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B4B Payments shortlisted for two PayTech Awards 2019

B4B Payments is delighted to have been shortlisted for the PayTech Awards 2019 in two categories. The nominations are in the Best Corporate Payments Initiative and Best Prepaid Initiative categories. Both awards present the very best in the use of B2B prepaid technology and highlight B4B’s expertise in corporate expense management.

‘We are proud to have been shortlisted for these two awards, which really signifies the strides we have made over this past year as a company,’ said Paul Swinton, CEO. ‘It also demonstrates that the hard work the team has put into our solution and technology, through continuous innovation and improvement, is not only paying off but also leading the industry.’ Winners will be announced at a ceremony on 5th July 2019 at the HAC, London.

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CEO Featured as special guest on FinTech podcast

B4B Payments CEO & PIF Chairman, Paul Swinton, recently featured on Fintech Unplugged, a leading podcast for the fintech industry.

Paul joined hosts Robert Courtneidge from Moorwand and Suresh Vaghjiani from Tribe Payments, where he discussed what makes B4B Payments an award-winning business, how he got involved with industry-body PIF and his rise to the position of its Chairman. Paul also offers his opinions on the perception of prepaid cards in the market and his views on the current fintech scene.

Listen to the full podcast here.
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Universities reduce the need for cash on and off campus

Cash causes so many problems for universities and other educational establishments. It’s a headache to distribute and account for with huge opportunity for fraud. It’s also a turn-off for many young people who view cash as an outdated inconvenience. In fact, increasing numbers of young people prefer not to use cash at all. Research shows that today’s teenagers are four-times less likely to use cash than the general public and use cash for just 6% of their payments, according to debit-card company Current.

With around 2.32 million students in UK higher education last year [1], it’s a big problem for which universities are increasingly determined to find an innovative solution. The goal is to reduce the inefficiencies of cash for themselves while increasing their appeal to prospective students.

The alternative to cash

Some progressive educational establishments in the UK are turning their backs on cash-based expense management systems in favour of issuing prepaid cards.

Many of the most interesting innovations in financial services in recent years have been made with prepaid cards. The Oyster card for travel around London’s rail network was an early example followed by new challenger banks such as Monzo which targeted millennials with services initially based on prepaid cards.

One of the main reasons for this growth is that prepaid cards have emerged as a convenient way to overcome many challenges from simplifying expenditure management to breaking down barriers to financial inclusion.

Here are a few examples of how prepaid cards are delivering benefits to universities and students.

Travel Bursaries

Course and open days are huge opportunities for universities to attract new students in person. These are important days, with most universities opening 2-3 times a year. In Bristol alone, a total of 30,000 visitors booked to visit over the university’s open weekend last year. [2]

Many educational establishments offer travel bursaries as a way to incentivise and help students to attend these events. A prepaid card can help remove the hassle and admin involved with distributing cash for travel purposes to visitors before the open day.

Research Programmes

Research programmes are one of the most important services universities can offer to a variety of industries. They often involve some form of reward in exchange for student participation. Dealing with the administration and distribution of funds after the research is often a time-consuming task with huge scope for fraud.

Alternatively, prepaid cards offer an easy way to upload funds in a way that is far less open to fraud. Cards can be retained by regular participants so funds can be uploaded remotely after each research programme is complete and rewards have been earned, removing the need for postage and associated administration.

Supporting Student Financial Hardship

University can be a financially challenging time for many students with a reported 40% worrying about how they will finance their studies and daily life. Financial Hardship programmes can, therefore, be an important factor when students are choosing their university.

Managing such a programme can however be challenging for universities as a robust, reliable and ongoing financial process is required with regular payments being made. Delivering funds to students using a prepaid card can be automated with recurring payments. Prepaid cards enable universities to monitor spending and take far better control of where funds can be spent with the ability to prevent spending on activities such as gambling. Moreover, certain goods and services can be excluded to ensure funds are used appropriately.

And there’s more

Prepaid cards can replace the use of petty cash throughout the university, from any one-off payments to expense cards for employees and contractors. Combined with powerful receipt management tools, prepaid cards can deliver a solution that keeps you in full control of your expenditure.

How to choose a prepaid card solution

An important factor in the success of a prepaid card programme to meet the needs of both the University and its students is its ability to be used in many locations. The prepaid solution from B4B Payments offers a Mastercard prepaid card that can be used in the millions of locations globally that accepts payment by Mastercard. Funds can be spent in-store or online.

The B4B solution is currently used by further education bodies, companies and government departments in the UK to replace inefficient cash-based systems. It was named winner of the Best Prepaid Card Programme category of the Card & Payments Awards 2019.

To find out more about how we work with universities and how we can help you, call us on 020 3137 3420 or email us at sales@b4bpayments.com.

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GLA Renews ambassador card programme

B4B Payments has extended its relationship with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Team London to provide prepaid cards for its London Ambassador Programme.

For the past five years the volunteering programme, driven by the Mayor of London, has welcomed nearly one million visitors to the capital every summer. The Ambassadors are the friendly face of London welcoming and assisting visitors at some of the capital’s top tourist hotspots and major sporting or cultural events.

The Ambassadors give their time freely but receive a prepaid card to use for the small expenses that enable them to carry out their duties.

Tim Robson, B4B Payments Account Director, said: “We are delighted to be renewing our relationship with the GLA to support this valuable service and the tourism industry here in London. These voluntary Ambassadors do a great job and we make life easier for both the volunteers and the GLA by streamlining their expenses process.”

The B4B solution was named Best Prepaid Product Of The Year 2019 at the prestigious Card and Payments Awards earlier this year.

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A GUIDE TO THE NEW GIFT VOUCHER VAT CHANGES

Is this the end of vouchers for your business?

Does your company give gift vouchers as part of its employee recognition or incentive schemes? If so, you need to be aware that UK VAT rules have changed and your company can no longer claim back the VAT on gift cards purchased.

This 20% increase in the cost of gift cards is likely to come as a surprise to many companies as the demand for gift cards has continued to increase in recent years. Annual sales for gift cards and vouchers had been on the rise. According to Mercator, sales stood at £6 billion in 2017 with projections of that figure reaching £7.4 billion.

New VAT rules on gift vouchers were introduced on 1st January 2019. Unfortunately, every company using vouchers will have to learn some new and quite complicated rules and definitions as well as suffering a hike in the cost of their vouchers.

Why the change?

Last year, HMRC explained that previous VAT rules on gift vouchers resulted in vouchers being taxed double or not taxed at all. The new rules now define how vouchers with a single and/or multi-purpose should be treated and crucially, when VAT should be applied.

New definitions

You may be already be familiar with the current definitions of Single Purpose Vouchers (SPVs) and Multi-Purpose Vouchers (MPVs). The new legislation will change the current definitions. SPVs are vouchers where the place of supply of the goods and services, and the vat liability on the supply are all known at time of issue. This will mean that many MPVs will now be considered as SPVs.

VAT will be due when it is issued and not when the goods or services are actually provided, VAT will always be due even if it is never used. As a result, potential business cost has increased.

The new VAT gift voucher changes, implemented at the start of the new year, will cause many businesses to re-evaluate whether vouchers are worth the extra cost and complication for what is quite a dated concept. B4B have created a simple infographic that breaks down the changes using an example.

Is there an alternative to vouchers?

The introduction of the new VAT laws will prompt many companies to re-evaluate whether vouchers are worth the extra cost and complication for what is quite a dated concept. Gift vouchers have several drawbacks that your employees or other recipients will find irritating.

Gift vouchers can usually be used at only one retailer which limits their choice. Also, expiry dates on gift vouchers can lead to frustration and disappointment if your recipients don’t use it in time.

B4B are the alternative

The changes to the VAT rules mean that gift vouchers are now treated the same as prepaid cards yet prepaid cards offer a number of advantages. Prepaid cards such as those offered by B4B Payments are accepted worldwide anywhere that accepts Mastercard payments.

Now is the ideal time to take a fresh look at how your company uses cards and the most effective way to reward employees and partners. To find out more about how prepaid cards can be a much simpler alternative to vouchers, contact us at 020 3137 3420 or info@b4bpayments.com

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B4B Wins best prepaid product of the year 2019

We are excited to announced that B4B Payments Corporate Expenditure Solution was named winner of the coveted Best Prepaid Product of the Year at the Card & Payments Awards 2019 last night. The award was the culmination of a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

The B4B solution helps clients free themselves from the many problems, inefficiencies and costs of cash-based expense processes. The judges said that the B4B nomination won their unanimous support as it ‘put forward good statistics and really spoke to how it targeted and impacted SME traders, a group that is often neglected.’

Paul Swinton, CEO, B4B Payments said, ‘This is a very special win for us. The Card and Payments Awards are extremely prestigious so, on behalf of the whole B4B team, I’d like to thank the judges for this great honour and recognition of the value we create for our clients.’

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CEO appointed chair of prepaid trade body

B4B Payments is proud to announce that its CEO, Paul Swinton, has been appointed as the next Chairman of the Prepaid International Forum (PIF), the not-for-profit industry body representing the prepaid sector.

The group, which was launched more than a decade ago, describes itself as “the voice for leaders in prepaid and fintech, influencing change and championing growth.”

Paul originally joined the PIF Board in April 2018 as a non-executive Director.

In the announcement of his appointment, PIF said that Paul, “brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to the role. His extensive background in the prepaid sector, alongside his role as CEO and Founder of B4B Payments, makes him the ideal candidate to lead PIF over the next three years.”

“This is a great honour,” said Paul. “Being appointed Chair of PIF is a huge opportunity to work closely with highly influential industry players to guide and support the growth of prepaid card use and benefits for people and organisations. We will represent the collective voice of PIF members within the regulatory landscape and be the positive and no-nonsense voice to both trade and the wider media.”

Paul takes over from Craig James, CEO of Neopay, who will step down in February 2019 after two consecutive terms at the helm.

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Tax laws help you eliminate avoidable mistakes

The decision to adopt new digital technology is usually one that companies make for themselves – but next year a change to UK law will force many business owners to update their processes.

What is changing?

On April 1st 2019, the way business owners file their VAT returns is changing. Making Tax Digital will have an impact on the Tax system, transforming the administration process into a simple and more efficient process, ensuring that tax payments are as accurate as possible. VAT-registered businesses above the VAT threshold will be required to keep their records digitally and use software to help submit their tax returns digitally. More specific information can be found at gov.uk.

Why the change?

Not surprisingly, the main reason for the new Making Tax Digital law is that the UK Government believes it is missing out on a big chunk of VAT revenue.

According to Government figures, there is a shortfall of up to £9 billion in VAT revenues collected every year. Ultimately, HMRC wants to ‘become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.’ While few of us relish the prospect of paying more in tax, most of us would want to fix a leak in our business finances of that magnitude ASAP.

Eliminating ‘avoidable mistakes’

According to the Government, the main reason for the VAT accounting problems are ‘avoidable mistakes’ by those submitting financial paperwork. This problem is not confined to submitting figures for government use.

Companies who are still using paper-based systems and cash are creating huge potential for avoidable mistakes, scope for fraud and the need for expensive manual administration. For example, companies that ask employees to keep paper receipts for expense management purposes. On a global scale, companies are potentially losing out on $20 billion dollars of unclaimed VAT every year. At the same time, their employees are left frustrated and irritated at having to spend so much time on irritating manual processes.

Many companies have already cut out the margin for avoidable mistakes such as eliminating paper processes and cash in favour of digital technology. For others, it may be a painful transition, but it is likely to be those same companies who benefit most from the new rules in the long-term. Now is a great time to think about how Making Tax Digital could be your opportunity to take control of your financial processes and increase efficiency of your business.

The warning signs for a tough transition

Here are just a few signs that may indicate that the introduction of Making Tax Digital will be difficult for your business:

  • Cash is still being used for expense management
  • Your finance department is over-worked, spends too much time chasing paperwork and seems to lack control
  • Your employees are frustrated by having to keep and submit paper receipts in order to claim expenses

These are just a few legacy issues that are likely to make the transition to digital tax returns difficult, impact efficiency and increase administrative costs.

How can businesses prepare for Digital?

Start by eliminating cash processes from your business. For example, more companies are issuing prepaid cards to their employees for expense purposes. The entire process is digital, enables strict spending control and can be monitored in real-time. This helps to build efficient and accurate finance processes that eliminate any costly errors, whilst reporting in real time.

Also, look for ways to automate systems and processes such as through integration with packages such as Sage, Concur and Xero. Implementing an efficient and integrated digital finance system, frees up time for employees to focus on more critical and value-driven work, whilst enabling you to access previously unclaimed tax.

If Making Tax Digital looks like a major challenge to your business, start planning for it now. It could be your ideal opportunity to kick start a discussion within your business about shedding old processes and taking real control of your finances. Contact B4B for more information on how prepaid cards can be used to increase the efficiency and accuracy of your corporate expenses.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it on your favourite social media sites.

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B4B CEO ELECTED TO PREPAID INT’L FORUM (PIF) BOARD

Paul Swinton, CEO of B4B Payments has been voted to join the board of the Prepaid International Forum (PIF) as non-executive director with immediate effect.

PIF is the not-for-profit industry body that represents organisations regulated under e-money and payment services legislation and operate in the high-growth prepaid and fintech sectors. Driven by a belief that prepaid delivers a wealth of social and financial benefits to consumers, businesses and governments, PIF works hard to protect and advance prepaid as an enabler of innovative financial products and services.

Paul Swinton said: “I am delighted and privileged to have been elected to the PIF board. I look forward to joining forces with my fellow PIF board members to collectively promote greater opportunities and growth within the prepaid cards and fintech space.”

pif logo

PIF Chairman Craig James said, “We approach the second half of 2018 with a re-energised leadership team and steadfast focus on maximising our contribution to advancing the success of the industry.”

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Three tech tools every CEO should know

By Paul Williams, CFO, CloudCall Group plc

CloudCall enables its clients to communicate with their contacts directly from their CRM, maximising the effectiveness of sales and customer services teams.

Let’s be honest – sometimes Chief Financial Officers have a reputation for not being tech-savvy. But with so many examples of innovation, especially in financial services, we need to know more about tech than just how to work MS Excel.

As a CFO of a successful software company, I have a keen interest in how technology can enhance business performance. After having evaluated and implemented a number of innovations, I thought my list of the top three solutions currently in use here at CloudCall might be useful to other Finance professionals.

1. Customer behaviour + revenue = accurate forecasting

I’ve been looking for a way to improve the accuracy of my financial forecasting. As a cloud-based software company, our clients essentially rent our software so it’s a SaaS (software as a service) model. We have high levels of predictability of income from software subscriptions but the accuracy of our financial forecasting is heavily influenced by customer behaviour such as how fast they on-board users and ramp up usage.

Having reached the limits of what Excel can achieve, I have been looking for a more effective way to model this customer behavioural information together with sales and billing data to achieve more accurate financial forecasts.

We evaluated several solutions and trialled Microsoft Power BI. We found it stronger in its back-end connectivity to our systems than other solutions but its user interface was not so intuitive. That is likely to mean we need to spend more time and money on training and probably incur more operator mistakes.

We are currently piloting Salesforce and trialling its Wave Analytics solution. Like most Salesforce products, the user interface is very intuitive and visually effective, and early results show it to be very effective in marrying financial information with customer data to achieve the kind of powerful insights I need to better support the business.

2. Prepaid cards = expenditure control

Cash-based expenditure management really should be a thing of the past. The expense of handling cash, the unclaimed VAT due to lost receipts and risk exposure goes against virtually every principle that finance professionals hold sacred.

We assign credit cards for use by our executive team but we are a growing company and nurturing talent at junior levels. As part of their development, we foster a culture of financial accountability and trust – within certain boundaries.

We use the expenditure management solution of B4B Payments that enables us to issue Mastercard prepaid cards to our junior team members. We can stipulate when and where the cards can be used and drip-feed funds into those accounts. I remember several junior members of the team saying that they couldn’t travel for business if they had to initially fund it themselves as they didn’t have the spare cash. It’s an important courtesy to our staff that we don’t make our people fund company expenditure and then go through a tortuous expense claim process which may delay funds back to their own pockets to reimburse them. We can also give staff prepaid cards as gifts as rewards or for anniversaries, which keeps things simple and is very much appreciated by all those that have received them so far.

3. Customer view = opportunities for improvement

You’d be surprised at how many ways you can improve your business if you look in the right places. Technology can give you a unique view of your business and allow you to see it exactly as a customer does. Most of the time it’s good but sometimes it’s not – and that’s your opportunity to improve things.

I regularly listen in on sales and customer service calls (it’s ok, we have one of those messages that say calls may be monitored). I can easily do this through our CRM system, which is integrated with a great solution called CloudCall. Yes, it’s a key feature of our own software but it really offers a huge opportunity when agents are routinely presented with real examples of what they do well, and what they don’t do well to learn from. I really do use it myself. CloudCall technology will also help us with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) compliance as we will be routinely asking customers and prospects for permission to hold their data and record their verbal permission. I suspect we’ll get a much higher opt in rate over the phone than via email, and the CloudCall technology will help us to keep the permissions up to date.

The pace of innovation has reached unprecedented levels in recent years and I’m sure my list of top tech tips will be entirely different in a year from now. But the point is that we must not be intimidated by new technology or else we – and the companies we serve, will quickly fall behind.