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Meeting consumer demand for innovative payment options

The COVID pandemic acted as a catalyst for a wide range of behavioural trends, accelerating adoption of a wide range of digital technologies from video calls to cashless payments.

Over a quarter of payments made in the UK in 2020 were made digitally, and this figure is set to increase even further. 

For consumers who’ve had a taste of more streamlined and flexible payment options, there’s no going back. Options like instant click-and-collect or QR-code based ordering in bars have shown customers a new level of innovation, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be willing to give these new, convenient options up again.  

For retailers and payment providers, this means that the pressure to keep up with rapidly-increasing customer demand has never been fiercer. With the cost of living crisis affecting consumer confidence and reducing spending, it’s never been more important to maximise conversion, and that means making payment as easy and seamless as possible. 

So how can you keep up to date with changing customer priorities, and ensure that you’re offering the most innovative payment options?

Offer a range of payment options with payment orchestration

With so many different payment options out there, offering a choice is the best way to ensure that your customers are able to pay using their preferred platform. While this can get complicated, a new wave of “payment orchestration” services make it easy for retailers to offer a range of payment options by combining multiple PSP’s into a single platform. 

While offering more choice is a benefit in itself, payment orchestrators take this to the next level by offering smart payment routing, directing customers to the lowest-fee options for merchants as well as automatically retrying declined transactions to minimise the risk of payment failure. While payment orchestration is a relatively new concept, it has the potential to streamline both customer experience and merchant processes to offer a win-win improvement in payment processing. 

Create seamless experiences with embedded finance

Whatever payment options you offer to your customers, it’s vital that their experience of shopping with you is fast and seamless. The days of being redirected from a checkout to a third-party payment processor are numbered, and consumers increasingly expect to be able to make payments directly within your interface, with no interruptions or jarring shifts to another website and back. 

Keeping up with customer expectations means investing in embedded finance functionality, integrating your payment services directly within your own platform via API’s (as far as possible, at least) rather than forwarding customers to another site to complete their purchase. 

Embrace instant payments with Open Banking

Instant payments have exploded in recent years. Largely driven by growth in the Asia Pacific region, the instant payment market reached $70bn in 2020, and is expected to grow to $200bn by 2024.

Open banking technology has made instant bank transfer payment a realistic option for a new wave of consumers, offering high levels of security, with no need to share their bank details. Real-time settlement also means that payments are deducted from customers’ accounts instantly, giving them a high level of visibility and control over their funds.

Instant payments also offer some clear benefits over card payments for retailers, with instant receipt of funds helping to boost cashflow and a reduction in the amount businesses spend on card processing fees. Instant payments can also reduce the risk of fraud or chargebacks, making them a tempting option for businesses.

Look to crypto for longer-term innovation

While it’s still very much a nascent industry, cryptocurrency payments are high on the agenda for financial institutions across the globe. With Visa and Mastercard offering support for Bitcoin in 2021, and a new raft of crypto-funded credit cards hitting the market in recent years, a growing number of companies are beginning to accept cryptocurrency payments.

While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum fluctuate frequently, stablecoins like Tether and US Dollar Coin, which track against existing major currencies, are growing rapidly – according to McKinsey, stablecoin transactions worth $3 trillion took place in the first half of 2021 alone. 

Beyond simply working as a currency, crypto has the potential to revolutionise payments in the form of Decentralised Finance, or DeFi. DeFi technology has been touted as a major disruptor, with the potential to reduce international transaction fees to near-zero and make it possible to transfer funds rapidly across borders without the need for traditional banking rails. 

While it’s a way off yet, payments businesses are taking crypto seriously, and DeFi should be on the radar for any business who wants to be at the forefront of payment innovation. 

Stay at the cutting edge with B4B Payments

At B4B Payments we’re proud to have been at the forefront of FinTech innovation for over 15 years, and now as part of the Banking Circle group of companies we’re better placed than ever to help you make your FinTech dreams a reality. 

To find out more about how we can help you deliver innovative payment propositions, get in touch today. 

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Streamlining processes for commercial drivers

The world is currently suffering from an unprecedented shortage in commercial drivers.

There’s currently a lack of drivers in all regions except Eurasia, and the problem is set to grow further through 2023. While steps are being taken to encourage more people to train as HGV drivers, the problem is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, making it more important than ever to streamline transport and logistics operations and avoid wasting limited resource. 

Professional drivers have a lot on their plates, from managing paperwork and delivery notes to maintaining vehicle checklists and tachographs. Making their job as easy as possible means they’re able to focus on the vital aspects of getting the job done. 

Streamline expense management

For drivers managing higher-than-usual workloads as a result of staff shortages, it’s unsurprising that compromises might have to be made to get the job done – and collecting receipts to submit expense claims is unlikely to be top priority, no matter how important it is to your accounts team. 

By shifting expenses onto a B4B prepaid card system, you can make this job as easy as possible for your drivers. Having a specific card for company expenses will also make it easier for your drivers to separate their personal spending from business expenses, removing the need to fill in lengthy expense claim forms, and saving them from having to pay the costs up front and claim back later. Better still, with a cardholder app that allows them to photograph receipts and instantly upload them to you, you’ll save time chasing VAT receipts!

Put fuel and expense payments in one place

While many companies operating larger fleets use fuel cards, prepaid cards have some advantages which makes them worth considering as an alternative. Prepaid cards offer a single solution for both fuel and other expenses, like accommodation and subsistence, reducing the need for your drivers to juggle different systems and meaning you can view all your expense data in a single easy-to-use platform. 

Prepaid cards also work on a debit basis rather than a credit basis – so you’ll load each card with the necessary funds, and won’t risk unexpected surprises if spend runs higher than you’d anticipated. If your drivers need more funds, it’s easy to instantly top them up, or to set an automatic top-up level that they’ll return to each day. 

Make payments easy for delivery drivers

If you’re employing more casual delivery drivers, prepaid cards can be a great method of payment. Prepaid cards take the hassle out of managing payroll systems, with no need to collect bank details – your drivers can receive their wages in a convenient physical or virtual prepaid card they can then withdraw as cash or spend in millions of locations worldwide. 

Prepaid cards as a payment system for casual workers also means you can increase the frequency of payments if desired, for example paying your team daily rather than fortnightly or monthly. This can help keep your team engaged, and give them more control over their finances, increasing retention and engagement.

Deliver rewards and incentives

With a shortage of drivers, it’s important to keep your team as engaged and happy as possible to minimise staff turnover and maximise productivity and performance. Reward programs can be a great way of showing appreciation for your team’s hard work, as well as incentivising them for good performance. 

A driver incentive program based on prepaid cards can offer your fleet drivers rewards they can use on whatever they like, so there’s no risk of your reward not hitting the mark, or of risking offending people by giving a gift that doesn’t fit their personal or religious preferences. 

Prepaid cards are also reusable, so you can continue to reward your drivers for staying up to date with training, driving safely and achieving their KPI’s, or for minimising their mileage. 

Take control of your fleet expenses with B4B Payments

With fuel costs soaring, there’s never been a better time to take control of your expense and payment management. By implementing a comprehensive expense management system based on prepaid cards, you can keep control of your costs, easily manage receipts, and instantly track spend. 

Find out more by visiting our dedicated page or alternatively completing our form HERE. We believe we can help you save time and money on fleet expenses, so get in touch!

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Do I need a VIBAN? A guide to international payments for businesses

Cross-border trade is booming, and a growing number of businesses are looking outside their own borders as part of their post-pandemic recovery strategies. 

72% of SME’s have made a strategic decision to look for new opportunities in new markets, and 43% say they now do more business overseas as a result of the pandemic. 

While many are seeing success, cross-border payments remain a sticking point for many businesses. Nearly half of small businesses surveyed said that high fees and poor exchange rates were a problem. 

If you’re expanding your business internationally, the bank account you use could have a real impact on your bottom line. While traditional high street banks often charge a premium for cross-border payments, a new wave of digital banking services is making it easier and more cost-effective to do business globally. 

If you’re increasing the number of international payments you’re making, a specialist payment account with the ability to issue VIBAN accounts could bring a range of benefits and make doing business oversees easier, faster and cheaper. 

What is a VIBAN?

An IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, is a system of identifying bank accounts internationally to make cross-border payments easier and reduce the risk of errors. 

A virtual IBAN, or VIBAN, looks and acts exactly the same as an IBAN, with the exception that instead of representing a single physical account, a VIBAN is ‘mapped’ to another account with its own unique IBAN. This means you can create multiple VIBANs which all ‘map’ to the same central bank account, and that offers a ton of potential benefits to businesses. 

Easily grow your international presence

Building an international presence for your business can bring a host of challenges relating to payments. With traditional bank accounts, you’re usually only able to operate in a single currency, and international payments, while possible, often come with extra fees attached. This means that many businesses end up operating multiple accounts with multiple banks to cover the countries in which they operate. 

B4B’s VIBAN accounts are multi-currency, and can receive payments in 25 different currencies as standard. This means you can receive international payments and automatically convert them to your local currency before they hit your central bank account. This means no hassle juggling multiple accounts, and a smoother reconciliation process for international payments. 

Make faster international payments

High street banks often aren’t set up to manage high volumes of international payments, so if your business is expanding globally, you might need a more specialised option. 

B4B’s VIBAN payment accounts are specifically designed to handle high volumes of local or international payments. You can send outbound payments in over 25 currencies via banking rails using schemes like Faster Payments, SWIFT, CHAPS, SEPA or ACH in the USA. 

Because our accounts are designed to handle high volume, you’ll achieve faster settlement times than with many high street banks. 

Save on payment and FX fees

If you send or receive foreign currency payments into a normal bank account, you’ll often attract high fees for making payments via banking rails like CHAPS, as well as for currency conversion on payments received in foreign currencies. 

B4B’s VIBAN accounts can receive payments in 25 different currencies, with up-to-date exchange rates and no hidden fees. This means you’ll be able to convert funds received to a VIBAN into your local currency at as close to market rates as possible, adding up to huge savings over time. 

Make reconciliation easier

With a single bank account, it can be difficult to unpick exactly what area of the business different payments relate to, and you’ll be heavily reliant on the payment reference attached to a specific transaction. If your customer types their reference wrong, it can be time-consuming and difficult to track the payment down. 

With multiple VIBANs all feeding into a single account, you can give a client their own unique bank details with which to pay you, so there’s no need for a reference number. This means you can track the sources of payments much more effectively, easily segregate different types of payments for faster reconciliation. 

Keeping payments organised using VIBANs can also help to increase transparency around where different sources of funds have come from, reducing AML and KYC risk .

Issue international accounts to your customers

The ability to create multiple VIBAN accounts isn’t just useful for managing your business’s own payments. If you’re a payments business, you can also use VIBANs to issue bank accounts to your customers.  

Issuing your own VIBANs to clients is a fast, simple way of offering payment accounts as part of your service offering, with quick account setup and a great customer experience. Better still, VIBAN accounts will be in your client’s own name, not your business’s, so there’s no confusion for customers making payments to these accounts. 

Make international payments easy with B4B Payments

If you’re growing your business, B4B Payments could help you save money and time. To find out more about how you could streamline your high volume international and local payments using a B4B Payments account and VIBAN virtual account numbers, get in touch today.

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How instant payouts can improve customer engagement and loyalty

For customers, faster is usually better, and streamlining processes to ensure that payouts are made promptly is an obvious way of improving your customer experience.

There are real benefits to businesses from speeding up disbursements too, from boosted reputation and lifetime customer value to reduced resource usage and a reduction in complaints and customer service requests. 

Real-time payments are a growing trend both in the B2B and B2C spaces. Open banking technology combined with Faster Payments is making it possible to pay out funds instantly to customers’ bank accounts, while prepaid cards offer a similar experience with added brand recognition and convenience benefits. 


While it’s not ideal, customer returns are part of doing business, and the way your business handles these has a huge impact on your customer experience. Two thirds of shoppers say that refund times are an important factor in their decision on whether to return to a merchant. 

Being able to offer refunds instantly, either to a prepaid card or direct into a customer’s bank account, could have a real impact on customer retention and repeat purchase rates. Some companies, like Amazon, even offer to process refunds before the returned items have been processed – while this might seem risky, Amazon has clearly found that the improvement in customer experience and increased loyalty from honest customers is worth the extra hassle it might cause with a few bad eggs. 

Reward and incentive payments

Reward and incentive programmes are proven methods of increasing customer engagement, loyalty, and lifetime value. The most effective reward is one which happens as soon as possible after a customer completes the required tasks – instant gratification helps link the thrill of receiving a benefit or reward to the action they took to earn it (a purchase or recommendation, for example). This means that the behaviour is reinforced much better than with an incentive which takes some time to come through. 

While discounts or points can be a good incentive mechanism, they require long term action to build up, and this can reduce the “instant gratification” element somewhat. To get the maximum bang for your buck on incentive programmes, consider depositing cash straight onto a prepaid virtual card for users to spend right away – not only does this give them instant reinforcement of their decision to support your brand, but it means they’ll be able to use their reward straight away, rather than waiting for enough points to build up. 

Gaming payouts

In the gaming industry, fast payouts can significantly increase customer engagement and maximise the chances of repeat business – if a customer receives the funds from a big win straight away, they’re more likely to reinvest some or all of it into more gameplay, compared to receiving it several days later when some of the excitement has waned. 

Gaming companies can also increase customer loyalty and engagement by offering payouts on a branded pre-paid card. Not only does this allow funds to be deposited instantly, but it ensures that a customer’s winnings are separated from the rest of their finances, maximising the chances that they’re re-used for more gaming rather than absorbed into day-to-day expenses. 

International payments

If you do business internationally, you’ll be aware of how stressful cross-border payments can be. With longer settlement times and hefty fees compared to domestic bank transfers, sending money to foreign bank accounts can be a challenging process, and this can affect your reputation if the client or customer on the other end is getting impatient. 

With B4B Payments’ corporate payment accounts, you can send cross-border payments quickly and efficiently over banking rails, reducing settlement times and keeping your overseas customers or clients engaged. 

For customers who need refunds or other payments quickly, a virtual prepaid card could even reduce settlement times to zero. By transferring funds on a virtual prepaid MasterCard or Visa card, your customers receive their funds instantly via email, and can withdraw it from an ATM or spend it in millions of locations worldwide. 

Insurance payouts

If you’re in the insurance industry, the benefit of making an instant settlement goes deeper than simple customer experience. 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. 

Paying insurance claims quickly via instant bank transfer or onto a prepaid card can mean both happier customers and improved business performance. 

For travel insurance, virtual prepaid cards could make it easy to get funds to customers for fixed-price claim items such as delays or cancellations, or even to cover the cost of emergency alternative travel options or subsistence costs. This saves your customers the hassle of having to cover expenses up front and claim back later, and could be a major USP for your policies. 

Make faster, easier payments with B4B

Whoever you need to get funds to, B4B Payments can help you take advantage of cutting edge technology to make payments as near to instantly as possible. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch today.

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Digital and data driven processes to increase charity donations

The past few years have been challenging for charities in many ways.

With increased cost of living driving increased demand for many charity organisations’ services, it’s also put donations under pressure as regular donors feel the pinch. At the same time, the COVID pandemic has dramatically reduced the number of cash transactions across the UK, reducing a vital revenue stream for many charities. 

With so much change, charities are looking to digital as a way of increasing donation levels to support their work post-pandemic. Many are introducing innovative new approaches to increase donations, helping them weather what’s likely to be a highly uncertain couple of years. 

While some charities are at the forefront of digital innovation, others are still catching up – the most recent Charity Digital Skills Report shows that 40% of charities still don’t have a digital strategy in place, and 17% don’t offer any online services. 

No matter what your charity’s level of digital maturity, there are simple steps you can take to leverage technology to improve donations. Here are a few areas to consider:

Contactless donation options

In 2017, debit card transactions overtook cash as the UK’s most popular payment method, and the pandemic has only accelerated this. It’s predicted that by 2027 only 16% of payments will be made with cash

With spare change donations worth as much as £320 million to charities annually, it’s vital that charitable organisations find alternatives to cash donations quickly. 

Contactless technology is a simple alternative to cash donations, allowing donors to give via a QR code or by tapping a card or smartphone. 

Direct bank payments

QR codes can even leverage Open Banking technologies, allowing people to donate direct from their bank accounts rather than using a debit or credit card. Where direct bank payments used to take time to confirm, many can now be authorised instantly with no need for charities to handle donors’ bank sort codes or account numbers. 

Direct bank payments also mean lower fees payable by the charity, so a greater percentage of donation revenue is retained. 


While QR code and contactless donations mimic the convenience of a change collection box, they don’t replace the “every little helps” concept, where donors are giving loose change that means very little to them. 

Some technology providers are working to replicate this phenomenon – FundStar’s Percy prepaid card makes a micro-donation every time it’s used, allowing customers to give to your charity in tiny increments that they’ll barely even notice. 

Many online retailers also offer similar functionality at their checkouts – for example, Amazon Smile allows customers to set up a preferred charity and donate a percentage of their spend every time they shop. 

Automated gift aid

While encouraging donations is vital, it’s also important to ensure that your charity is maximising the value of every donation it receives. 

The UK government’s Gift Aid small donations scheme allows charities to claim back 25% tax on contactless card donations of £30 or less by activating PAR (Payment Account References), allowing Gift Aid claims for card payments to be automated. 

Streamline your payments with B4B

Whether it’s launching a prepaid card scheme for your donors or enabling direct Open Banking payments, B4B Payments can help you streamline your charity’s payment processes and get the most out of your funds. 

To find out more about how we can help, get in touch today.

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B4B Payments are proud to have won the PayTech Award 2022!

We are thrilled to announce that we have won for ‘Best Corporate Payments Initiative’ Category.

The results were announced on the 1st of July 2022 at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall, attended by the B4B Sales, Marketing and Accounts team and Banking Circle! We have won amongst many reputable finalists including Cal and Custodia, Natwest, National Australia Bank, Monneo and more!

B4B cards have supported charities for urgent expenses during the pandemic. Our corporate virtual expense cards have been one of the key measures put in place to help vulnerable people whom are homeless and at risk. They provide a method for paying for essentials like food, shelter or medical care but also give staff access to a digital management platform where they can track, spend hassle free, whilst being able monitor how much funds have been disbursed monthly and carefully choosing how best to utilize government contracts.

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How reloadables are driving better CX and loyalty

One of the benefits of prepaid cards is that they don’t have to be a single-use item – they can be reloaded again and again.

While many incentives are one-off’s, there’s value to be had from using a prepaid card to build a longer-term relationship with your customers, driving an improved customer experience and building loyalty and engagement with your brand.

So how can reloadable pre-paid cards drive better customer experience and loyalty?

Guarantee Faster Payouts

For businesses who regularly pay out gaming winnings, commission or expenses, chasing payments can be an unnecessary hassle. And for customers who are waiting to receive payments from a business, waiting can be stressful and affect their opinion of a company, even if the payment delay isn’t their fault.

Whether your business is paying out insurance settlements, gaming winnings, referral commissions, or anything else, a pre-paid card can take the stress and uncertainty out of payouts. Because the payments are instant, there’s no waiting for bank transfers to clear, and customers can even receive an SMS notification when their payment has been made.

Drive Repeat Customers

For companies who pay out gaming winnings, commission or other regular loyalty payments, a reloadable pre-paid card can be an efficient way of not only getting customers their funds faster, but of maximising repeat business, too.

Funds loaded onto a prepaid card are automatically “ring-fenced” from a customer’s main bank account, and are therefore less likely to be used on general expenses.

If winnings or loyalty earnings are stored on a separate, branded card, there’s a much greater chance they’ll be used to play again or to purchase a “treat” that’s over and above that customer’s usual spending habits.

Build your Brand

As well as the function of a card, simply having a branded pre-paid card in a customer’s wallet can act as incentive and reminder enough. Having a branded card is a nice, easily recognisable reminder for the customer of your brand.

As well as that though, business today is becoming more and more values-driven – we see customers making decisions on where they spend their money based on ethics, and a pre-paid card is an opportunity to harness this.

For example, offering your customers eco-friendly cards will demonstrate commitments to the environment. You could even partner with charities and offer a donation for every £1 spent on the prepaid card, giving your customers choice in how their spending can have a social impact.

The knowledge that their spending is bringing a benefit to a cause that they identify with can create an all-round better experience for the customer and encourage them to keep coming back.

Keep customers engaged

While a one-off incentive campaign can drive brand awareness and engagement in the short term, some of the most successful customer loyalty campaigns run over the long term – Boots’ Advantage Card scheme and Tesco’s Clubcard have both been around since the 1990’s, meaning some customers will have grown up with the brand as a constant presence in their wallet.

Reloadable cards make it easy to offer similar long-term loyalty schemes – offering cash back for a certain level of spend is a tried-and-tested method of keeping your customers coming back for more. Reloadable prepaid cards can be set to closed-loop, meaning a customer’s earnings can only be spent in your stores.

And with no loading fees on prepaid cards, making small payments is cost-effective, meaning customers can get their loyalty credits or winnings in smaller, more regular increments, keeping engagement levels high.

Gather customer insights

One of the key reasons major brands like Tesco and Boots invest so much in their loyalty schemes is that, as well as driving repeat purchase, their cards provide crucial data and insights into their customers’ shopping behaviours.

B4B’s prepaid cards allow you to view transaction data and understand your customers’ purchase patterns, providing vital insights to feed into your customer experience strategy.

Reloadable prepaid cards can help you build a long-term relationship with your customers, not only by encouraging loyalty and repeat purchase but by providing insights into their behaviour to improve your overall customer experience.

To find out how we can help you with your own prepaid card loyalty scheme, get in touch with B4B Payments today.

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Why insurance firms should take advantage of fintech innovation

PwC found that 74% of insurance companies see fintech as a challenge for their industry.

But, with consumer behaviours already changing pre-COVID and becoming evermore geared towards digital in the post-COVID world, insurance is at risk of being left behind.

But why is it so important that insurance firms take advantage of the latest fintech innovation?

Reaching a younger audience

Younger audiences are an important target audiences for insurance firms. Getting young people to take out a policy now and making sure that your offer suits their needs means potential customers for life, so getting it right with young people is a must.

Typically, Millennial audiences and younger Generation X consumers prefer digital methods for payments and communications. The less direct interaction with a business, the more convenient it is for this demographic to use a service.

Not only that, but this demographic are far less likely to be loyal to financial companies, swapping and changing as their needs evolve. This means that flexible, digital options are absolutely vital.

But PwC’s fintech global report found that, until COVID-19, apps were seen as ‘nice to have’, which means that many insurance companies and financial institutions might not yet be meeting the needs of a younger demographic.

Today, customers expect a great deal of flexibility, and insurtech offers this. Free from legacy products and processes, they use emerging technologies to build brand new systems and are much more targeted, rather than the old-fashioned end-to-end solutions that don’t meet everyone’s needs.

US insurance firm Metromile is a great example of this: by offering customers pay-per-mile insurance, particularly for those who live in urban areas and don’t drive very often, Metromile can offer customers flexible, bespoke insurance policies that meet their unique needs.

Another good example of a flexible, bespoke approach to insurance policies is life insurance firm Vantis Life. By making use of artificial intelligence, Vantis Life were able to underwrite life insurance policies in the US based on public records and third-party data, which meant that many customers didn’t need to undergo medical tests. Again, this minimal contact between customer and insurer will help to attract younger customers.

And AI isn’t just beneficial for the customer – in early 2017, home insurer Lemonade (also based in the US) reported that its AI-powered technology managed to process and settle a theft claim in just three seconds, without paperwork from the customer. It’s estimated that long claim processes can inflate a claim value by up to 30%, so speeding up the payment process can save insurers a great deal of money.

So making insurance processes simpler, more flexible and – most importantly – digital can work wonders for reaching a younger audience. Do it right, and you’ve got a customer for life, so investment in fintech and insurtech can have immense long-term returns for your business.

Build trust between you and your customers

IBM reported in 2020 that 42% of customers don’t trust their insurer. However, a Salesforce study found that 84% of customers globally say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its product or services.

This means that insurance has a long way to go to meet customers’ expectations. But, through fintech, that trust can be built and the customers’ needs can be placed front and centre.

At the time of a claim, customers might be experiencing loss or trauma, through theft or injury, so the interaction between insurer and policy-holder is delicate. No business wants to contribute to a customer’s difficult experiences but some insurers may be inadvertently doing so.

The last thing that customers want when getting back on their feet is a complex and lengthy process – they want efficiency, understanding and, importantly, speed. The quicker the payout, the sooner the customer can get back to their day-to-day life.

Fintech can make this happen. Solutions like virtual cards can offer a simple method of paying a claim that works for everyone. By issuing these cards when a policy is taken out, insurers can be sure that money is being sent to the right place within minutes of a claim being assessed, making for a much simpler and convenient process for customers than old-fashioned methods like bank transfer or – even worse – cheque.

As well as this, customers who receive regular recurring payments, like disability or annuity, can access funds immediately through a prepaid card.

Understand and build loyalty with your customers

Fintech also provides you with opportunities to provide personalised incentives and rewards for your customers in a way that legacy processes simply can’t, whilst also bringing in new revenue streams for your business.

By forming partnerships with other businesses, you can harness fintech to provide bespoke offers. For example, pet insurance claimants can receive discounts at pet shops or health insurance policy-holders could receive discounted gym memberships, when paid for through their prepaid card issued when taking out a policy.

What’s more, by providing this payment option to policy-holders, you can gather useful data on their spending habits to offer tailored products and services that meet their individual needs. This means you can understand your customers better, provide them with a better service, and keep them coming back.

Fintech is opening doors in insurance – don’t be left behind.

With fintech providing opportunities to reach younger customers and, more significantly, keep them coming back, the importance of insurance firms embracing and investing in fintech in a post-COVID world has never been more clear.

To find out how we can help you embed fintech into your insurance firm, contact B4B Payments today.

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E-money leading the digital revolution for Fintechs

Last year, EY found that three out of four consumers across 27 global markets had used an e-money or fintech payment service.

The branch-based model of banking has been on the way out for a long time now – with banking available at customers’ fingertips, demand for digital has grown in huge amounts over the past decade.

In fact, in the UK, e-money and fintech are currently one of the strongest start up sectors. From 2019 to 2020, investment into the sector increased by 35% from £2.44 billion to £3.29 billion – and this was pre-COVID-19!

And, given that UK ATM withdrawals fell by £37 billion from March 2020 to March 2021, COVID has only sped up the move to digital payment.

So how has e-money led the digital revolution?

A major innovation of the past decade has been the development of neobanks.

Neobanks are similar to your regular bank but, instead of operating under the traditional branch-based model, neobanks are exclusively online, accessed predominantly via an app.

There are two type of neobank to consider: real, fully licensed banks, like Monzo, that can do everything a traditional bank can but is purely digital; and E-money instututions (EMIs), like Revolut. An authorised EMI is similar to a bank in that it provides services for customers to make payments and store their money digitally but has some key differences.

Unlike a bank, EMIs often can’t store customers’ money themselves. Instead, money is held by a licensed bank (such as Lloyd’s or Barclay’s) and the EMI provides payment services only. While this means that an EMI can’t give interest on accounts, customers money is kept separate from that of the EMI, which means that it will be protected should the EMI go bust.

Now, banks have been offering online services for years, so the concept of accessing money digitally isn’t new. And it’s true that, unlike a bank, an EMI couldn’t typically offer investment, deposit or credit services, unless they got additional authorisation. However, despite being subject to strict licensing, regulation and oversight, they can be set up much more quickly and efficiently.

This does of course mean that the services an EMI can offer their customers are more limited than those of a bank but what makes an EMI so revolutionary is that, they can be more agile and therefore more easily adapt to emerging trends, as well as integrate new innovations. This means that, as fintech evolves to meet customer demand, an EMI can evolve with it, where a bank wouldn’t be able to quite so easily.

So why are neobanks so popular? 41% of people who opened a digital-only bank account did so in 2020 because it’s more convenient, 39% because they offer better rates, and 28% because transaction fees abroad are cheaper.

What’s more, neobanks and EMIs have plugged a gap and made complex processes simple and easy. PayPal was the first online international money transfer company to provide a simple solution to complicated and expensive fund transfers that historically only a bank could facilitate.

So, with EMIs able to develop this fintech that customers are demanding without the same red tape as a bank, e-money and digital payment services can slot very easily into other sectors.

As Angela Strange, general partner at a16z, once said, ‘Every company will be a fintech’.

Through e-money and digital banking, businesses can now offer simpler and more convenient products and services to their customers – and it’s not just about simpler payments but the whole customer experience.

Look at transport – the days of handing over loose change for a bus fare or scrambling coins together for a taxi are on the decline. Customers can now get from A to B digitally through pre-paid travel cards, and can even track their transport and split their fare through taxi apps like Uber. E-money isn’t just making the payment simpler but the customer experience too.

E-money has also revolutionised retail and hospitality. Loyalty cards, like Nectar and Clubcard, give customers e-money in return for repeat custom to gain discounts on future purchases. You’ve even got Starbucks and Greggs letting customers order food in advance and skip the queue to collect, meaning that the little pleasures can fit seamlessly into customers’ day-to-day lives. Again, e-money hasn’t just made it easier to pay but has made the whole shopping experience simpler and more flexible.

And it’s not just customer spending that’s been revolutionised but the spending of businesses themselves. Where previously, internal finance teams had to keep hundreds of even thousands of pounds worth of petty cash on site and complete lengthy and complicated expense and approval processes, now departments and individual staff members can have e-money transferred to prepaid cards within minutes, and spend can be tracked through a central, digital system.

The digital revolution is in full swing – with fintech now taking top spot in the UK’s strongest start-ups, businesses are flocking to take full advantage.

So don’t be left behind: contact B4B Payments today to see how we can help you be part of e-money’s digital revolution.

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Overcoming legacy payment processes in universities

Universities can have enormous incomes, with larger universities bringing in millions and, in a couple of the more prestigious ones, billions.

But with universities typically operating as not-for-profits, there’s just as much going out as there is coming in, which means that internal finance teams have a heavy workload.

With so much to keep track of though, we understand that modernising and streamlining some of your processes can be a massive undertaking in itself. But at B4B Payments, we can help.

So how can universities transform their legacy payment processes?

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees can make up 80% of a university’s income but processing these payments can sometimes be old-fashioned. Some universities still request cash, card or cheque payments, meaning that the act of paying tuition fees is not quite as simple as tech savvy students would hope for.

With students paying as much as £9,250 in tuition to universities, it’s understandable that they expect a high quality service, however in 2018 the Higher Education Policy Institute found that over one third of students didn’t feel that their university was value for money.

As a minimum, payment processes should be seamless and require minimum effort. Parting with this amount of money needs to be done transparently and efficiently.

For many students, payments have to be made via Student Finance England and there’s no way around that, but a significant number of students will be paying tuition directly to the university, either in part or in full. This is particularly the case for international students.

One third of international students come to the UK from China, where almost half of the population use mobile payments. Add into that; currency conversion rates, old fashioned methods of payment, such as cash and cheque, and the fact that international fees can be as much as triple the UK fees cap, payments become much more complicated. So it’s important that paying tuition fees takes a step towards digital to make it simpler and more intuitive for the students who are paying.

B4B Payments’ flexible payment solutions allow for the creation of virtual IBAN accounts, giving you the power to receive payments in 25 currencies with great-value FX rates and no hidden fees. With the option to receive international payments via Faster Payments, CHAPS, SEPA, ACH and more, students have a range of reliable, fast options for making their tuition fee payments in their local currencies.

Departmental Spending

With a staff team of thousand and dozens of departments, expenses and departmental spending can be massively complicated. The internal finance team have a huge weight of responsibility on their shoulders to keep the university running smoothly and, with lengthy processes and complex budgets to keep track of, this is no easy feat.

A great way of getting on top of and monitoring departmental spending is by rolling out prepaid cards for staff or departments.

Using these cards, the finance team can immediately respond to financial requests, transfer funds onto cards and keep tabs on what’s been spent in one integrated system. Staff can also upload images of receipts, essentially automating the reporting process and taking a huge burden off internal finance teams.

What’s more, staff can have control over their own budgets. By scheduling transfers onto the cards monthly or even weekly, staff can spend from their budgets with less back and forth. This means they can purchase their own resources and book their own venues without needing to ask finance to do it for them, spreading the admin more evenly across the university – another burden off the finance team.

Not only that, the staff expenses process will run much more smoothly too. By having access to their budgets on a prepaid card, staff can purchase train tickets or lunch expenses straight from the pot. This means that the lengthy process of buying out of their own pockets, filling in an expenses form, scanning receipts, having it processed by the finance team and receiving reimbursement up to a month later will be a thing of the past.

And, for special requests that may fall outside of usual departmental spending, finance can approve and transfer funds to the right person in a matter of minutes.

This streamlines processes significantly and also means there’s much less need for staff across the university to handle cash. Prepaid cards mean that, if staff need petty cash, they can withdraw this and manage it themselves – finance will not necessarily be required to keep large amounts of cash on campus.

Taking it a step further, prepaid cards could also be issued to students for use in campus shops and canteens, which means that even retail on campus can be cashless so there’s no need for totting up money to pay into the bank. Everything is already digitally transferred at the point of contact.  Universities could even work with individual suppliers to incentivise “on campus” spend where appropriate.

Payments to Students

As well as tuition fees and departmental spending, another key benefit of prepaid is the ability to transfer funds to students. This might sometimes take the form of a scholarship or bursary, or it might be the transference of a hardship fund.

Historically, this may have been done via bank transfer or even cheque, but both incur risks – a bank transfer is open to fraud and a cheque can always get lost. But by issuing students with a prepaid card at enrolment, the university can get money to students’ pockets immediately and without the risks incurred by the more old-fashioned methods. Prepaid cards are inclusive for those without bank accounts, provide instant access to funds for foreign students and can used for standalone projects such as research and trials.

From implementing digital systems to allow for straightforward tuition fee payments to rolling out prepaid cards, there’s a whole range of options available to streamline your processes and take some of the burden off your finance team – and we’re here to help.

To find out how we can help you overcome your legacy payments issues, get in touch with B4B Payments today.