Currencycloud: UK SME growth plans blocked by underserved global payment services

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

Multi-currency company Currencycloud has revealed that international payment opportunities are blocking UK Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for global growth. 

According to recent research conducted by Currencycloud, 28% of the 500 UK SMEs surveyed who are not already exporting overseas have plans to do so in the future, but raised concerns around international payments which are preventing them. 

Many businesses surveyed find starting to trade internationally daunting, citing worries of finding overseas customers (31%) and concerns about tariffs and other charges (29%) when explaining why they hadn’t yet exported. 

However, over a third (34%) of businesses currently not exporting said that they choose not to do so due to worries about the complexity of making and receiving international payments. This made payments the third most commonly cited answer.

Within this group, over half (51%) say that they are concerned about being exposed to currency fluctuations and foreign exchange risk. Additionally, 49% of businesses are concerned about payments security, with 45% worried about the speed of payments. 

Interestingly, of the 51% of SMEs surveyed who are already exporting, whilst a third (33%) still find international payments a challenge, they are less of a problem than dealing with tariffs (45%) or customs and red tape (43%). This suggests that businesses that are not yet exporting are underestimating the challenges that navigating customs and tariffs can bring. 

Head of Product at Currencycloud, Piers Marais, commented on the findings: “These figures show that international payments are a key concern for businesses looking to export overseas. However, it’s also clear that there’s a growing appetite to export and that banks are in a key position to support SMEs. 

“So, we need to move away from the standard ‘banks vs fintechs’ rhetoric and focus more on how the industry can collaborate. It’s also clear that if the Government wants to boost Britain’s global business ambitions, it needs to take concerns around red tape, customs, and tariffs seriously.”

With 49% of SMEs not yet exporting, there’s potentially considerable revenue to be unlocked for providers who can alleviate their concerns and help them overcome perceived payments barriers, and high street banks may be in a prime position to do exactly this. 

Almost half (46%) of SMEs already exporting surveyed use their high street bank or building society to send and receive payments, and over a third (34%) of all respondents have tried to access support with exporting from their banks. This was second only to the government/Department for Business & Trade.