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B2B businesses are increasingly enticed by the appeal of B2B e-commerce platforms, which unlock powerful analytics, feed them real-time customer data, connect tools and sales channels, and even help to re-energise customer experience (CX). 

Like just about every trend in the digitalisation space, B2B e-commerce shot up in the wake of COVID-19. At a time when many offices, wholesale stores, depots, and warehouses had to close, or severely limit the number of people allowed on site, B2B e-commerce helped keep other sales channels open. But B2B e-commerce isn’t just a pandemic fad that’s fading out as we return to “normal.” On the contrary, as 2022 continues, we’re likely to see even more B2B businesses moving to e-commerce platforms. Here’s what’s fueling that shift, and why it’s not likely to go away any time soon.

The rise of the ‘business consumer’

B2B buyers are also consumers, and the line between the two personas is becoming increasingly blurred. Today, everyone is used to the personalisation, fast response times, self-service ordering experience and ease of comparison that they enjoy when shopping online, and we want the same experience in our work lives. 

It’s even more true for millennials, the first digital-native generation, who make up a greater percentage of B2B buyers every year. Research by Gartner found that 44% of millennial business buyers want a seller-free sales experience, compared with 33% of buyers from other cohorts. 

That preference was only strengthened by the pandemic. After several months of shopping only, or primarily, online, B2B customers lack the patience for phone calls, RFPs, email threads, and in-person meetings. 

With an e-commerce platform, B2B businesses can offer a personalised customer journey, range of payment methods, and transparent pricing and stock information that the business buyer of today and tomorrow craves. 

The growth of omnichannel sales

Another way in which B2B sales trends are mirroring those of B2C is the growth of omnichannel sales, with McKinsey reporting that 83% of B2B leaders see omnichannel driving more leads and sales than traditional approaches. Buyers expect to be able to switch effortlessly between channels without anything disturbing their shopping experience, whether they’re buying a smartphone, office supplies or a CRM solution. 

B2B e-commerce streamlines omnichannel sales, making it possible to connect and manage all your channels from a central operating hub. It also supports automation, so you can ensure that prices, stock levels, and delivery times are accurate, adjusted in real-time, and consistent across every channel, no matter how often they fluctuate. 

The increasing complexity of B2B sales cycles

B2B sales journeys are growing more complex all the time, with different pricing structures and bundled features. Additionally, B2B buyers are following the trend of consumers and demanding more personalised solutions and product suggestions, which requires rich customer data, powerful analytics, and encyclopedic resources documenting every product feature and the pain point it comes to resolve. 

It’s extremely difficult for human employees to meet these expectations, and even harder for them to do so within the short timeframe that buyers demand. 

B2B e-commerce platforms can track customer behaviour, crunch data to understand customer needs, and integrate those insights with data about inventory levels and competitor pricing and offerings to produce timely, relevant customer recommendations even about complex bundled products with dynamic pricing. 

The precarious supply chain

The supply chain crisis of 2020-21 may have been sparked by the pandemic, but it wasn’t created by it, and it’s not going away with the development of vaccines. Now that COVID-19 has thrown a spotlight over the systemic flaws in the system, they are impossible to ignore.  What’s more, things might get worse. Successive variants continue to disrupt shipments in unexpected ways, and Forrester predicts that  “shortage” will be the name of the game in 2022. 

As components, raw materials, and finished products all risk being hard to find at crucial times, shipment routes have to change quickly. With market conditions fluctuating, B2B businesses will need to be able to react fast. 

The superior data and analytics delivered by e-commerce platforms offer visibility into customer preferences and purchase history, supporting improved demand forecasting, while also giving insight into logistics performance so sellers can choose better shipping partners. It also gives B2B buyers transparency into stock levels, shipping times, and real-time pricing, helping avoid the frustration of having to make changes after placing an order. 

The ‘great resignation’

Between the “great resignation,” an ongoing shortage of digital talent, and so many fatalities and long-term disabilities due to COVID-19, there are gaps in the workforce that are likely to continue to go unfilled for a long time to come. Just like many other verticals, B2B businesses are feeling their impact and need ways to plug the holes. B2B e-commerce is one such solution. By automating many time-consuming sales tasks, B2B companies can assign human employees to tasks that can't be replaced by automation or robotics. At the same time, automation helps to reduce the risk of manual errors and speed up transaction times. 

B2B e-commerce platforms could save the day in 2022

With B2B businesses facing more, not fewer, challenges in 2022, the adoption of e-commerce platforms is only likely to accelerate. By helping enterprises cope with multichannel sales and marketing, a fractured supply chain, labour shortages, complex sales, and changing buyer expectations, e-commerce platforms are likely to play an ever more important role. 

With consumers these days growing extremely comfortable with digital channels and online buying experiences, B2B marketers are evaluating how their strategies fit into this new world. 

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this behavioral change has been reduced reliance on analyst research reports. A 2020 report by TrustRadius indicates that just 21% of B2B buyers rely on analyst reports.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports are an eagerly awaited and prestigious release every year. However, with the reduced reliance on research reports and increased trust placed on peer review platforms, are Gartner's reports even relevant anymore? The truth is that there isn't a clear yes or no answer. 

Examining the facts through three key aspects of the B2B buyer's decision journey is instructive.

The Buyer's Journey

Business buyer journeys are getting more complex. Blog posts and other content assets are important first touchpoints, but company websites, social media conversations, product mentions, trade shows, video and audio content and sponsorships all play a major role in grabbing a consumer's attention at first.

Trustworthiness is the most important factor that consumers look to evaluate throughout their journey.

To this end, TrustRadius's report mentions that buyers use a company's website and product pages to determine how trustworthy they are. Furthermore, 87% of buyers want a self-service journey and do not want sales rep or marketing interference.

Trustworthiness is the most important factor that consumers look to evaluate throughout their journey.

This means that marketers have to adopt a soft-touch approach while maintaining consistent messaging throughout your channels.

Research reports and analyst mentions might not entirely help establish trust in a consumer's mind, but they do provide social proof. When a brand lands a favourable mention in one of Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports, the result is instant validation that the company is a major player in their space. Your company's categorisation in its quadrant quickly helps establish your specialty and nature in a consumer's mind.

However, increasingly, business buyers are looking beyond these factors. A company that doesn't allow consumers to self-service their journey through product trials is going to find itself out in the cold. An analyst mention isn't going to do the trick all by itself. You need to provide as much value and information as possible before you ever meet their clients face to face.

Credibility and Reviews

TrustPilot's report singles out product reviews and review content as the most important part of a B2B consumer's buying decision. It also highlights a disconnect between what companies focus on and what consumers want. 

Most companies focus on their product's score instead of conversations around actual value and customer delight.

This is an important distinction to make. Secondary social conversation sites such as Twitter, Reddit and Quora offer tons of review content that users routinely review. These sites don't offer scores and can be ignored by B2B vendors. Review content performs the same function as a customer referral does, and this is why these secondary social websites are so powerful.

TrustRaidus's data highlights customer referrals as the most effective marketing tactic followed by personalized messages, online events and SEO. On the surface, it seems as if analyst reports have no major role to play in any of it. However, analyst mentions can augment many of these tactics. For example, a backlink from a high authority analyst website will boost your domain's authority considerably.

TrustRadius graph

Sponsoring a research firm's online thought leadership event is an instant way to get your brand in front of thousands of potential clients. While it doesn't convey credibility all by itself, it helps your company occupy mind space and is one block in a larger picture.

It prompts consumers to conduct further research into you, and as long as you back it up with marketing that provides value, you'll engage and delight consumers.

Impartially Assess Industry Impact 

Technology trends change quickly, and buyers often find themselves overwhelmed when tasked with keeping pace. Choosing a product that is behind its industry's direction could prove highly problematic, especially given that more sophisticated tech tools often involve extended onboarding processes and contractual lock-ins. 

Gartner's MQR paints a quick picture for consumers that they can then use to conduct further research.

Gartner's report classifies companies as leaders, visionaries, niche players, and challengers. Buyers can choose their preferred vendors based on the challenges they're facing. For example, an enterprise that needs an end to end solution might be better served by a leader instead of a niche player. However, if their need is concentrated, a niche player might be a better fit.


Analyst reports also offer insight into the trends an industry can expect moving forward. Whether consumers choose to listen to them or not, the fact is that these reports play a critical role in determining which trends consumers pay attention to. 

Positioning your product per these trends, with the characteristics of its relevant quadrant will raise your company's profile.

A Rounded Approach

The key as always is to adopt a well-rounded approach that supports your consumer's needs throughout their journey. Focusing solely on analyst reports, no matter how prestigious they are, is not a good strategy moving forward. Seek to provide value throughout the journey and avoid a PR-like approach at all costs.

Ammar Akhtar, co-founder and CEO at Yobota, explores the steps necessary to the creation of successful fintech.

The first national lockdown in March highlighted the importance of the quality and functionality of digital banking solutions. Indeed, most of us quickly became accustomed to conducting our financial affairs entirely online.

Financial services providers have needed to adapt to this shift, if they were not already prepared, and consumers will continue to demand more. For instance, Yobota recently surveyed over 2,000 UK adults to explore how satisfied customers are with their recent banking experiences. The majority (58%) of banking customers said they want more power to renegotiate or change their accounts or products, with a third (33%) expressing frustrations at having to choose from generic, off-the-shelf financial products.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more responsive and personalised banking services, with the research highlighting that people are increasingly unlikely to tolerate being locked into unsuitable financial products. This is true across all sectors of the financial services landscape; from payment technologies (where cashless options have become a necessity as opposed to a trendy luxury) to insurance, the shift to “quality digital” poses challenges throughout the industry.

Providers and technology vendors must therefore respond accordingly and develop solutions that can meet such demands. Many financial institutions will be enlisting the help of a fintech partner that can help them build and deploy new technologies. Others may try to recruit the talent required to do so in-house.

The question, then, is this: how is financial technology actually created, and how complicated is the task of building a solution that is fit for purpose in today’s market?

Compliance and regulation

The finance sector is heavily regulated. As such, compliance and regulatory demands pose a central challenge to fintech development in any region. It is at the heart of winning public trust and the confidence of clients and partners.

Controls required to demonstrate compliance can amount to a significant volume of work, not just because the rules can change (even temporarily, as we have seen in some cases this year), but because often there is room for interpretation in principle-based regulatory approaches. It is therefore important for fintech creators to have compliance experts that can handle the regulatory demands. This is especially important as the business (or fintech product) scales, crosses borders, and onboards more users.

The finance sector is heavily regulated. As such, compliance and regulatory demands pose a central challenge to fintech development in any region.

Businesses must also be forthcoming and transparent about their approach towards protecting the customer, and by extension the reputation of their business partner. Europe’s fintech industry cannot afford another Wirecard scandal.

Compliance features do not have to impede innovation, though. Indeed, they may actually foster it. To ensure fintech businesses have the right processes in place to comply with legislation, there is huge scope to create and extend partnerships with the likes of cybersecurity experts and eCommerce businesses.

The size and growth of the regulation technology (regtech) sector is evidence of the opportunities for innovations that are actually born out of this challenge. The global regtech market is expected to grow from $6.3 billion in 2020 to $16.0 billion by 2025. Another great example would be the more supportive stance regulators have taken to cloud infrastructure, which has opened up a range of new options across the sector.

Addressing technical challenges 

It is the technical aspect of developing fintech products where most attention will be focused, however. There are a number of considerations businesses ought to keep in mind as they seek to utilise technology in the most effective way possible.

Understanding the breadth of the problem

The fintech sector is incredibly broad. Payment infrastructure, insurance, and investment management are among the many categories of financial services that fall under the umbrella.

A fintech company must be able to differentiate its product or services in order to create a valuable and defensible competitive advantage. So, businesses must pinpoint exactly which challenges they are going to solve first. Do they need to improve or replace something that already exists? Or do they want to bring something entirely new to the market?

The end product must solve a very specific problem; and do it well. A sharp assessment of the target market also includes considering the functionality that the technology must have; the level of customisation that will be required from a branding and business perspective; and what the acceptable price bracket is for the end product.


Knowing your client

In the same vein, as a vendor it is important to be specific and strategic when it comes to pursuing the right clients. A fintech might consider itself to be well-positioned to cater to a vast selection of different businesses; however, it’s important to have a very clear target client in mind. This will ensure product and engineering teams have a clear focus for any end goal.

The value of a good cultural fit should also not be underestimated. The business-to-business relationship between a fintech and its client (a bank, for example), particularly at senior levels, is just as important as finding the right niche. There must be a mutual understanding of what the overall vision is and how it will be achieved, including the practical implementation, timeline and costs.

Balancing “best tech” with (perceived) “best practice”

Leveraging the newest technology is not always the best approach to developing a future-proof proposition. This has been learned the hard way by many businesses keen to jump on the latest trends.

Shiny new technology like particular architectures or programming languages can have an obvious appeal to businesses looking to create the “next big thing”. But in reality, the element of risk involved in jumping on relatively nascent innovations could set back progress significantly.

The best technology systems are those that have been created with longevity in mind, and which can grow sustainably to adapt to new circumstances. These systems need to run for many years to come, and eventually without their original engineers to support them, so they need to be created in modern ways, but using proven foundational principles that can stand the test of time.

Curating a positive user experience

To revert back to my original point, fintech businesses cannot forget about the needs of the end customer. There is no better proof point for a product than a happy user base, and ultimately the “voice of the customer” should drive development roadmaps.

The best technology systems are those that have been created with longevity in mind, and which can grow sustainably to adapt to new circumstances.

Customer experience is one of the most important success factors to any technology business. Fintechs must consider how they can deftly leverage new and advancing technology to make the customer experience even better, while also improving their underlying product, which users may not necessarily see, but will almost certainly feel.

Another important consideration is ease of integration with other providers. For example, identity verification, alternative credit scoring, AI assisted chatbots and recommendation algorithms, next generation core banking, transaction classification, and simplification of mortgage chains – these are all services which could be brought together in some product to improve the experience of buying a mortgage, or moving home.

Progressive fintech promotes partnerships and interoperability to reduce the roadblocks that customers encounter.

The human side of fintech

Powerful digital solutions cannot be created without the right people in place. There is fierce competition for talent in the fintech space, especially in key European centres like London and Berlin. Those who can build and nurture the right team will be in a strong position to solve today’s biggest challenges.

In all of these considerations, patience is key. It takes time to identify new growth opportunities; to build the right team that can see the vision through; and to adapt to the ever-changing financial landscape. Creating fintech is not easy, but it is certainly rewarding to see the immense progress being made and the inefficiencies that are being tackled.

 APIs allow us to make payments seamlessly, reaching the global marketplace at our fingertips, by transmitting information from one piece of software to another.

But as APIs become increasingly part of our day-to-day transactions, how can we make sure they are the best fit for the service users and that they do not fall into the trap of prioritising style over substance? Finance Monthly hears from Henry McKeon, Innovation Architect at moneycorp.

Banks, fintechs and APIs

For incumbent banks, APIs give the opportunity to expand their customer reach, by offering a more accessible range of services, along with potential partnership opportunities with fintechs. However, due to the business model of the bigger banking institution, they are inherently less agile than their fintech counterparts, meaning they often come up against barriers in the development of their API offerings.

On the other hand, we see a number of fintechs who rush to get their API service to market in order to serve their customer base – who are more likely to be tech-savvy. And while they have an agile business model that allows then to be flexible in adapting customer solutions, they don’t have the heritage and pre-built trust with the general public, along with the years of customer feedback to implement into their systems.

The customer at the core

Fundamentally, a successful API has the customer at the very core. In the first instance, it’s vital that the provider looks at the specific customer requirements and relates those needs directly to the API services.  Working closely with end customers helps to provide a better understanding of customer requirements and helps to structure the API offering. In building an API offering, developers should look to engage a number of existing customers to understand their requirements and to offer the functionality that would service clients across a wide variety of industries and needs.

Fundamentally, a successful API has the customer at the very core.

Some customers need efficiency in order to operate at scale; keying payment transactions manually via a web portal doesn’t scale and is error prone. Mass payment file processing provides efficiency and reduces errors but is not always what our high-tech customers are looking for. They want open API services so that they can link their platform directly to payment and foreign exchange services, they want to drive transactions from their own platforms directly. Having the ability to access services via API instead of via files provides the ultimate flexibility.

Building a central set of API endpoints, which provide the core banking on a multi-currency wallet, global and local beneficiary validation, international payment capabilities, peer-to-peer facilities for instant transfers, and 24/7 multi bank dealing and transactional and statement capabilities is part of the core requirement which help service customer needs.

Different industries have different requirements

The diverse needs of the customer journey are put into perspective when looking at invoice factoring customers who service short term debt. They need strong banking facilities for receiving and auto-allocating incoming money. Receiving is a key part of the banking offering, so doing that quickly and across a multi-currency account is a core part of our offering. Having account tiering (Parent-Child segregation) also helps with segregating money and reconciliation.

Invoice factoring companies need efficient pay out capabilities, for paying suppliers (early) and paying back to investors at the end of the agreed term. As a result, the ability for an API to provide speed, global coverage and multi-channel capabilities are crucial. Building receiving information into the API, providing instant access to balancing and received funds, along with the referencing on incoming money therefore becomes a fundamental requirement. This allows customers to understand the source of the money, so they can do checking an allocation on their own platform.


Freelancing companies are another good use case for APIs. By their very nature, they are collecting and paying consultant salaries and need to be able to capture consultant bank details accurately and securely. In addition, they want to be able to validate these bank details at the point of capture, instead of at the point of payment, in order to avoid any errors or delays. Having the ability to validate local and global bank routing information at the point of entry using an API is a big advantage. Having a validation rules engine enables clients to dynamically configure the capture screens on the source freelancing system. In showing the mandatory banking fields required for each country and currency, it provides clarity on the required fields and validation of the banking details captured as part of the API offering. This functionality fundamentally helps eliminate payment failures, reduce rework and costs in the payment process.

When working with clients running freelancing sites, you’ll often find that they also require FX conversion and payment facilities which need to be embedded into the API to facilitate global pay out requirements. Local payout facilities also help reduce costs of transmission and receipt, as sending through expensive international channels is not always suitable.

This is also echoed in the requirement for shipping companies, that need to be able to pay efficiently for port calls globally. Having access to a wide range of international payments routes and currencies is essential to provide a full service. For example, at moneycorp we have partnered with Inchcape Shipping to provide Smartpay which services the world's maritime industry. Smartpay simplifies the payment process, providing efficiency and transparency and helping to centralize treasury and FX and payment services for the group.

FX providers give substance and style

In the fast-evolving world of API solutions, style is impossible to achieve without substantive attention to detail. This is even more apt in the space of foreign exchange, where achieving speed, efficiency and security can be more of a challenge due to the nature of banking across borders. In this space, to be successful, an API needs the agility of a fintech to evolve to rapidly changing consumer needs but be backed by substantive banking networks and expertise to execute payments securely and quickly across currencies, markets and time zones.

Up to $15 billion is expected to be spent by brands investing in influencer marketing by 2022. Influencer marketing brings a significant boost to many industries, and many B2B and B2C businesses now rely on influencers to extend their reach. This trend doesn’t exclude the fintech industry, and many digital banks, including Starling and Revolut, now use influencers in their marketing strategies. However, using influencer marketing requires careful thought, and there are certain rules regarding its use, which need to be considered carefully by fintech companies.

Fintech companies can benefit from influencer marketing

So long as the influencers are chosen to suit the niche, influencer marketing can be as beneficial to the fintech industry as it can to any other business. Influencers have the power to improve a business’s reach and visibility, demonstrate authority and target the right audience immediately. This is a valuable asset to any business operating in the fintech niche, but to be used to full effect, businesses need to choose an influencer whose lifestyle and message coincides with the brand’s ethos. Potentially, when used well, this gives fintech companies a chance to reach a much wider audience than they can through traditional advertising. However, although advertising standards authorities have guidelines for influencers, none of them relate specifically to financial products or services, which means those working in the niche need to tread carefully.


Advertising regulations for influencers

Advertising guidelines state that influencers should use ‘#ad’ to tag any post they’re paid for: this is the minimum an influencer needs to do to legally promote a product or service. They are required to consider the demographics of their audience, as age-restricted products must not be promoted to underage followers. Although this rule doesn’t apply directly to financial products and services, companies and the influencers they work with must be aware of the demographics of the audience, as many financial products do come with age-related criteria.

Lack of regulations for financial services

There are no regulations for fintech companies using influencer marketing, but this is problematic because the majority of an influencer’s reach extends to a young audience. Advertising guidelines are currently focused on influencers labeling ads rather than on the products and services they’re promoting. For regulations to be established, close co-operation would need to be achieved between the advertising and financial regulators, but this has not happened yet. While this may be good news for fintech companies who can find influencers willing to promote their products, it’s more problematic for the consumer. The ideal situation would be that influencers truly believe in the companies they’re promoting. However, the algorithms on social media make it difficult to know for certain whether influencers or the brands they work with are operating with a full awareness of what they’re promoting. Consumers, therefore, are urged to research all products promoted by influencers before making a commitment.

Influencer marketing is one of the most successful marketing strategies any business can employ, but regulations are minimal. This is particularly problematic in the financial sector, as there are ethical considerations to be aware of in the promotion of any financial service or product. Consequently, although influencer marketing is a valuable tool for a fintech company, consumers must be wary when choosing products promoted by influencers. However, providing consumers conduct independent research, influencers can be helpful in informing them about new financial products.

eCommerce is booming and it looks like it’s here to stay, with some 24 million sites across the globe selling an array of products and services. There are many factors that have led to this phenomenon — from ubiquitous connectivity to the ease of building a website, right through to the millennial desire for more flexible, remote working arrangements. Plus, there's the added attraction of being your own boss from the outset. There is no doubt that the future is looking rosy for e-commerce. Nasdaq research indicates that by the year 2040, around 95% of all purchases will be online. The question isn’t if or when, but how to open an e-commerce business that can grant you the biggest gains for your investment. Below, Karoline Gore shares her advice with Finance Monthly.

B2C or B2B?

The two most common e-commerce business categories are B2C (companies selling items to individual consumers) and B2B (those selling to other businesses). Each has its upsides and downsides. For instance, practically anyone with an enterprising mind and a good business plan can set up a B2C business, since you can keep costs and production low until demand deems it is time to step up your game (and your investment). On the other hand, competition is high in this industry and your team has to be solid (and big) enough to answer questions quickly, deal with customer complaints, and the like. With B2B, orders are likely to be large but may be less frequent. B2B also imposes a stronger pressure on companies to lower profit, since other companies will undoubtedly aim to attract your clients with more attractive prices.


Thinking Out of the Box

If you have a product that is in high demand or you find a niche market for something you are selling, it is key to utilise a model that will boost customer loyalty so you can have a sustained income while thinking of how to expand or broaden your target. One that is working quite well is subscription boxes. Within a period of just four years, this market expanded by an impressive 890%. If you are thinking of launching a subscription company, ask yourself if you can deliver goods on time, do so regularly, and include something that gives your clients real value. This could be an item that is difficult to access (such as a designer or bespoke piece), a discounted item, or a new product to discover. When calculating costs, don’t just think of the goods and packaging. but also of those involved in website and brand design, web hosting, and incorporation fees.

What Companies are Achieving Success?

Some of the most successful e-commerce businesses to date are following one of a select group of models, including dropshipping. Many startups choose to work with this model via Amazon, but competition in this marketplace is tough. It might be a better idea to use a platform like SaleHoo, Spocket, or Oberlo. The latter, for instance, will allow you to see how many page views, sales, and star rankings items have. Other successful models include private labelling (you order the product you develop from a manufacturer then brand, develop and sell it); and wholesaling (to private customers and other businesses). The model you ultimately choose depends on your target market, the nature of your product, your budget, and your short- and long-term goals.

Some of the most successful e-commerce businesses to date are following one of a select group of models, including dropshipping.

Finding Inspiration

Top e-commerce companies that started small may provide you with the inspiration you need. Take a model as seemingly simple but brilliant like Beer Cartel — a craft beer service that introduces urbanites to unique bottles from all over the world. See how sustainability and profitability can work hand in hand in companies like Bundle Baby, which makes eco baby diapers in the cutest colors and prints imaginable. Think of how the founders of Bella Bean Organics used their own farm-made products to enlighten gourmets on everything from homemade pasta to flavor-packed tomato sauce or traditional toffee treats.

The market for e-commerce is so wide that making your mark on it will involve research, vision, and commitment. Do your research before starting, so as to identify market and demand. Opt for a model that is going strong. Finally, put love and care into every aspect of your business, including your branding, social media, and packaging.

 While some are interested in obtaining a bit of extra liquidity for personal use, others are motivated due to the fact that such funds can be used to become partnered with a trusted B2B ecommerce platform.

The main question involves whether or not virtual trading represents a sound fiscal strategy or an unnecessary risk. Let us take a look at this subject from a decidedly objective point of view in order to better appreciate the big picture.

Valid Promises or Smoke and Mirrors?

Countless virtual trading platforms claim that financial freedom is only moments away when using their utilities and tools. However, the fine print tells another story. It stresses the fact that online trading involves a fair share of risk and such a strategy should only be undertaken by those who are capable of absorbing substantial losses within a short period of time. The main question therefore involves whether or not both of these claims are justified.

The first main takeaway point is that each trader will have to define his or her own levels of acceptable risk. As opposed to trading for fun or as a side project, those who are looking to obtain extra liquidity for a business venture need to be very careful in regards to what strategies are adopted. In other words, is the ultimate risk worth the expected reward?

It should be mentioned that any online investment portal is only as useful and lucrative as the experience of the trader in question. This is why some individuals will enjoy substantial returns while others will inevitably falter. So, what approaches should be taken in order to mitigate the chances of incurring a fiscal loss?


Safe Investment Strategies to Adopt

Anyone who is contemplating an investment for business purposes should adopt a conservative approach. High-risk assets such as Forex pairs and initial public offerings (IPOs) are best to avoid, as losses can occur within a very short period of time. It is better to focus upon areas such as:

The main point to stress here is that longitudinal returns tend to be much more predictable when compared to short-term "punts". This is also the very same reason why some of the most successful online investors are always looking towards the horizon as opposed to remaining focused on any single trade.

Is online investing the right option for you? This is a very subjective question. The answer will normally involve how much liquidity you wish to obtain as well as the level of risk you are willing to accept at any given time. If performed correctly, such a strategy can offer up amazing results. However, always remember that the inherent dangers associated with any type of investment will need to be balanced with the potential rewards

By utilising high-quality and targeted data, you can be able to connect with more of the right individuals, getting more leads and reducing costs during the process. On the contrary, utilising the wrong data can result in dire consequences for your entire organisation other than your marketing campaign failing to gain traction.

As such, picking the right B2B data provider is imperative. You need to be sure that the partner you will be working with has the credentials and ability to provide the results you are after. Whether you want phone numbers, postal addresses, email addresses or a combination of all, you will only have peace of mind if you trust that your data provider really cares about your company.

That being said, here are important things to look at when picking a business data provider in the UK.

Verifiable Sources of Data

Can the provider tell you just how they garnered the data that they're selling? Also, have their sources been thoroughly inspected? If the answer is no, that should be a red flag. If you have proof that the business data is from a credible source, you'll want to check how often it's updated. Business data is constantly evolving and decays pretty fast. As such, the data needs to be cleaned and refreshed on a regular basis or you won't get the results you're after.

Proper Accreditations

Your business data provider needs to be registered with the Data Protection Act and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Ideally, it is worth looking for a data provider that's registered with the Direct Marketing Association. This is a network of over 1000 firms that provides the best practice guidelines and legal updates. Each member is expected to collect data in an ethical manner.

While undertaking this process, it is a good idea to review the business data provider's own site in a more general manner. Do they have contact information like postal address and phone number? An unscrupulous provider may hide being their site, selling you data and then going missing thereafter.

Thorough and Targeted Data Records

What you deem as targeted and thorough will certainly depend on your specific needs. Regardless, it's best to have detailed information than the opposite. For instance, are you just given employees names, or are you told more about their roles? Also, can that data be paired up? For example, a postal address linked to an email address?

The best business data providers in UK will work closely with your to source data that best match your marketing and business goals. They will conduct penetration analysis or profiling which involves analysing your clients and looking for what they have in common as well as what drives them. This information is then used to get similar prospects from their database and thus help boost your sales.

Guarantees in Deliverability

It is also important that your business to business data provider can verify that your marketing message will reach the individuals you are targeting most of the time. Of course, a 100% deliverability guarantee is impossible as there are numerous variables that can impact the outcome. However, your business data provider should be able to show that your emails and direct mails will reach the intended prospects and that your phone calls will be answered by the right individuals majority of the time.

Business data is imperative in reaching prospects and boosting sales in this day and age. You want to ensure you are on the right side if you're going to use a business data provider. Use the tips above to ascertain such.

But according to James Butland, VP European Banking at international payments platform Airwallex, this is changing.

Innovative solutions and more customer centric business banking platforms are on the rise, and, as a result, SMEs are moving away from their current banks in their droves. This is highlighted by the UK’s Current Account Switch Service reporting that there were 17,687 business account switches using the service during Q2 of this year, compared to just 8,000 switches during the same period last year.

Clearly, SMEs are hungry for new services that help them to manage their money more effectively, and with Brexit and a fluctuating currency potentially causing issues, it couldn’t come sooner.

World changing SME banking 

The need for services that better meet the demands of businesses has seen payment fintechs such as Accelerate, Square and Monzo partner with the likes of Mastercard, eBay and Visa to provide more up to date technology in the B2B banking world. These innovations are aimed at speeding up payments and helping SMEs to compete in an increasingly globalised and competitive economy.

Innovation within international payments has also seen similar developments. This is largely due to the opaque nature of current FX practices. A new paper from the European Central Bank recently revealed that banks across Europe have overcharged SMEs for foreign exchange services, and have earned hundreds of millions of euros each year, at the expense of their small corporate customers. These SMEs have often been presented with misleading exchange rates and secret charges by banks, while unfairly being offered lower exchange rates compared to larger businesses at the same time.

This is a big issue. Particularly as 232,000 of UK SMEs exported to overseas markets last year, representing 10% of the country's small and medium-sized businesses. It’s why companies such as Airwallex, through our Global Accounts and FX capability, is helping SMEs to break through murky FX practices, and access exchange rates that have been typically only available to large corporates. Customers can be shown correct and clear rates and can act as a local in new markets. These new platforms, services, and in some cases new banking entities, are removing the complexities of exporting overseas and therefore allowing SMEs to focus more on growing their business.

Partnership benefits for SMEs

SMEs desperately need these developments because previous legacy payments and slow banking processes are not only significantly slowing down the speed at which they can operate at but are also ultimately limiting their growth. The transparency available now to help SMEs understand FX rates and expenses alongside more innovation within payments and banking solutions will prove vital for smaller businesses going forward. This will provide them with confidence over their margins and allow them to grow through enabling them to provide far swifter payments, both nationally and internationally.

Here discussing the increased adoption of connected devices and sensors in banking and how IoT enables banks to respond in real-time to customer needs, is Neil Bramley, B2B Client Solutions Business Unit Director at Toshiba Northern Europe.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is on the rise both at home and in the workplace, and will soon significantly impact and empower the way we live and work. To date, such solutions have arguably made a bigger splash in the consumer landscape than B2B, with connected fridges, cars and thermostats all resonating with the public. As consumers awareness of IoT grows, so too does their expectation that it will blend into their everyday consumer experience. No business is seeing this effect more than those in the financial industry as more IoT technology incorporates payment capabilities.

The case for financial organisations to introduce IoT into their internal infrastructure and consumer facing technology capabilities is gaining in strength, with solutions providers continuing to innovate and push the boundaries of what such technologies can achieve. The whole concept of IoT is that it can be anything organisations want and need it to be – all it takes is the right app or piece of code to be built around it. At this stage in its adoption, many IT managers in financial organisations don’t necessarily understand the potential of IoT. Given the personal, and often sensitive, nature of the data these organisations manage a fear of data and network security persists, particularly in the wake of recent global cyber-attacks. However, such concerns aren’t projected to hold the market back for long, with IDC research predicting that global spending on IoT technologies is forecast to reach nearly $1.4 trillion by 2021.

The scope of IoT solutions is evolving to fuel this demand. Whereas stationary M2M (machine to machine) solutions, such as sensors, kick-started the connected device market and remain popular, mobile IoT solutions provide vast opportunities across numerous sectors – helping to improve workflows, enhance interactions with staff and customers, and even improve the safety of workers. Key to this development is the introduction of peripherals to the workplace, which can be partnered with mobile gateway solutions to ensure cross-machine collaboration.

One natural example lies within banking. The increased adoption of connected devices and sensors will bring increasingly rich data to banks about their customers, allowing them to provide more personalised products and services, even enabling them to respond in real-time to customer needs. As connected technology becomes imbedded in our environments, and the connected home and smart city market matures, banks could provide real-time spending advice. For example if you have overspent on your budget that month your bank might suggest you avoid your usual Friday lunchtime treat.

Elsewhere, peripherals like smart glasses (wearable display technology) can ensure a hands-free solution to workers across a range of roles. Augmented Reality could give insurance sales teams a in-depth view of customers homes geographical locations and provide them with a better analysis of potential risks in order to give them a better deal, or provide a hands free look at a customers financial history enabling the creation of bespoke products and services.

Beyond devices themselves, operating systems will also play a crucial role in the progression of IoT in the financial services world. Currently the focus is very much on writing software for iOS and Android – a smartphone-onus which again signifies the advanced stage of the consumer market. Yet the natural progression is for solutions providers to expand their focus to incorporate Windows 10 – this will serve as a catalyst in creating a greater number of solutions designed for professional use, which in turn will inspire more financial organisations to turn their attention to developing IoT coding and apps to address different business needs.

It is only a matter of time until IoT becomes a major enabler for organisations across the finance industry – with such game-changing potential, it’s important for IT managers to get ahead of the curve to understand how these technologies can empower their business.

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