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Digital Payments Bringing Value to Travel and Tourism Rebound

Travel and tourism are rebounding in the U.S. and abroad, and digital payments are being used to support renewed growth, offer added value, and streamline payments to vendors and suppliers.

After the exceptional drop in 2020 and 2021, international tourism continues its gradual recovery in 2022 due to the easing of travel restrictions. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international tourist arrivals more than doubled (+130%) compared to January 2021, growing by 18 million. According to the organization, the increase in the number of arrivals is the same as in the whole of 2021 over 2020. Meanwhile, the WTO reported that a rapid rise in domestic travel and tourism, especially in the U.S., is driving the recovery.

Despite the hard impact Covid has had on the industry, the pandemic has created a new category of domestic and international travelers deemed the “untethered worker” or “laptop lugger” that seeks to mix work and vacation. This growing group tends to be younger, aims to take longer trips, and is a higher-income group, according to a recently published study by Delloite. Additionally, this group is highly digital and actively seeks the ease and convenience of digital payments.

Another bright spot for travel and tourism is that travelers plan to spend more this year on longer trips and more expensive accommodations, according to a Sky Scanner travel agency survey of 4000 travelers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany.

Specialty segments are also on the rise, such as student, health and wellness, cultural and medical tourism, which includes patients traveling domestically and beyond international borders for surgeries and medical treatments. A recent analysis by Market Data Forecast indicates the U.S. medical tourism market alone will grow from the current (2022) $8.3 billion to $19.96 billion by 2027. This U.S. segment may also experience a significant increase due to the recent overturn of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide. A growing number of companies are offering financial support (‘Abortion Access’) to aide women employees in states banning abortion rights and are left with the only option of traveling to abortion-permissive states.

Delivering additional value to travelers and tourists

With a rebound underway, digital payments, including prepaid cards and digital wallets, offer a powerful and highly flexible solution that travel and tourism businesses can use to be competitive and improve efficiencies for paying vendors and suppliers.

The increased cost of travel due to rising fuel prices makes travelers more concerned with budgeting than other challenges, according to Delloite. Businesses can offer prepaid cards to provide additional value to budget-minded travelers who want to save and manage their money. Using B4B Payment’s prepaid travel cards and mobile/online application, cardholders can quickly load funds onto their cards, track spending, and even upload receipts. B4B Payments makes it simple for cardholders to add a physical or virtual card to a mobile wallet.

Offering prepaid cards also ensures travelers avoid the hassle of carrying cash. A prepaid card is much safer than carrying cash when traveling. Should a physical card be lost or stolen, B4B Payments enables cardholders to quickly deactivate their card and have funds painlessly moved to a new virtual or physical card.

Additionally, businesses can offer prepaid cards for particular use cases, such as stranded passengers or emergency payments, and offer travelers an incentive or reward program.

An improved service provider experience

The value prepaid cards and digital payments offer travel and tourism businesses value beyond supporting clients. Travel and tourism operators are reliant on vendor and supplier relationships. It is no secret that prompt payment helps companies be preferred customers and retain high-performing service providers. Ultimately this can translate to a better customer experience and a more significant opportunity to scale your business.

B4B Payments eliminate the need for traditional banking processes such as wire transfers and checks or cash. Our versatile prepaid product can easily be set up for making real-time payments 24/7 to providers anywhere in the world. This highly efficient form of making payments helps businesses optimize cash flow, manage peak volumes, and prevents the need to exceed credit limits.

Additionally, savvy businesses can easily use digital payments to enhance vendor relationships by offering channel incentives and rewards.


To find out more about how B4B works with travel and tourism companies, get in touch with us.


References:

SkyScanner 2022 Travel Survey

World Tourism Organization

Deloitte 2022 Summer Travel Survey:

Market Data Forecast:

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Safeguarding funds to help manage risk in the travel industry

COVID led many tour operators to offer additional flexibility for bookings.

While this won’t continue in all cases (British Airways recently announced the end of their flexible booking policy), consumers affected by COVID cancellations are still likely to remain wary, and are more likely to ask questions about a tour operator’s processes if things do go wrong.  

This means it’s more important than ever to be transparent with customers about the ways you’re protecting them. Funds safeguarding is an important part of that process, giving your customers the confidence that, should the worst happen and your firm goes out of business, their funds are protected. There are also broader benefits to your business and your brand from doing so. 

Legal requirements for funds safeguarding

Legally, tour operators must arrange financial security to protect funds paid for package holidays sold in the UK in the case that they go out of business, as well as legal protection to ensure that customers receive the services they paid for. Arrangers of “linked travel arrangements”, where multiple travel services are purchased separately by the same supplier, must also arrange financial protection in the event they go bust, although passengers booking via this method don’t receive the same level of legal protection as those booking package holidays. 

Outside of those two situations, there are no legal requirements to offer safeguarding of your customers’ funds. However, having a clear policy on how your customers are protected in the case of unexpected problems is likely to remain a strong trust factor, increasing conversion and improving the way customers perceive your brand. 

Methods of safeguarding

Tour operators and other travel providers can arrange financial protection for their customers’ funds in a number of ways. The one customers are most familiar with is through membership of a financial protection scheme such as ABTA or ABTOT. Bookings including a  flight are also covered by the ATOL scheme, administered by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

Travel companies can also take out insurance to cover them in the case of financial failure. Alternatively, they can choose to deposit customer funds into a safeguarding account.

How does a safeguarding account work?

A safeguarding account separates customers’ payments towards non-completed bookings from the rest of a travel company’s finances, holding the funds securely until a customer’s trip has been completed. At this point, they’re released to the travel company and become part of their regular cashflow.

It’s not enough for travel companies to simply set up a separate account for customer funds. A trust account needs to be managed independently to guarantee to consumers that the funds won’t be used by the business before they’ve fully discharged their contractual obligations, preventing pending funds being lost if a firm finds itself in financial difficulties. 

Why choose a safeguarding account over insurance?

When big shifts happen in the travel industry, insurers feel the pinch. Since Thomas Cook’s collapse in 2019 followed by the pandemic, many insurers have left the market, causing an increase in insurance premiums and making it harder for travel companies to access appropriate insurance products. 

Depending on a company’s circumstances, holding customer funds in a safeguarding account could be a more cost-effective method of keeping funds secure, as the cost of maintaining the account could be cheaper than rising insurance premiums.  

A safeguarding account also removes the need to go through the process of claiming against an insurance policy if things go wrong – the money is already there, ready to refund to customers. This gives a strong level of consumer protection as there’s no risk that an insurer chooses not to pay out (or goes bust themselves and is unable to). It also means that travel firms can choose to offer protection for a wider range of circumstances if they wish – insurance typically only refunds customers in the event that the tour operator they’ve booked with goes bust. 

Why use safeguarding over bonding?

Most customers are familiar with the idea of a bonded tour operator – somebody who, as a member of a scheme like ABTA or ABTOT, has financial protection in place in case of their failure. However, claiming funds back via these schemes can be time-consuming and stressful, and again, schemes can come under pressure when there are large-scale issues within the travel industry. 

Safeguarding funds directly can offer an extra benefit that sets a travel company apart from its competition – going the extra mile to protect customers’ funds not only boosts your brand’s trust and increases conversion in the short term, but it can help you to protect your reputation in crisis situations, allowing you to refund customers quickly and efficiently. 

Boost your financial stability by safeguarding funds

While insurance or membership of a scheme like ABTA can fulfil your legal obligations as a tour operator and keep your company safe if things go wrong, safeguarding funds directly can actually help to ensure that your company is more financially stable in the long term. 

By actively segregating pending funds from actual profit, you can maintain a clearer picture of your business’s finances and avoid inadvertently getting into a situation where you’re using customer funds as working capital. This means that if the worst does happen in the form of a future travel crisis, your business is on solid financial footing, and is as well-placed as it can be to weather the storm. 

Secure safeguarding accounts with B4B

As part of the Banking Circle group of companies, B4B Payments’ corporate payment accounts give you everything you need to manage your travel company’s payments effectively. From accepting payments in multiple currencies to making fast, cost-effective cross-border payments to suppliers or tour guides, our accounts help you streamline your payment processes and reduce costs. 

Our safeguarding account functionality also offers a secure method of storing customer funds ahead of their trips, offering them full confidence that their payments are being held securely and independently, and that they’ll receive a refund if anything goes wrong. With full transparency and oversight and support from our team of payments experts, we can support you to ensure that customer funds are held safely and compliantly. 

To find out more about B4B Payments’ safeguarding accounts, get in touch today. 

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How fintech can streamline processes in freight logistics

Freight logistics is an exercise in extreme process optimisation, in search of the most efficient and effective approach to maximise reliability and profit.

Payments and account processes can add a significant amount of time to your processes, but many freight firms still rely on paper invoices and old-fashioned expense management. Streamlining your internal payment processes can help your operations run quickly and seamlessly, saving time for your drivers and your accounts team whilst helping you to present a professional image to your clients.  

Simplify lumper fees with virtual prepaid cards

An unpredictable element of freight logistics is the payment of “lumper fees” – payments made to casual workers for helping to load or unload vehicles. Often, paying lumper fees is left down to truck drivers themselves, who need to carry cash and front the payments themselves before claiming them back as expenses. Not only does this add pressure to your drivers’ finances, it could leave them open to financial loss – carrying cash can be risky. 

Instead of requiring drivers to find their own solutions to pay lumper fees, virtual prepaid cards could offer a fast and secure alternative. Cards can be loaded with funds instantly and delivered to an individual’s email address, giving them the option to spend their funds in millions of locations worldwide. This saves your drivers the stress of making payments themselves, and gives you full transparency and control over lumper fee payments. 

Streamline driver expenses

While most logistics firms use a fuel card scheme to make savings on fuel costs, truck drivers incur a wide range of other expenses as part of their job, and they’re often expected to cover these costs themselves and claim them back as expenses later. From food and accommodation to vehicle repairs and consumables, these costs can add up, and could put pressure on your team’s finances, reducing their engagement and risking increased turnover of hard-to-find professional drivers, as well as causing significant issues and delays if a driver is unable to meet an unexpected expense themselves. 

Broadening your payment card system to incorporate a wider range of expenses than just fuel could make your drivers’ lives significantly easier, and help your day-to-day operations run more smoothly. With prepaid expense cards auto-topped up to a predefined limit, your drivers will never find themselves struggling to pay for essentials when on the road. With the ability to instantly upload photo receipts via a cardholder app, they’ll also save time processing lengthy expense claims, and make your finance team’s reconciliation considerably easier too. 

Make fast, seamless international payments

If you’re in the process of scaling your freight logistics firm, you’ll know just how important trust is in the industry. Your clients need to believe that you’ll do what you say you will, and communicating that trustworthy appearance means being reliable not only in the execution of your contracts but in all the services and interactions that surround it. 

There’s nothing worse than starting out on a contract with a new client only to have the relationship tarnished by payment issues. Even though payment delays can happen and they’re often not your fault, the added stress can make it harder to establish trust and project a professional image, particularly if you’re a new entrant to the market. 

It makes sense, then, to ensure that your payment processes are as robust and reliable as possible, particularly if you’re transferring funds internationally. While high street banks can charge high fees for payments which can take days to go through, a specialist payment provider can give you access to a range of different payment protocols, with faster settlement times and no hidden fees. A specialist provider can also offer easier management of bulk payments, minimising the risk of slip-ups within your payment team, too.

Offer instant bank payment options

If you’re receiving large payments regularly, card fees can start to add up and over time can be a significant drag on your bottom line. It’s tempting to encourage clients to make bank transfer payments instead, but these can be harder to keep track of, not to mention slower. If an urgent job is in the offing, waiting for a bank transfer to be confirmed could cause unacceptable delays, leaving card fees as the only option.

New technology based on Open Banking could help your company to accept bank transfers even when time is of the essence. A new breed of fintech companies, called PISPS (payment initiation service providers), offer direct bank transfer as a payment option alongside card payments. Your clients go through a checkout process similar to making a card payment except that the payment is taken directly from their bank account. You’ll get instant confirmation as soon as the transfer is confirmed, meaning you can get on with the job in the full confidence that your payment has been received. 

Transform your freight logistics payments with B4B

Whatever stage of growth your freight firm is at, B4B Payments’ advanced corporate payment solutions can help you make your payment processes faster and cheaper. From flexible prepaid cards to make expense management a breeze through to advanced corporate payment accounts offering fast, affordable international payments, we can support your business to build a global presence with cutting-edge technology and expert guidance. 

To find out more about how we can help, contact us today.   

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How fintech is transforming the insurance industry

Insurance technology attracted a record $15bn in funding in 2021, cementing itself as a big player in the fintech space.

Insuretech is set to transform almost every aspect of the industry, from quotes through to claims handling, with immense potential to offer customers a more flexible, tailored experience. Better still, insuretech tools can also help to streamline internal processes for insurers, minimising time-consuming admin and maximising profit margins. 

Flexible and on-demand cover

The digitalisation of the insurance industry is most apparent in the increased flexibility available in insurance products. As well as purchasing cover online, customers can quickly make changes to their policies on-demand, reducing strain on call centres as well as providing a better overall customer experience. 

Another fertile path for insuretech is on-demand insurance, allowing learner drivers to purchase coverage on a car owned by themselves or somebody else for just a few hours – perfect for those who only need to drive once or twice a week to practice, and for whom a full annual policy might be prohibitively expensive. 

Artificial intelligence

AI technology is transforming a huge variety of industries, offering the potential to streamline laborious manual processes and complete simple tasks without the need for human intervention.

While in some areas the use of AI is controversial – recruitment, for example, where AI CV screening services are under scrutiny for potentially introducing bias into the process – there are other areas where machine learning technologies can outperform even the most skilled human brains. 

Insurance underwriting is one such area. With the ability to analyse huge datasets to identify trends and uncover new insights, AI is supporting insurers to increase efficiency and assess risk levels more effectively.

AI is also rapidly finding a home in other areas of insurance too, for example AI chatbots to answer simple customer queries and escalate more complex ones to the right team.

Embedded insurance

Embedded finance is the integration of banking systems into non-banking organisations – for example, the addition of “buy now pay later” or instant finance options on purchases, built directly into a retailer’s checkout process. Similarly, embedded insurance is on the rise, and is predicted to be worth over $700bn by 2030

Embedded insurance can be highly visible, for example, offering cancellation coverage during event ticket purchases for an additional fee. However, the greatest potential for embedded insurance lies in more subtle applications. For example, insurance which is automatically bundled with short-term car hire or e-scooter rental means that consumers can simply rent their vehicle without the hassle of arranging separate coverage. 

Instant payouts

The insurance claims process can be a lengthy one, causing stress for customers as well as a drain on insurance companies’ profits through the large amount of manual work involved. It’s no surprise, then, that insuretech companies are targeting this part of the insurance process to make it more streamlined and efficient.

Claims processing is another area where artificial intelligence is coming to the fore. For simple claims, an AI-driven process can scrape data from documentation provided by a customer and, if it meets the required standard, process an instant payout. 

This process not only saves significant resource time, freeing up claims assessors to focus on more complex cases, but can reduce instances of payouts being challenged or rejected. The faster an insurance claim is settled, the lower the likelihood that a customer will challenge the payout, and this can reduce the overall value of claims paid out, significantly increasing profit margins.

Make faster, easier insurance payouts with B4B Payments

With such a wide range of potential benefits, it’s easy to see why insurance firms are turning to technology to fuel their business growth. With B4B Payments’ end-to-end payment offering, we offer everything you need to build your own embedded finance offering, from flexible payment accounts through to instant payments on easy-to-use prepaid cards.

To find out more about B4B Payments’ services for insurers, get in touch today. 

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The new rules of customer loyalty: how to keep your customers engaged

The past couple of years have accelerated digital adoption at breakneck speed, and changed customer behaviour and expectations like never before.

McKinsey described the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behaviour as like covering “a decade in days”, with a rapid shift away from cash to contactless, from in-person to online, and from single-channel to seamless digital integration.

While not all the changes brought about by the pandemic are expected to stick, in some areas there’s no going back. In particular, customers have become accustomed to slick digital experiences, flexibility and personalisation as default, and as always, they’re comparing your brand against a benchmark made up of industry leaders. 

This shift in expectations is as true of loyalty programmes as any other area of your business. 70% of customers now say retailers should use technology to make their rewards programmes more effective. 

So how can brands upgrade their loyalty and rewards programmes to keep customers engaged?

Offer flexibility

Click and collect, fast free delivery, a full mobile experience – customers have never expected more from your brand. During the pandemic, many brands chose to offer more generous terms on loyalty points, extending their expiry dates or expanding their utility. 

While this was a short-term response to the pandemic, either to cover a period during which services were unavailable for air miles schemes, or to encourage alternative options like click and collect compared to redeeming points in-store, it’s likely to stick in customers’ minds. Points which expire too quickly or discounts with too many conditions attached could lose their shine, so consider ways to shake up your scheme and offer your customers more flexibility in how they redeem their rewards. 

Respect customer privacy

Third party data collected via cookies is on the out, with a steady stream of legislation making it harder for brands to gather insights without customers’ express consent. 

While many brands are struggling to imagine a future without their Analytics data, others see it as an opportunity to build stronger relationships with their best customers, choosing instead to focus on collecting “zero party data”, provided directly by customers. 

A loyalty or rewards programme can be an amazing way of building relationships with your customers, giving them a reason to share their data with you in the form of a reward or a clear benefit. Being fully transparent about how you use this data and how it benefits your customers is key – if you use previous purchase data to remind customers when they might be about to run out of a product, or ask for information about their interests and background to make sure you’re offering them discounts on things they could actually use, chances are they’ll be happy to participate. 

Move to tech-enabled schemes

While the benefits offered are a key factor in the success of your loyalty or reward programme, it’s also vital to make sure that customers are able to redeem their rewards in a way that works for them. Increasingly, consumers are turning towards digital payment methods over physical cards. 

Although a real-life card can still serve as a great reminder of your brand every time your customer opens their wallet), 54% of consumers expect to be able to make payments with digital wallets, so ensuring your incentive or reward cards which are compatible with Google or Apple Pay could make it easier for your customers to keep them to hand. 

Similarly, apps can be a valuable method of staying front-of-mind with your customers – 61% would download a retailer’s app to receive better loyalty rewards, and 57% would be more likely to shop if the loyalty programme linked automatically with their payment card. 

Focus on emotional engagement

The buzzword for customer experience during the pandemic was empathy – understanding that both customers and brands were going through a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and working together to get through the associated challenges. While the stakes today aren’t quite as high, empathy is likely to remain high on the agenda as customers struggle with a cost of living crisis and have to make hard decisions about their day-to-day spending. 

For brands, presenting a sympathetic ear to customers is the best way of building loyalty and weathering what’s likely to be yet another challenging period for retailers. 81% of consumers want a relationship with the brands they buy from, and loyalty programmes are a perfect way of establishing and strengthening that. By building a picture of your customers with first-party data and offering personalised content and rewards, your brand can connect with them on an individual level and help move their view of you from disposable to indispensable. 

Build personalised loyalty schemes with B4B Payments

Whatever your customers value, our prepaid cards can help you design a loyalty scheme that’ll keep them engaged with your brand.

Our fully-branded prepaid cards can be delivered physically or virtually, for a physical reminder of your brand they can carry in their wallets or an effortless addition to their Google or Apple Pay. 

Set your cards for use in your own stores, a range of partner stores, or leave them fully open to use in millions of locations worldwide. Offer instant loading of rewards so customers get their incentives immediately, and top up funds over and over again to keep them coming back for more. 

To find out more about how our payment cards can help you build the perfect customer loyalty scheme, contact us and book your demo today.

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How to incentivise Gen Z employees

Gen Z is rapidly expanding their presence and influence in the workforce. The proportion of Gen Z – born between 1995 and 2012 – will increase to 27% by 2025, and like millennials, they’ll bring a different perspective to organisations across the globe.

While Gen Z are fundamentally still people, valuing much the same things as their older peers, they represent a continuation of an accelerating trend towards digitalisation, personalisation and flexibility. While all employees and consumers are expecting more, Gen Z have never known anything different, and this means that they’re less willing to make do with processes and approaches they see as outdated. 

Keeping up with Gen Z employees means embracing the best of what digital has to offer. Here are some ways to keep them engaged: 

Use digital as standard

While a lot of millennials are digital natives – they grew up using digital technology and don’t see it as anything new or exciting – Gen Z take this to a whole new level. While older millennials will remember a time before digital was widespread, and most will remember using clunky older systems or brick-shaped mobile phones, Gen Z has never known a time when technology wasn’t ever-present, fast and seamless. 

This means they have a whole new level of expectation when it comes to how your business uses technology, and very little patience for outdated computer systems or physical processes. While millennial employees can adapt, Gen Z are digital by default, and will think less of your company if you’re not able to meet their expectations. 

For firms who are bringing in Gen Z employees for the first time, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Your younger team members won’t tolerate inefficient or non-user-friendly processes – and really, why should they, or any of your other employees? While older employees might have been willing to make do, Gen Z could be the push your organisation needs to redesign its processes and move to modern, digital systems across the board, with wide-ranging benefits to your entire business. 

Offer flexible payment options

Raised in the era of fast delivery options, easy subscription services and on-demand access to everything from TV to taxis, Gen Z are hard-wired to prefer flexibility. This extends to their financial behaviour too – 42% of Gen Z members used a buy-now-pay-later payment option in 2021, with 20% of those preferring to use a BNPL option over their existing credit card. 

With a more flexible approach to their finances across the board, Gen Z value getting what they want as soon as possible. This even extends to their salaries – 61% of Gen Z survey respondents said that they’d like their employer to offer a daily wage payment option, giving them the ability to manage their finances in a more agile manner. 

Full disclosure – it’s likely that a big reason for this is that Gen Z are still relatively new to the workforce, with many working casual or gig economy jobs and struggling to build a base of financial stability (daily payments make it easier to pay down overdrafts and loans earlier, saving interest). There’s no guarantee this preference will remain when they’ve moved into more established careers. However, offering on-demand wage payment via a prepaid card could be a great way of incentivising casual workers, allowing them to see the fruits of their labours as quickly as possible.

Offer community and connection

Gen Z’s entrance to the workforce has been anything but routine. With a global pandemic interrupting their early years in work, many have found themselves working remotely or under strict social distancing protocols. While remote working is here to stay, many younger employees are feeling the lack of social interaction with their colleagues, and surveys are showing that increasing numbers of them would prefer at least some in-person interaction at work. 

Even if your company does work fully remotely, building a sense of community and connection at work is vital for all your employees, but likely to have the most profound impact amongst those who are new to the world of work. By giving your younger team members a chance to interact with and learn from more established employees, you’ll not only help to boost their experience and skillset more quickly, but to keep them engaged and focussed on their work. Whether that’s through regular virtual catch-ups, hybrid working models or even enforced in-person working days for some teams, helping Gen Z to establish themselves in their careers is likely to require a careful balance of the benefits of remote working and in-person collaboration. 

Deliver personalised rewards

It’s no secret that Gen Z are champions of diversity and inclusion, with the most inclusive and accepting views of any generation yet. While this obviously means your company will need to be on top of its diversity policies, there’s a more subtle point here – a generation who are more open and accepting of individual expression is likely to be far more diverse in their preferences when it comes to rewards and incentives – and more outspoken when their expectations aren’t met. 

While earlier generations might shrug off a poorly-chosen gift with “it’s the thought that counts”, Gen Z have far higher expectations when it comes to personalisation. Gen Z’s priority is manifesting their individuality, and they value employers who respect this. 

This means that when it comes to incentives or rewards, it’s far better to offer the ability to choose than to take a risk at guessing, or even worse, offering up a one-size-fits-most option. With flexibility high on the agenda for Gen Z, open choice options like prepaid cards give all employees the opportunity to choose a reward that’s right for them, without being limited to a store which might not suit them. 

Offer employee flexibility with B4B Payments

The watchword for Gen Z is flexibility, and with B4B Payments you can make your payment, incentive and rewards processes more flexible than ever, keeping all your employees more engaged and happy. From exciting reward schemes based off our flexible virtual or physical prepaid cards to advanced payment processes that make it possible to pay your team daily if they prefer, our end-to-end payment solutions can help you deliver more for your team members.

To find out more about how we can help you incentivise your team, contact us today. 

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Modernise your scrap metal business with innovative payment processes

The scrap metal industry is worth £4bn in the UK alone, and continues to grow despite a challenging few years, including a drop in demand as a result of COVID and constraints on the price of scrap metal due to regulatory changes surrounding imports in China. 

High demand means that prices of metals are expected to continue to rise in spite of recent volatility, and a continued shift towards greener manufacturing methods such as EAF steel production is driving ongoing demand for recycled materials. 

While the future looks bright for the scrap metal recycling industry, high demand for metals like steel and aluminium is likely to drive increased competition amongst merchants, and wider market forces mean that while the overall trend is likely to be upwards, there could be some bumps along the way. 

To maximise profitability and performance of your scrap metal business, it’s important to make sure that your payment processes are as efficient and streamlined as possible – this not only reduces your manpower costs, but can help you to effectively manage compliance, keeping your business’s risk levels low.

Better still, an efficient, modern approach can help you deliver a better experience to your customers, encouraging loyalty and repeat business, and helping you stand out against the competition. 

So how can modernising your payments help drive the growth of your scrap metal business?

Make KYC compliance a breeze

With metal theft causing widespread issues from areas as diverse as trains to road signs, scrap metal dealers are subject to a range of legislation to ensure that they’re not inadvertently supporting metal theft. 

The 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act makes it illegal to buy scrap metal using cash, and requires dealers to verify the identity of all sellers by confirming photographic ID and proof of address. 

B4B Payments’ Bread4Scrap cards eliminate the need for scrap metal dealers to carry out these checks themselves – we handle it all when customers activate their Bread4Scrap card, and provide a full audit trail in our easy-to-use management platform. So, you can be fully confident that you’re meeting compliance requirements without the need to manually verify your customers’ documents. 

Instant payouts

Without the option to pay cash for scrap metal, dealers are often forced to resort to slower payment options like cheque or bank transfer. This can be frustrating for customers, who have to wait for cheques to clear, or anxiously watch for bank transfers hitting their account, days after their transaction has been completed. While it’s necessary to ensure compliance with Home Office legislation, these old-fashioned payment methods don’t deliver the best customer experience.

Prepaid cards like Bread4Scrap can transform the process. Instead of writing a cheque or sending a bank transfer, funds are loaded instantly onto a prepaid contactless MasterCard which your customers can use instantly. With the ability to spend in millions of physical or online locations worldwide or withdraw cash directly from an ATM, your customers get their funds instantly, with no waiting around. 

Alternatively, if customers don’t want to sign up for a card, you can use Bread4Scrap to make direct bank transfers, with lower transaction costs than your local bank. 

Encourage repeat custom

A huge benefit of a prepaid Bread4Scrap card is that they make repeat custom a breeze. Once a customer has activated their card and passed the Know Your Customer checks, cards can continue to be reloaded with more funds over and over again. 

This means that for existing customers, it’s likely to be far easier to return to your business than to go to a competitor, where they’ll need to go through the hassle of verifying their identity all over again. This encourages your customers to stay with you, in the knowledge that they’ll receive their funds instantly.

Better still – if a customer already has a Bread4Scrap card from another merchant, it’s easy to use the same card to add them to your system with minimal admin. 

Access easy reporting

A strong data strategy is vital to growing your business – understanding trends in performance and customer behaviour can give you the insights you need to spot new opportunities and take advantage of them, boosting your profitability. 

Bread4Scrap’s easy to use management platform gives you a comprehensive data reporting system, so you can easily track transaction data. It also integrates fully with FRED5 as well as a range of market leading accounting platforms, so you can automatically keep all your data in sync without the need to enter details multiple times.  

Transform your payment processes with Bread4Scrap from B4B Payments

Thousands of scrap metal recycling agents across the UK trust Bread4Scrap to make simple and secure cashless payments. With the ability to make fully compliant payments in minutes and no hidden fees, our system helps you stay in line with regulation and deliver an excellent customer experience. 

To find out more about how Bread4Scrap could work for you, get in touch today. 

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Scrap metal compliance: the regulations you need to know

The scrap metal recycling industry is hugely varied, made up of everything from small, family run firms to international corporations.

It’s also a heavily regulated industry, and regardless of the size of your firm, scrap metal dealers need to stay on top of a wide range of different legislation to maintain compliance, with stiff penalties if they’re found to have operated outside of the rules.

B4B Payments’ Bread4Scrap card helps scrap metal recycling companies stay compliant with regards to buying scrap metal, but there’s lots more to be aware of. Here are the main areas of legislation affecting scrap metal dealers in the UK:

The Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013

In 2013, 2% of all police-recorded crime in England and Wales was related to metal theft. The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act was brought into try and combat this trend. The main elements of the legislation (and similar rules brought in slightly later in Scotland) are as follows:

Licensing of scrap metal traders – The legislation requires that all scrap metal traders hold a license issued by their local authority. Those found trading without a licence face a fine of up to £5000. While the specific regulations in Scotland are slightly different, the main principles are the same. Scrap metal dealers must hold a Metal Dealer’s license issued by their local council, and must keep records of the scrap metal they handle or face a fine. 

Payments for scrap metal – The Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013 also bans cash payments for scrap metal, requiring buyers to pay via cheque, bank transfer or another electronic funds transfer Legislation introduced in Scotland in 2016 also banned the payment of cash for scrap metal in the same way.  

Identity verification – In England, Wales and Scotland, scrap metal dealers must verify the identity of anybody they buy scrap from. This means seeing a valid photo ID like a passport or driver’s license, as well as separate proof of address in the form of a utility bill or bank statement. 

GDPR

While the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act is the most obvious piece of legislation affecting scrap dealers, the requirement to verify the identity of sellers also increases their responsibilities under the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulations, with risk of a fine of up to 4% of turnover if they’re not compliant. 

By requiring scrap metal traders to hold copies of their sellers’ identity documents, as well as potentially holding bank details for making bank transfer payments, the regulations place a lot of responsibility onto scrap metal businesses to keep their clients’ data safe and secure from theft or cyber-attack, as well as to ensure that information is only held for as long as necessary. 

While GDPR compliance can seem complicated, the basic principles of data security are fairly simple: ensure that any information on your sellers is held securely, either in a locked filing cabinet or in a secure digital format like a password-protected cloud drive, and ensure that only the people within your organisation who have a need to access this data are able to do so. You should also ensure you have a retention policy in place and periodically clean up old data – the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act requires that records are kept for three years, after which documents should be securely destroyed or deleted. The Information Commissioner’s Office offers plenty of advice on how to ensure GDPR compliance and hold customer data securely.

Environmental regulations

As well as the legal aspects of physically buying scrap metal, traders have a range of responsibilities for how they handle and dispose of materials which could be hazardous to people or to the environment. 

You may need additional permits to handle scrap metal contaminated with hazardous materials, including radioactive materials, plastic, rubber or oil. Special waste such as battery casings, aerosols, fluorescent tubes or waste oil filters may also require that you meet additional compliance requirements when storing, transporting, treating and disposing of it. The End of Life Vehicle Regulations 2004 also require special handling of scrap vehicles to ensure that brake fluid, fuel, oil and other pollutants are removed and stored appropriately. 

Health and Safety

Last but not least, employers have a duty to their employees under Health and Safety regulations, and the realities of the scrap metal trade mean that there are numerous potential hazards that need to be managed to keep workers safe. Scrap metal dealers need to be aware of the potential risks in their business premises, from manual handling and working at height to fire or explosion risks and the potential hazards associated with operating specialist machinery.

Health and Safety breaches carry tough penalties in the UK, with the average health and safety fine in 2018/19 reaching £150,000, and over £54million in total fines issued. That’s not including the potential loss of productivity if employees get hurt, as well as the potential damage to your business’s reputation if things go badly wrong. 

 While Health and Safety gets a bad rap in the UK, compliance is largely based on common sense, and the stereotype of over-eager health and safety measures is mostly untrue. In fact, good Health and Safety management can help to make your business run more efficiently, ensuring that workers are trained in the safest, more effective ways of working and preventing lost productivity and delays due to sub-optimal working practices. 

Get a head start on compliance with Bread4Scrap by B4B Payments

With so many different compliance areas to juggle, scrap metal recycling businesses have a lot on their plates. Thankfully, Bread4Scrap from B4B Payments can take some of the pressure off. By paying scrap metal sellers on a flexible prepaid card, you can ensure you’re compliant with Home Office regulations banning cash payments and, because Bread4Scrap handles customer verification checks for you when a user first activates their card, there’s no need to process or store sensitive information like copies of identity documents, making your GDPR compliance smoother too. 

Thousands of scrap metal recycling agents across the UK trust Bread4Scrap to make simple and secure cashless payments. With the ability to make fully compliant payments in minutes and no hidden fees, our system helps you stay in line with regulation and deliver an excellent customer experience. 

To find out more about how Bread4Scrap could work for you, get in touch today. 

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Reasons why you should choose prepaid cards over fuel cards

With fuel costs surging, it’s no surprise that fleet owners are taking steps to track and control their spend levels. Fuel cards are a big industry – it’s estimated to grow to over $2.5 trillion by 2030

While for larger fleets, specific fuel cards can be a useful way of managing mileage and maintenance scheduling, a specific system for fuel can be overkill for smaller businesses. Here are some reasons you might want to consider an all-in-one solution for your transport expense management, and opt for a prepaid card scheme instead of a fuel card:

More flexible 

Fuel cards do what they say on the tin – they’re used to purchase fuel. However, your drivers will incur a range of different expenses while they’re on the road, from food and subsistence to accommodation, tolls and even emergency repairs. 

The benefit of a B4B Payments prepaid expense card is that it can be used in millions of locations worldwide, on a huge range of different products and services. This means your team can carry a single payment card for all their company expenses. 

Some fuel cards are also linked to a specific chain of petrol stations, potentially forcing your team to go out of their way and rack up unnecessary mileage to find a participating station. A B4B prepaid card works just like an ordinary debit card, so it can be used in millions of locations worldwide.

Consolidated reporting

Managing expenses can be a time-consuming process for your finance team – collecting spend data from multiple systems is inefficient and can result in mistakes if information has to be manually copied from one place to another. 

With a single prepaid card to manage all your company expenses, your data will all be accessible from a single easy-to-use reporting platform. With easy categorisation of expenses and seamless integration into accounting platforms like Sage or Xero, your team will save countless hours on manual data entry which they can spend on analysing trends and spotting opportunities to make savings instead. 

Virtual cards

If your team member loses their fuel card, this can put them in a difficult situation. They (or you) will need to contact the card issuer to have it blocked, and will have to pay for their fuel themselves and claim back their expenses later. If your driver doesn’t have the available balance in their own accounts to do this, they’re stuck. 

With prepaid B4B cards, you have full control. Lost or stolen cards can be blocked instantly by your own team from within the management portal, or cardholders can do this themselves via the cardholder app. Replacing a B4B card is also much easier than replacing a fuel card – new card details can be sent out virtually and used over Apple or Google Pay on your team member’s phone, so there’s no need for them to cover the cost of fuel or other expenses themselves. 

Budget Control

A big difference between most fuel cards and B4B’s prepaid cards is that fuel cards operate on a credit basis – your usage is charged to you in arrears after its been spent. This can cause problems for your cashflow if expenses are higher than average one month. 

With prepaid cards, it’s only possible to spend the balance on the card, and there’s no credit facility, so it’s not possible to overspend. If your team needs additional funds you can load these instantly, but you’ll know about this in advance so there’ll be no nasty surprises at the end of the month. 

Lower fees

Depending on the volume of vehicles and mileage, prepaid cards can be better value than fuel cards. While at scale, fuel cards can help companies save by offering a discount on fuel costs, there are also a number of fees associated with holding a fuel card, from an annual charge per vehicle to a minimum usage level and surcharges for using them for things like motorway toll roads. 

B4B prepaid cards have no hidden fees and no minimum spend, so for smaller fleets or lower mileage requirements, you could find that the lower running costs offset the fuel discount you’d receive from a fuel card. 

Streamline your fleet expenses with B4B Payments

If you’re running a smaller fleet of vehicles or employing casual drivers, B4B Payments’ prepaid cards could help you take the stress out of managing your fleet expenses. With greater flexibility than a fuel card and no hidden fees, a prepaid card scheme could help you save time and money on fuel and driver expenses.

To find out more about how we could help, book a demo today.

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Creating innovative and seamless payment experiences

A survey by JP Morgan showed that 90% of respondents believed that payments are integral to the customer experience.

In the same survey, 52% or European executives said that the most important factor for payment experiences was that it was easy to use, quick, and frictionless.

There’s obvious logic there – if payments are easy and feel effortless, there’s less likelihood that customers will reconsider or give up on their purchases before completing their transaction, increasing conversion rates. 

It’s easy to talk about how payments should be frictionless, but what does that actually mean? We’ve set out the main priorities businesses should be focussed on to ensure that their payment processes feel effortless to customers, for the highest possible conversion and customer lifetime value. 

Start with user needs

While it’s hard not to get excited about the huge range of new payment technology hitting the market every year, it is important to take a step back and take a pragmatic look at what your customers actually need in terms of payment options. Often, simpler experiences are the smoothest ones, and trying to over-engineer your payment options to cover every eventuality might not have the effect on your customer experience you were hoping for. 

Think carefully about the journey your customers or clients go through when they work with you, and the experience of making or receiving payments from their perspective. Consider carrying out interviews, focus groups or user testing to figure out where the biggest sticking points are, and use this insight to improve your processes. 

Not only can understanding your users help you tailor simple things like the payment providers you offer, it could help spark ideas for more innovative offerings. For example, Swedish FinTech startup Juni created a system designed specifically to support ecommerce businesses after their own experiences juggling card payments across multiple online advertising platforms. 

Integrate for seamless experiences

Delivering seamless payment experiences for users can help to maximise conversion, reducing the risk of failures when customers are redirected to third party sites, and reducing the friction and visual jolt of being shifted somewhere else. 

Integrating payment features directly into your website, using an API to connect to a payment provider rather than pushing your users to their own website to complete payment, requires a greater level of tech investment than simply redirecting to a third party, but the resulting increase in conversion rate could more than pay for the up-front cost. 

Integrated payments don’t have to be online-only, either. Accelerated by COVID low-contact policies, businesses like restaurants are also seeing the benefit of innovative payment options, such as QR codes on bills which allow customers to individually pay their share on their phones via Google or Apple Pay, giving real-time notification to the restaurant that the bill has been settled and getting customers on their way faster without having to wait for a card machine to be brought to the table. 

Focus on accessibility

Accessibility is a key priority for designing seamless payment experiences. Good accessibility doesn’t just make your payments process easier for those with disabilities – it improves the experience for everybody. High-profile organisations like Gov.UK have invested in making their payment systems more accessible, while payment providers like Paypal have built a reputation for thought leadership around accessibility. 

From basic accessibility features like ensuring your payment system is easy to use with screen readers to accommodations for those with cognitive disabilities like dyslexia or dyscalculia, there are lots of factors to consider, and it could be worth getting specialist advice on ways to make your platform more accessible. However, at a base level, things like using image alt text, clearly describing any video or audio content, and ensuring that your payment screens are clearly laid out and display well on both desktop and mobile can help make your system more accessible for all your customers. 

Prioritise security and compliance

It’s worth emphasising that while consumers value seamless experiences, they’re no less focussed on data security, and the safety of their payment details remains a concern. 51% of respondents to a Paysafe survey in late 2020 said that they’d use any type of security measure if it meant their purchase was secure. 

With this in mind, it’s important not to compromise security in the name of innovation. While Open Banking and other embedded finance technologies are increasing the security of online payments, payment providers and retailers alike have a responsibility to keep customers safe. 

If you’re building a more innovative or advanced payment feature, chances are you’ll be taking on some form of compliance responsibility, and this can mean lengthy and costly license applications. Instead of going it alone, consider whether partnering with a BIN sponsor like B4B Payments could help you get your offering to market quicker. Working with a BIN sponsor means you can launch your offering leveraging your sponsor’s own licenses and authorisations, and that they’ll also shoulder much of the responsibility for ensuring security and regulatory compliance, from providing pre-built policies to supporting with fraud monitoring and detection. 

Deliver a seamless payment proposition with B4B Payments

Whether you’re building a custom embedded finance solution for your own customers, or creating a FinTech offering to serve a wider audience, B4B Payments is here to help, with expert support and 15 years’ experience in FinTech innovation. To find out about how our end-to-end payment solutions or our next-generation BIN Sponsorship 2.0 offering could help you revolutionise your payments, get in touch today.