Inefficient payment systems slowing growth of SMEs

Cross-border payment systems provide poor foreign exchange rates. [iStock]

Poor service provision by payment platforms remains a serious threat to small business success in Kenya and across the globe, a new Mastercard survey has established.

The Borderless Payments Report says the trend is bigger in digital cross-border payments, where about 45 per cent of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 42 per cent of consumers fear they might become victims of fraud.

This was the feeling among 7,586 consumers in the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, Singapore, India, US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Brazil, Colombia and Chile and another 3,074 representatives of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in each of these markets.

Payment service providers have also been blamed for poor pricing, where about 40 per cent of consumers and 45 per cent of businesses say cross-border payment systems provide poor foreign exchange rates, high transfer fees, or both.

“About one-third say digital platforms are not transparent enough about how much transfers will cost and how much money will be received,” the report says.

According to the survey, one in three consumers say cross-border payment platforms have limited options for delivering funds by the recipient’s preferred method.

Payment service providers have also been blamed for poor pricing. [iStock]

This is despite majority of businesses saying sending digital cross-border payments would improve the efficiency of any business (79 per cent), help the business grow (72 per cent), improve the business’ cash flow (69 per cent) and allow business to survive (69 per cent).

Almost 40 per cent of businesses say they do not always get a receipt when they send online payments. About 30 per cent say they cannot track their transfer status or estimated arrival.

The survey found that three-quarters of consumers who send cross-border payments say they would be more inclined to use online platforms if they were faster. 

Mastercard Executive Vice President Stephen Grainger said seamless international payment services are crucial in keeping families and businesses financially connected as well as keeping the global economy moving.

“Of all consumers surveyed who sent a cross-border payment last year, around 40 per cent said their family members would not have survived financially without the funds,” he said.

“About 70 per cent of SMEs surveyed say the global payment network helped them endure the pandemic.”