Let’s take a look at the market statistics for MSMEs. Over 41m MSMEs responsible for over 84% of the labour force and contribute over 50% to GDP – this is a sector that you want to be deliberate about its growth and how the players achieve scale. The published statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics between 2013 and 2017 reflects an overall growth of 5m new businesses from 37m to over 41.7m However, the market recorded a decline of about 60% in the number of medium-sized enterprises from 4,670 to 1,793.
What does this tell you? The opportunity for small businesses to scale is limited.
The lockdown experienced in 2020 as a result of the pandemic worsened the market situation resulting from less in-person interactions, less in-person payment options, lesser need for brick and mortar store businesses.
The statistics we have from a survey carried out by Fate Foundation on areas impacted by lockdown shows the top 3 to be 1. Cashflow, about 72% of businesses ‘survey say that their business cashflow was severely impacted – and as they say – cash is king, the second area is sales and the third area is revenue – these are the critical elements banks look at to assess and qualify business owners for loans. This development has made more apparent the lack of infrastructure and access to digital resources for small businesses. It is also showing that technology is not necessarily a level playing field for market players.
For technology to be considered a level playing field for small businesses to achieve scale, there are fundamental factors that need to be addressed. We will look at 5 questions that will address this issue.
- What infrastructure and digital resources are available to MSME to participate strongly in the market and achieve scale?
- How can small businesses access these digital resources?
- What skill sets business owners have to optimize the use of digital resources?
- What about trust issues?
Addressing each one of them :
1. What infrastructure and digital resources are available to achieve scale?
Payment acceptance services are a critical element. In the context of keeping safe, more businesses are using Whatapp, Instagram, Telegram, Facebook to sell and those who can afford it are building their own website to transit their business online. However, they still receive payments by transfer through DMs. No doubt DMs have been helpful but as your business sales increase, how many customers could you attend to in a day without exhaustion as a small business owner! In fact, some DMs never get responded to until days after!
If technology were a leveler and available for all, a critical digital resource that is needed is payment acceptance service for merchants to receive payments and provide better buying experience to individual buyers. This is especially necessary to manage stock out which is a recurring reason to return to the vendor’s page after, through DM, the vendor will modem you that the item of your choice is no longer available. Additionally, at the end of the day’s sales, the merchant still needs to reconcile accounts and track sales performance for the day!
Ladies and gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to announce SWIFTPAY… by Access Bank. A payment acceptance service that we have introduced to support the transition and growth of our business customers.
SWIFTPAY is just a payment link that when hosted on your social media page, you can send to anyone to pay you. It is easy – less than 5 minutes to sign up, convenient, straight through and time savings for everyone. It takes less than 5 minutes to sign up.
At Access Bank, we are committed to providing very practical solutions that support the growth of our customers. We know that stronger participation in markets helps strengthen contribution to economic development.
I also want to mention that we recently introduced visa business debit cards to our customers and we are the first to do in the industry in partnership with Visa. The business debit card comes with higher withdrawal/spend limit limits for customers, it gives you discounts to courier services, you know logistics is a critical element for online business and it also comes bundled with access to google business advisory services for you to learn how to manage your online storefront .
We are just all about helping our customers better optimize business solutions.
We also have partnerships that help customers create online stores for as low as N25k.
You can see that our customers have access to the entire ecosystem that helps you sell beyond the proximity of your store.
2. How do customers access these resources?
Very easy! Just open a business account with Access Bank and you are automatically registered to use SWIFTPAY very swiftly. Activate and put the link on your social media page, send to anyone who wants to pay you and watch your sales grow. This is beyond account opening, beyond just lending and it is a commitment to providing value.
3. What about the skill sets required to navigate and manage a business online?
Let me share a story of my encounter with a business owner recently.
I had to go to the mainland to purchase an item and because it was a bad traffic day and I spent about 3 hours in traffic to get there. When I got to the store, I went straight to the store owner and I asked her “madam, please why are you not online? “ I don’t see myself coming back here again after what I just went through to get here “ and she started talking about how it’s been frustrating for her to manage a store online and she had to stop altogether!
What is lacking here is just the lack of knowledge of how to manage a storefront online and she was missing out on online sales for this reason.
What we have done is to partner with google business advisory to help us train our customers on the nuances of online business. They will also be exposed to online tools to optimize business. Our small businesses also have the opportunity of enjoying google ads to advertise online. Honestly, small businesses have never had it this good and I am excited we help making access to digital resources easy.
4. There are digital resources out there in the market, so what about trust issues?
With the rise in the popularity of social media as e-commerce comes the increased risk of fraud. Business Identity fraud is on the rise with the use of logos and false pages to appear genuine and defraud unsuspecting potential buyers of funds. With Swiftpay, merchants do not have to worry about this because every merchant registered on Swiftpay will carry a ‘verified by access ‘ stamp to authenticate the page.
So if you don’t see ‘Verified by Access’ on the merchant page or online store, please be careful.
5. Affordability- Swiftpay is free.
The processing charge is discounted up to 15% to ensure you keep most of your earnings unlike other services if you sign up to our visa business debit cards.
Business owners should worry less about financials and focus on frothier business with Swiftpay …sign up today.
How is Swiftpay different from other payment acceptance services – we are a bank, your account is already domiciled with us, you don’t have to go through any additional KYC checks, your business is verified, we will use your financial records to lend you money.
Swiftpay is part of a new campaign we have launched – ‘ Your Business Matters‘…a campaign to let our business customers know their business matters to us and we will continually work with them to support their growth.’