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Science tech start-ups boosted by EU investment

42 start-ups involved in the science and technology industries are set to receive a welcome investment boost from the EU’s European Innovation Council (EIC) as part of a drive to boost Europe’s international standing in these fields.

The EIC will be investing a hefty €178 million in total, taking stakes of 10% – 25% for each company. This is significant news for anyone with knowledge of the EU’s role in funding ground-breaking science and innovation. Traditionally, the union’s funding bodies such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments have limited their offerings to loans, grants or guarantees rather than direct investments. In other words, they have taken a backseat in deciding how allocated funding is actually invested.
The recent decision to switch to equity investments is borne of the fact that Europe has failed to translate its pioneering scientific endeavours into commercial accomplishments in recent years. Faced with a tough economic environment, start-up companies have been finding it difficult to secure the venture capital needed to grow and thrive.
It is anticipated that the EIC’s direct investments will change this stagnant commercial environment, helping to attract investment and mitigate the risks that inhere within any new business venture.
2021 is a big year for the EIC as Horizon Europe – its billion-euro research programme – gets up and running. As part of the programme, the organisation expects to make more direct investments in promising science and technology firms through to 2027.

How start-ups can secure funding

Start-ups can apply for a simple grant or a blended option of support, grant and equity. It should be noted, however, that while the pool of money available for budding start-ups is generous, the selection process is set to be very competitive.
The first step involves making an initial application to the EIC, who will go on to identify the most promising start-ups from the funding round. CEOs who make it past this initial step will then be invited to an interview panel of six experts in the fields of technology, law and investment.
The panel will pass their recommendations over to the EIC regarding which start-ups are worthy of funding and another panel – this time made up of investment experts – will recommend how much money each of the selected businesses deserve. The EIC will then confirm their decisions based on the advice of experts.
If you’re heading a start-up and are looking to take advantage of the EU’s new investment drive, you should note that the grant process is set to change as Horizon Europe gets up and running. The precise nature of the changes is still being negotiated, but rest assured that the future for promising new scientific ventures is looking bright.

Hit the ground running with B4B Payments

Are you a finance manager involved in a science-based industry such as pharmaceuticals or biotech? Perhaps you’re a start-up looking for ways to streamline your financial transactions with a partnering organisation? Look no further than B4B Payments. We offer companies smart financial solutions for organising payroll, payouts, reimbursements, incentives and more, giving them the tools needed to thrive and grow.

Read more articles on biotech, pharma, and clinical trials.

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B4B Payments announces E-money Institution status in Europe

Continuing to go from strength to strength, B4B celebrates another major achievement this year.

B4B Payments are incredibly pleased to announce their new EMI status and continued expansion into Europe. On the 26th of November 2020, the Board of the Bank of Lithuania issued an electronic money institution license to UAB B4B Payments Europe, the new European branch of the B4B Payments Group. This secures B4B Payments fast access to the financial markets of continental Europe, granting the company the right to provide a range of payment processing services to all EU member states.

“This will ensure that B4B Payments stays Brexit-proof for clients and cardholders no matter what exit deal we end up with” said Paul Swinton, the co-founder and CEO of B4B Payments, continuing “We’re very excited to be expanding with a permanent office in the EU market and at the same time improving the service we offer to our current clients by improving the coverage of B4B’s services. 2020 has been a busy year, and this is a fantastic way to finish it off for us.”

As part of this expansion, B4B Payments are also happy to be welcoming on board a new member to the team: Vladimiras Kolesovas, the new General Manager for Europe, based in Vilnius. With 25 years of experience in the financial sector, including multiple senior positions at SEB and CFO of ConnectPay, Vladimiras is an incredibly valuable addition to the B4B team.

“I’ve joined B4B at a very exciting time as the organisation goes from strength to strength with an expansion into Europe and the USA, as well as other impressive achievements in becoming an E-Money Issuer in the UK and attaining Mastercard Principal member status” says Vladimiras. “I am looking forward helping the team continue moving closer to its mission and achieve tremendous results setting B4B apart from competitors, placing them firmly as an industry leader of innovative b2b payment and expense tracking products, helping our customers achieve more by saving their time for what is important.”

This tops off a productive year for B4B Payments, who offer corporate expense management solutions including corporate expense cards and prepaid business cards. Over the course of the year, B4B have gained EMI status in the UK and expanded into the USA, as well as joining Mastercard as a principal member. As a leading payment processing provider now operating internationally, B4B Payments offer forward-thinking solutions to organisations and businesses of all sizes.

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Christmas gifting isn’t cancelled with E-gift cards

Let them eat cake.

Christmas 2020 is going to be unlike any other Christmas in most of our lifetimes. With the Covid-19 pandemic still seeing many countries facing a ‘lockdown’ or at least doing their best to control the spread of the virus, there is going to be limited opportunity for companies to celebrate with employees. So how can you go about rewarding your hardworking staff?

We have the perfect solution: give the gift of choice. If they want to spend their prepaid money on food for their family, so be it. If John from IT said his husband didn’t have time to make a Christmas cake this year, let him be the hero. If Kath from accounts looks like she’s worn a hole in her favourite slogan tee, she can order a new one, of her choosing.

Treat them. As equals.

It’s great, after such a tough year, to want to treat your staff. So well done you for even reading this! Everyone could do with a little cheering up. Remember how in our teens nothing anyone could get would be what we really wanted? And how your Mum would tell you off for saying, “I’d rather just have the money”? This year, it is more than likely that your team will be feeling like this. So our prepaid e-gift cards mean you have the privilege of giving them what they really want – the chance to choose it themselves. It means each team member gets the same thing, yes. This means greater equality and greater choice.

Taking the secret out of Santa

Despite the pandemic being described as a great leveller, the effects of it have been devastating for some individuals. Internally, your teams might view Nadia’s year as successful: Her comms team have written an award-winning pandemic-response plan. However, whichever member of the team gets her in a secret Santa could be blissfully unaware that her partner’s restaurant was forced to close, resulting in redundancies. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to get her an insensitive gift, in this harshest of years? Orchestrating a virtual secret Santa means protecting your staff from transmitting the virus. Issue them all with a virtual gift card and they can purchase their own silly gift. We think toilet roll companies will – pardon the pun – clean up!

Good, clean fun

The Christmas party is notoriously a place for drunk colleagues to make embarrassing confessions, for things to get messy. But this year, mess is the last thing people want. What they want is respect, autonomy and reassurance. We can send out your gift as a virtual card, so nothing has actually touched any physical hands. Your staff can be reassured that their health and safety is paramount and you are listening.

Positive brand sentiment

Giving a gift basket for two when someone’s relationship has broken down due to the pandemic stress could leave a bitter taste in someone’s mouth, in what has been an unprecedented year. However, a branded, pre-paid card allowing them to spend a designated sum on something they want or need will have the opposite effect. When they see your logo as they select their spend, it will increase positive sentiment and loyalty. You could be getting them out of a tight spot, or helping them to feed the family. And, as the marketing message from old says – that is priceless!
Speak to our team about a personalised festive email campaign with e-gift cards we are certain your staff will love.

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B4B: UK E-money Institution & Mastercard Principal Membership

Payment solutions experts, B4B Payments (B4B), celebrate approval to become an E-money institution and the launch of a new branch office in Vilnius, Lithuania. This follows on from the launch of the Boston branch in August 2020, the launch of its products in the USA and is another step completed in the strategic goal of B4B to widen their company reach on a global scale.


On Friday 28th August, the FCA authorised B4B to operate as an E-money Institution (EMI). The following week, B4B joined Mastercard as a principal member. This change in status will allow the company to issue their own cards and offer even more innovative prepaid business cards and payment solutions throughout Europe.

As an EMI, B4B Payments will take responsibility for and be able to issue electronic money in the form of prepaid cards for its business clients, which can then be used to make payments to third parties. This removes another supplier from its supply chain bringing faster decision making and an improved approach to product enhancements.

The Vilnius branch will cover all of B4B Payment’s customers in Europe, helping to Brexit-proof the company and the company is on track to receive a second EMI licence in Lithuania.

Dual authorisation as an E-money institution allows B4B Payments to provide their financial payment solutions to all territories in Europe. No matter what exit deal the UK secures with the EU, this approval will allow B4B Payments to continue to provide their high-quality services to businesses throughout Europe.

Paul Swinton, B4B Payments co-founder and CEO said: “This is undoubtedly an exciting time for us. We are taking the next step in our global expansion plan and have just been approved to become an E-money institution in one country and a second will shortly follow. We have also continued our long-established relationship with Mastercard by becoming a principal member. As we migrate all our European cardholders away from Wirecard Card Solutions onto our own licence we will ensure there is no impact to cardholders or our business customers. We are delighted to grow our company with our clients and look forward to offering more enhancements to our corporate payment solutions moving forward”

For over 14 years, B4B Payments have been leading the Fintech and prepaid solutions market, working with a global team to offer consistently innovative and flexible payment solutions that can help businesses manage their corporate expenses efficiently and easily.

Paul added, “I’d like to thank the hard work of the B4B Payments team who managed to make this all possible and our colleagues at Mastercard who have acted quickly and decisively to ensure that thousands of customers of Wirecard will not be further impacted. The passion of our company has enabled the first stages of our international expansion to be a huge success and I can’t wait to continue to share news of our success with our customers as we move forward.”

Opening a Lithuanian office is further proof of the forward-thinking nature of B4B Payments, who endeavour to bring the best payment processing solutions consistently to the market.

Edoardo Volta, Head of Fintech, UK & Ireland, Mastercard commented “We are delighted to be expanding our relationship with B4B Payments as they continue to innovate in the commercial space. Our worldwide acceptance network and solid experience in the Fintech space will ensure we are able to support their global ambitions and future success.”

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Notice of New Terms & Conditions

This change affects both B4B and Bread4Scrap clients and cardholders. The following communication was sent on 15th September 2020.

Dear Client/Cardholder,

This is a notice to advise that your current terms and conditions showing Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd (WDCS) as the issuer of E-money will be replaced by the attached new set of terms within the next 60 days.

This change has come about because WDCS has determined that it is going to bring about an orderly wind down of its business. All cardholders and e-money accounts will be transferred to B4B Payments to allow operations to continue as normal.

B4B Payments as the trading name of Payment Card Solutions (UK) Ltd and is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Electronic Money Institution (register number 930619) and is a Principal Member of Mastercard International Inc.

B4B Payments has been operating your cards and card program since its inception as a program manager of WDCS and to date has carried out all operational activities in respect of the program, so this change should have little to no effect on day to day operations.

The only significant difference is that B4B Payments will be additionally responsible for the safeguarding of cardholder funds whereas WDCS performed this function previously. Like WDCS, B4B Payments uses the segregation method to ensure all client funds are held in credit institutions in the EU. The safeguarding policy is available upon request.

It should be noted that if you do not wish to continue the use of your card or the e-money services currently being provided by B4B Payments under the new terms then B4B Payments will allow you to redeem your e-money and waive the normal redemption fee. 

It should be further noted that for operational reasons the balances of cards maybe transferred to B4B Payments within the next 60 days, but this does not affect your rights under the current terms.

If you no longer wish to continue under these new terms, then please contact your account manager or customer services to arrange the redemption of your e-money.

As always, we appreciate you choosing B4B as your prepaid payments partner.

Regards,
Paul Swinton, CEO B4B Payments & Bread4Scrap

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B4B Payments Announces Strategic Expansion into U.S. Market

B4B Payments announces new collaboration with Visa in the U.S.

Digital payments company, B4B Payments, today announced a strategic collaboration with Visa in the United States. B4B Payments will leverage Visa’s proven scale, security and reach to grow in the U.S. market. The B4B payments program will be delivered on Visa Debit Cards and supported by Visa DPS for issuer processing services.

The move will see B4B Payments’ technology aiming to help companies facing challenges with outdated payment methods in the United States. Due to open its first U.S. office in Boston, Massachusetts in August 2020, this announcement marks a significant leap forward in capability for B4B Payments.

“Now is the right time for us to unleash our platform into the U.S. market and help companies free up their time from the sometimes-antiquated expense management processes in the same way we have in Europe. We are looking forward to achieving similar levels of success by collaborating with Visa to take our product forward.”

Paul Swinton Founder and CEO of B4B Payments

B4B Payments’ technology helps to streamline the payment process for organisations who had previously found difficulty managing issues that can be associated with traditional payment methods, such as employee expenses or third-party payments. The platform is entirely digital and can be used in conjunction with the B4B app to enable updates on the go, featuring automatic notifications of funds received, reminders for receipt input and freeing up the business to spend more time on other tasks. The technology allows for increased visibility and control over the expense payments that a company makes to its staff and suppliers. B4B Payments is particularly useful for agile digital companies without the resources to employ full-time administrative staff, or who employ gig economy workers and contractors, because payments can be tracked and made as needed without needing a central interface.

Kieran Draper, Head of B4B Payments (USA) Inc, comments, “We’re delighted to be able to announce the company’s expansion into the U.S. market, which has been a corporate ambition of ours for some time, and to transform the sometimes challenging process of business payments alongside a global brand like Visa is a great privilege.”

Our platform assists U.S. businesses facing challenges with purchasing and payments, in a world where the gig economy is growing massively. We hope to provide these businesses with a swift, secure and easy-to-use platform that gives them more time and effort to focus on their trade, rather than their administration.”

“We have successfully worked with fintech organizations across the globe to provide a clear path towards getting to market faster and more efficiently, leveraging Visa’s scale, security, reach and strong network of partners. By working with B4B payments on their expansion to the U.S., we are continuing our support for fintechs, with the goal of accelerating the growth of the payments industry and creating better ways to help move money everywhere.”

Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech, Visa

B4B Payments announces this exciting news off the back of an excellent 2019, which saw the company win Best Prepaid Product of the Year at the 2019 European Card & Payments Awards. With over 1,000 customers in Europe alone and several award wins under their belt, this expansion into North America represents a significant milestone for the company.

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How to avoid invoice fraud

According to UK Finance, UK business lost a total of £93 million in 2018 to invoice fraud, with the average payment to fraudsters being £20,750. To help you avoid losing potentially thousands of pounds, we’ve put together a list of things that you can do to avoid invoice fraud.

Scrutinise all invoices

It’s extremely important for you to scrutinise all of the invoices that you receive. The differences between a false invoice and a real one will be subtle, but if you look closely, you should be able to identify a fake. Common indicators of a fake invoice include a different phone number or contact name for correspondence, a change in payment methods, changes in the amount to be invoiced, a new signature, blurred logos, the addition to bank details that didn’t appear previously and email addresses with small changes.

Listen to your instincts

This might seem trivial, but it is important to listen to your instincts when analysing invoices. If an invoice does not seem genuine, it is probably a good idea to take a closer look at it. In order to stay in control of your payments, try and be more confident when refusing payments or unexpected information requests so that you don’t end up making a mistake under pressure. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Don’t click suspicious links

This is a general rule of thumb for using the internet, but in order to avoid invoice fraud, never click on the links that appear in an unexpected text or email. Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated than ever and it is now incredibly easy to create email addresses that look genuine upon first glance, but if you look closely, you might notice that certain names or words in the address are spelt incorrectly.

Check on suppliers

Fake invoices are often issued under a legitimate name with a fake bank account number or email address or under a false business name. When you’re taking on a new supplier, it’s a good idea to do your research into their business to ensure that they are legitimate and to search for their business address on Google maps. If their address is a PO box or a residential address, this could indicate that they are committing fraud. Where possible, if your existing suppliers get in touch claiming that they are changing their bank account or address, contact them directly to make sure.

Conduct multiple-stage authorisation

If you have the staff capability, it’s a good idea to hold multiple people responsible for the authorisation of payments. You could give the department or person associated with the expenditure responsibility for authorising the payment. The more people you have on hand to check each invoice, the more likely it is that someone will spot something suspicious.


If you’re looking to take control of your company spending in a secure and safe manner, get in touch with our expert team at B4B Payments today.

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How to be a top performing CFO

If you are currently a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or hoping to secure a CFO role for yourself, you may be wondering how to be the best, top-performing CFO possible. Below we outline just some of the skills and characteristics a CFO should have to ensure they bring as much value as possible to their organisation.

1. Transparency

It is important a CFO knows how to create and maintain a trusting, transparent environment. The financial status and figures of a business are an essential element of its foundation. If a CFO is able to be transparent about the financial position of its company, it helps to build trust and ensures all departments and employees are working on the same page towards the same goals.

2. Communication

While it may seem obvious to say that a CFO should have good communication skills, simply being able to communicate well is not enough for a CFO. A CFO should have a flexible communication style that allows them to adjust their communication techniques when working with different departments or individuals. Throughout the course of a day, a CFO may need to communicate with subordinates, board members, business partners, suppliers and the media, making a flexible communication style essential to ensure they can build strong, lasting relationships with everyone they communicate with.

3. Solution-orientated

In a leadership position, such as a CFO, many people will look to you for business solutions, not problems. For this reason, a CFO must adopt a solution-orientated attitude and not fall into the habit of being rule or compliance-orientated, as this can limit the effectiveness of their decisions.

4. Teamwork

Many managers and those in a leadership position may think teamwork is a basic skill that everyone should have mastered in adulthood. In reality, however, it can be difficult for many CFOs to be able to adapt their understanding of teamwork in a leadership position. As a CFO, it is your responsibility to build and strengthen your team. For this reason, a CFO should never look to shine individually or expect personal praise, they should focus their time and energy on ensuring their team is as functional and efficient as possible, rewarding them rather than looking for individual praise.

5. Innovation

As a CFO, you have the power to make innovative financial decisions and revolutionise your department. For example, a CFO could introduce prepaid business cards that save their financial team significant time and money. The CFO must choose where to include innovation carefully, to ensure these changes help improve the efficiency of their company.


If you’d like to learn more about how prepaid business card solutions could benefit CFOs, do not hesitate to get in touch with B4B Payments today. We ensure CFOs can keep control over corporate expenses in one, convenient platform, ensuring to improve the efficiency of their department. For more information, contact B4B Payments.

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The Pros (and cons) of being a cashless organisation.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to question whether they should adopt a cashless policy or not. Recent global events, such as the coronavirus pandemic, have led to an increase in credit and debit card payments. Digital wallet services like Apple Pay are also experiencing exponential growth, as increasing numbers of consumers and vendors embrace cashless payments.

However, in some industries – particularly in business-to-business environments such as wholesalers or supply merchants – cash is still commonplace. This article covers the pros and cons of switching to a cashless payments model and is designed to help you to determine whether going cashless is the right solution for you.

The pros of adapting a cashless policy

Save time – and money!

While businesses are expected to pay fees on credit card transactions, it’s worth noting that processing cash sales can take much longer. Ultimately, the time spent processing physical cash transactions could be better spent elsewhere. With cashless transactions, you’ll spend less time making trips to the bank, counting cash at the end of the day, and entering cash transactions into your accounting software.

Increased efficiency

A simple tap or swipe of a prepaid business card, credit card, debit card or mobile phone is much more efficient than giving out petty cash. If your business frequently experiences last minute or on-the-spot purchase needs, you may find that a cash-free solution helps to alleviate backlog in accounting.

Easier accounting and money management

If you’re frequently spending time poring over transactions while trying to determine why your expenses aren’t tallying correctly, it’s time to think about going cashless. With a cashless solution from B4B Payments, each transaction is tracked and receipt uploads are a breeze with the mobile app. This makes accounting more accurate and increases efficiency in the workplace.

Reduced risk

If your business keeps cash on the premises, you’ll always be vulnerable to theft. By switching to a cashless policy, you’ll improve the physical security of your staff and customers. Cashless transactions are also more hygienic – and your team and vendors will value this in a post-pandemic world.

Enhanced expense management

Going cashless isn’t all about finances coming in – it concerns your outgoings, too. Whether you’re purchasing from suppliers or covering the corporate expenses of field agents and reps, your expenses are easily tracked and managed when you go cashless.

Access valuable data

Cashless transactions generate a multitude of valuable consumer information. This data allows you to analyse the purchasing trends and spending habits of your card recipients and employees, which can be used to improve your financial strategy.

Cons of adopting a cashless policy

Increased card fees

One of the biggest bugbears for small-medium enterprises is the dreaded card transaction fee. To combat this, some companies factor card fees into their pricing structure, which could mean having to slightly increase the amount you charge your customers for your products.

*Pro tip- Read the fine print. Many prepaid card programmes offer cheaper rates from the outset, with hidden fees or margins on FX rates for transactions. Ω`

Some people prefer cash

For some organisations depending on who you’re distributing your cards to, cash is still king. In particular, older recipients of funds, are more accustomed to paying with cash and could feel alienated by your decision to adopt a totally cashless policy.

Is going cashless right for your business?

There are a lot of variables to consider before going cashless. Businesses in certain industries might benefit from going completely cashless, while others might still want to hold out before no longer utilising cash payments.

Whether you’re ready to take the plunge or not, having a cashless payment solution can certainly increase efficiency, provide you with better understanding of where your money is going, and streamline your accounting process. If you’d like more information, why not contact us to find out how B4B Payments could transform your fund disbursement today?

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How to cut business costs

No matter how established a business is, regularly looking for ways to cut and control costs and eliminate unnecessary expenditure is good business practice. In uncertain times, and when faced with an uncertain economy, every penny truly does count and even successful businesses should re-evaluate how they can cut costs.

1. Look for ways to be environmentally friendly

While swapping your bulbs for LEDs and installing solar panels may seem like unnecessary business expenses, in the long-term, they can help your business to save a significant amount of money. You can also encourage your employees to make better eco choices, such as switching off their computers rather than leaving them on stand-by and opting for digital documents rather than using paper. Buying reusable mugs and cups for your workplace is much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than constantly buying single-use supplies. In a post-covid workplace, we recommend ensuring each member of staff has their own supplies to ensure the safety and health of your team.

2. Negotiate supply expenses

It never hurts to try and negotiate a lower price with supply vendors to see if you could get a better deal. If you have been with a vendor for the long-term, you can ask them to reward your loyalty and retain your custom by offering you a lower, more affordable price. If they are unable to do this, shop around for another vendor, you may be surprised at the savings you could make by switching to another supplier or company.

3. Reduce overheads

Do you really need an office? Since lockdown measures were put into place due to the global pandemic, many businesses are re-evaluating having a physical presence at all. It’s clear employees are adapting and thriving in a remote working environment and surveys show that by continuing to give your employees the choice to work from home, you will not only have a safer, happier team, but can significantly reduce your overhead costs by moving into a smaller office space or none at all. If you choose to have a smaller office space with fewer employees working physically in the office, this will also help you to lower your energy bills and keep employee expenses low.

4. Control expenditure

If you’re looking for an easy and efficient way to control employee expenditure, you may wish to consider B4B Payments. Having spent the last 14 years developing a robust prepaid card solutions that allows businesses to view and control their employee expenditure in real-time, ensures your organisation has total control and transparency over their employee expenses.

5. Reduce travel

Encourage all meetings to take place via video call or conference call, rather than allowing employees to travel frequently. This not only saves a company transport costs, but it also reduces the time employees spend and waste travelling from location to location. If it is essential departments or employees meet in person, use to ensure tracking your employees’ transport expenses is easy and you can factor this expense into your monthly or quarterly budget.

To learn more about the prepaid business card solutions that can help businesses of all sizes cut costs, contact B4B Payments today. From payroll to employee expenses and employee incentive management, we can help you manage your finances in one, convenient platform. Get in touch today to learn more about our effective solutions.