant transactions.”