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WorldFirst Tackles UK SME Trading Struggles With New Solution: World Account

When SMEs look to trade abroad, they can often find themselves facing management challenges when it comes to organising and ensuring all their accounts in different regions are accurate and working as they should. Looking to alleviate this issue in the UK, WorldFirst, a one-stop digital payment and financial services platform for global businesses, has launched a new e-commerce growth solution.

Called the World Account, the new solution by the payments platform specifically focused on SMEs in international trade brings down the costs associated with making an international transfer for UK firms. Typically these costs which span compliance, FX and payment operations account for two to three per cent of the value of a transfer.

However, with the World Account this is reduced to less than 0.75 per cent, according to WorldFirst industry analysis. This helps SMEs boost their margins to sustain long-term business growth.

Untapped opportunity in cross-border e-commerce

Global trade is expected to grow by 3.3 per cent this year and retail e-commerce sales are expected to grow 8.8 per cent over the same period.

However, in the UK, the Office for National Statistics’ most recent Annual Business Survey of Exporters and Importers revealed that just over one in every 10 UK businesses (11.4 per cent) are involved in exporting. This is a number that had only risen by 0.7 per cent in the preceding three years. When polled by a UK bank, 80 per cent of businesses agreed that exporting is critical to their business’ future.

Bruce Ding, general manager of WorldFirst International Business, notes: “Against this backdrop, there’s an excellent opportunity for many more UK SMEs to tap into the opportunities of international trade. Despite the complexities involved in cross-border e-commerce, with the support of external partners like us, we’re seeing SMEs are increasingly optimistic about the opportunities presented by exporting overseas.”

In 2022, the total cross-border e-commerce market in Europe, including the United Kingdom, amounted to a turnover of €265billion (excluding travel). Of this total, €167billion, or 63 per cent, was generated by marketplaces. However, European countries are falling behind compared to those across South America and Asia, where multiple markets have seen significant growth in e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer.

Younger generations drive cross-border e-commerce

WorldFirst finds that more than 50 per cent of sellers using its cross-border e-commerce solution are Gen Z or Millennials. This suggests these generations of business leaders are more aware of global e-commerce opportunities.

Ding adds: “Consumers are increasingly buying directly through SMEs’ websites, online marketplaces and social media platforms. This means people are purchasing from businesses located across the globe without even realising they’re doing so. Younger business owners have spotted this opportunity to run their independent e-commerce stores or set up fronts on global e-marketplaces.”

However, challenges, ranging from the complexity in international payment and foreign exchange, payment fraud, and hidden service charges, still put away aspiring business owners, threat survival of start-ups and undermine durability of existing businesses.

To help solve these challenges, UK SMEs can streamline international operations by partnering with external vendors. UK business owners can open a World Account within minutes to be able to trade like a local around the world. The account supports payment collection with 14 local or cross-border accounts and pay-out in more than 40 currencies to over 130 countries and regions. WorldFirst’s extensive partnerships with key e-commerce platforms facilitate seamless cross-border transactions.

WorldFirst has a strong track record in driving growth in e-commerce for SMEs. WorldFirst is the top payment service firm by transaction volume for China-based e-commerce businesses which sell on international e-marketplaces, such as Amazon and Lazada. In January 2024, new customer acquisition by WorldFirst in South-east Asia increased 16 times and the overall transaction volume of its customers in the region grew by 90 per cent on year.


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