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Offline payments can help SMBs become more agile

By George Sinanis, COO, UK 

George Sinanis - Business Express
George Sinanis

In today’s challenging economic landscape, innovation remains key for small to medium businesses (SMBs) looking to remain competitive and maintain customer growth. Whether you are operating a coffee cart in a rural area or running a hair salon on a high street, internet connectivity issues, could disrupt your payment flow and cause you to lose vital business revenue.However, innovative payment solutions exist to minimise the risk of missed payments due to network failures. Offline payments can offer a viable solution to SMBs. 

Connectivity issues hampering SMB growth  

While the average internet speed has seen improvement throughout the UK over time, there are still underserved remote areas. According to research conducted by The Federation of Small Businesses, 39% of SMBs in rural areas experience download speeds below 10 Mbps. To put this in context, while 10 Mbps may suffice for a single user checking emails and streaming music, it can pose limitations for SMBs managing multiple devices simultaneously, such as laptops for inventory checks and card terminals to process customer payments.  

Poor connectivity not only makes it difficult for SMBs to operate smoothly, but it costs British SMBs an estimated £18.77 billion annually. This also has wider implications given SMBs serve as the backbone of the UK economy, and contribute a staggering £2 trillion to its economic output. 

In an attempt to address the challenges SMBs face, the UK government published a White Paper last year, pledging to bring gigabit-capable broadband to 85% of the UK by 2025 and to deliver 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025. However, despite this ongoing investment into the UK’s broadband infrastructure, day-to-day operational challenges undoubtedly remain. 

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A more immediate solution is imperative. 31% of businesses reported that their growth has been impeded by connectivity issues. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), each missed payment due to connection issues holds the power to affect not only their profits but also their customer relationships. Payment hurdles can erode customer loyalty and tarnish the reputation of SMBs, potentially leading to negative reviews if customers are dissatisfied. With 65% of UK consumers reading reviews before in-store purchases, this situation could sound the death knell for many SMBs.  

Harnessing offline payments  

For businesses without offline payment options, there is always a risk of losing crucial sales during times of connectivity disruption. It serves as a tool to prevent any negative impact on customer experience and ensures their preferred payment method is accommodated. 

Traditional terminals depend on an internet connection, but with offline payments, point-of-sale (PoS) transactions can proceed seamlessly – even when there are connectivity issues. Depending on your device, such payment solutions allow card-present transactions to be concluded successfully in the device itself and processed once connectivity resumes.  

Having an offline payments feature is already helping to reduce merchant sales loss and payment friction during times of network disruptions. With tap on phone, merchants can also use their smart phones as card terminals, ensuring payment processing continuity with mobile data in the case of a Wi-Fi outage. Tap on Any Device – also featuring offline payments – is what will come next; a technology that can be used on hundreds of smart devices at point of sale. This will save SMBs budget, resources, sales, and customers. 

By adopting offline payment methods, SMBs can fortify their profitability. The future of SMBs in the UK shouldn’t be bound by the limitations of today’s connectivity — offline payments pave the way for their unhindered growth and innovation.  

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