Every Wednesday, we delve into the latest fintech updates from across the UK. Today we hear about a new guide for empowering SMEs, while Plum expands its European services.
Plum unveils stock investment and debit cards in Europe
Smart money app Plum has launched a stock investing and a debit card for its customers in France, Belgium, Spain and Ireland.
Customers can access more than 500 US stocks that can be bought or sold directly within the app. A premium tier option later this month, will deliver a broader range of stocks – up to 3,000 stocks in companies from around the world.
Plum, which has 1.3 million customers, is also offering a debit card, which is 100 per cent biodegradable, recyclable and available at no extra cost for its subscription customers. The plum-coloured VISA debit card can be used to pay online, contactless or directly at the merchant.
Victor Trokoudes, CEO and co-founder of Plum says: “Our goal is to make Plum the only personal finance app our customers will ever need. Plum is rapidly and successfully expanding across Europe, opening to new markets, and launching innovative features to help people achieve their financial goals.”
Zoho reveals significant UK growth
Zoho has announced a 40 per cent year-on-year growth and significant investment with a new team and office in the past year. It also plans to double its UK team by the end of next year.
Its new office in Bletchley adds to its growing swathe of European offices. It has also introduced a new team of sales, customer support and marketing staff including UK MD Sachin Agrawal.
Sridhar Iyengar, MD of Zoho Europe, said: “The UK continues to be a core strategic market for us and has so much untapped growth potential. It is our biggest market in Europe and one in which we have held customers for over 20 years and we are driving to further strengthen our market position here. In a challenging economic landscape we are increasing UK investment and are well positioned to weather the storm.”
VRP can end ‘subscription traps’: TrueLayer and YouGov
TrueLayer has examined subscription spending and payments in the UK. Three quarters of Brits are spending money on subscriptions they don’t regularly use and more than half would prefer them to be easier to cancel.
Jana Reid, head of bank partnerships at TrueLayer, says: “At a time when budgets are under increased pressure, these figures demonstrate that people want more control over their finances and too many are caught in subscription traps.
“Open banking can transform this by giving control and flexibility to consumers, allowing them to see and make changes to subscriptions more easily via their banking app.”
TrueLayer says the introduction of Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) could help address transparency and control issues but is reliant on banks implementing commercial agreements.
UK Government partnership to support UK businesses
B2B trade finance fintech Trade Finance Global (TFG) has forged a new partnership with the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Export Finance (UKEF) to produce the UK Trade & Export Finance Guide.
The guide is aimed at empowering SMEs with the confidence and knowledge to grow their business overseas. The also provides UK exporters with detailed information regarding UKEF’s trade finance and insurance products for a more complete picture of the sector.
Mark Abrams, global head of trade and receivables finance at TFG, explains: “During these uncertain times a guide such as this one can really help shed light on UK trade and export requirements.
“This guide hopes to combat these challenges by providing a definition of trade finance, covering key finance products, where to go to for support and outlining two UK case studies. It subsequently provides an insight into the trade cycle, along with the nuances of undertaking or expanding international trade ventures in the context of the financing gap.”
‘Banks won’t lend to small businesses’ research reveals
Fintech Sonovate has released research that shows small businesses are struggling to access finance from mainstream providers, and are having to turn to alternative forms of finance.
More than a quarter (26 per cent) of business leaders surveyed have had difficulties accessing finance from main banks, over a third (38 per cent) say that banks don’t understand their business needs
However, a third (37 per cent) of businesses say that alternative lenders make it easier to access funding, while three-quarters (76 per cent) say that invoice financing tools have greatly benefited their business.
Richard Prime, co-founder and co-CEO at Sonovate, said: “It is evident that business owners across the country are struggling to access finance through traditional means. On the whole, banks and mainstream lenders have not kept up with the needs of today’s businesses, and lack the agility, scalability and speed to provide organisations with critical funding.
“Alternative finance is perfectly positioned to plug this gap, and provide business owners with a lifeline through what is an incredibly challenging period, where funding is likely to be needed more than ever to grow the business.”