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Simple alternative to cash for tour guides

Cash causes so many problems for tour guides out in the field from security issues to admin issues and fraud. It can become extremely complex and troublesome when tour guides are a part of your business model and are out in the field or are working remotely.

Tours and holiday activities were the 2nd fastest growing sector in the world in 2018. The sector has grown from strength to strength as people look to for more authentic and local experiences. The market is now estimated to be around a staggering $150 billion.

Due to this increased demand and opportunity, travel and tour guide companies are now looking at alternatives to streamline their processes, reduce stress and improve business administration, as cash is often a headache to administer and audit. It is also open to fraud and expensive to manage. Cash is a complication that shouldn’t exist in the travel and tour guide sector.

Businesses in the sector are starting to turn to prepaid cards to eliminate cash-based problems and to provide an expenses solution that makes operations smoother.

Solving payroll and funding issues

Prepaid cards allow travel companies to send funds electronically to tour guides or guests, instantly anywhere in the world 24/7. It can also remove any delays caused be traditional banking processes or cash distribution. Eliminating any potential payroll and funding issues can increase employee motivation and as a result, have a positive effect on your business’s customer service.

Increase security and protect your employees

Cash is outdated. Instantly eliminate the burden and risk of carrying or storing cash when travelling is involved, for both tour guides and guests, by using a secure prepaid card. Moreover, prepaid cards are reloadable 24/7 so your employees will only need one card at a time saving your business time and money.

No need for any pesky administration

Prepaid cards can replace petty cash completely. Once combined with expense systems and powerful receipt management tools, companies can manage all of their expenses, payroll, funding and much more on one system. Furthermore, you are able to monitor spending in real-time and integrate with any existing accounting or ERP systems in your business, giving you full peace of mind.

Other benefits

Prepaid cards have obvious cost-based benefits however removing the hassle and headaches associated with inefficient cash-based systems can lead to happier employees. Moreover, this can free up time for your employees and tour guides so that they can focus on their job to create entertaining experiences for tourists and not on their finances. This can lead to higher retention rate with higher performing tour guides who are often difficult to source.

How to choose a prepaid card solution for your travel company

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, meeting the needs of tour guides, travel companies and other travel stakeholders.

The B4B solution is currently enabling travel companies, tour guides and tourism establishments to replace inefficient cash-based systems for the past 5 years. 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 travel companies and tour guides, and how we can help you, call us on 020 3137 3420 or email us at sales@b4bpayments.com.

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Eliminate payroll pain for Christmas events

According to the 2018 Pulse Report, the UK events industry is estimated to be worth £42.3bn and much of that figure is likely to be spent on corporate Christmas events. Not only is organising festive events a significant expense but it also can be an organisational headache, especially payroll for temporary or seasonal staff.

With December rapidly approaching, now is the ideal time to look for new ways to make your Christmas party planning simpler and more efficient for this and coming years.

Eliminate the inefficiencies of cash

The security risks, painful administration and accounting complexities have made paying people in cash unviable with company credit cards being even more frustrating. Prepaid cards are the first choice for companies looking for new and more versatile ways to manage corporate expenses, payroll and incentives.

The ideal tool for event organisers

Give your event organiser a prepaid card loaded with an amount you decide and keep track of their spending in real-time. It also means that you are not putting your team in the position where they have to fund expenses out of their own pocket and go through a time-consuming and frustrating manual expense claim process.

Also, you might need to enable multiple people or departments to pay for different aspects of the event such as travel, venue management or sourcing gifts. In that case, it would be impractical and undesirable to issue more company credit cards for a short-term project. With prepaid, you can instantly issue additional cards with different amounts loaded to other team members. This allows you to make completely bespoke employee incentive programmes instantly.

If you are arranging an event abroad where card payments aren’t always accepted, your team can always withdraw cash using their prepaid card from a local ATM, usually incurring lower fees than if withdrawals were made using credit cards.

Stay on budget

While everyone wants their event to be a great experience, nobody wants to find they have gone over budget to achieve it. One of the many drawbacks of paying with cash is that you’ll find it almost impossible to tell if you are nearing or exceeding your staffing budget. Using prepaid cards from B4B Payments would enable you to see exactly how much is being spent in real-time.

Pay a few or a few thousand staff

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas party, impressing your clients or putting on an awards evening, prepaid cards can help you manage events where you are employing a few to a few thousand temporary staff. As you can re-load cards remotely, you can pay staff via a prepaid card once or multiple times using the same card.

Another important advantage is that prepaid cards don’t have to be physical plastic. Today, you could issue virtual prepaid cards that can be issued instantly to anyone in the world. It’s the ideal solution for when you need to set up a method of payment fast for workers in other geographies.

Maximum spending appeal

Some prepaid cards, such as the ones you can issue to staff via B4B Payments, can be used to pay for goods and services anywhere that accepts payment by Mastercard online or offline. That means that you are well positioned to attract temporary staff for your event, especially those who don’t have bank accounts. Your seasonal workers will enjoy the benefit of being able to spend their pay immediately, virtually anywhere.

Expenses for staff

In addition to payroll for seasonal staff, you might also need to cover their expenses incurred such as travelling to your venue or meal allowance. The process of claiming staff expenses is quick and simple for both you and your employees with the ability to upload receipts electronically. No more inefficient manual processes or paper receipts to process and file.

Celebrate your brand

An event is a great opportunity to show off your brand. If you are looking for some extra visual impact, your cards can be branded with your logo as part of a production run from just a few hundred units.

An event is a great opportunity to show off your brand. If you are looking for some extra visual impact, your cards can be branded with your logo as part of a production run from just a few hundred units.

Prepaid cards – not just for Christmas

Mastercard published details of how more companies than ever are finding they can benefit from financial services from suppliers other than traditional banks. The Mastercard Prepaid Consumer Experience Index stated that prepaid use is predicted to grow by 133% in the next five years globally. The figures state that using prepaid cards to manage expenses is likely to be the number one reason why more companies will begin using prepaid cards.

B4B Payments is a multi-award-winning provider of Mastercard prepaid cards to companies, government departments and other types of organisation for uses such as expense management, gifting and payroll. To hear more about B4B Payment product updates, the latest Fintech news or how clients use our products get in touch with us on Linkedin, Twitter or via our website.

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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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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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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.