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SME Challenges in Cross Border payments

The economic scale of the SME market is substantial, contributing £2.0 trillion (52%) a year to the UK economy alone and growing. But for SMEs wanting to trade internationally, they’re met with highly complex infrastructure and a myriad of lenders, brokers, FIs, processes and systems in place that lack sufficient integration or none at all.

What’s enabling the cross-border payments evolution? 

There is a stream of new products or partnerships being publicised by financial institutions to improve the user experience across both domestic and international payments.

One common theme rings true, the existing system is failing to meet the demands and realities of cross-border payments, especially for SMEs. In a market that continues to grow and now worth over $22 trillion [1], the challenge is to make international payments more accessible to businesses and set a new standard of trading without borders.

What businesses are screaming for is faster access to data, fewer intermediaries, transparent transaction times and most importantly, reasonable fees. 

People expect their user experience with financial transactions to be the same if not better than social networks or other apps they use daily. To add to this complexity, challenger banks, Fintechs and incumbents are all competing for the right to provide their version of these solutions. 

The key ingredients of cash management, FX risk management and trade finance services are demanded by SMEs to not only enable the growth of their businesses but to trade internationally more effectively. This need is still not being met in one, single integrated solution. Furthermore, SMEs are becoming more conscious of poor pricing and service quality, which has driven the demand for an international payments ecosystem. There is also the consideration of managing multiple counter-parties, statements, platforms and spreadsheets. Focusing to reduce the administrative burden here should be a priority for FIs. 

By giving SMEs a one-stop shop, they will be able to focus on growing their business instead of dealing with administrative issues associated with international payments. SMEs struggle to minimize the impact of currency fluctuations and maximise the use of their cash flow. As trading becomes increasingly cross-border, SMEs will be looking for fast and simple solutions to these problems. 

Traditionally, SMEs have turned to their banks who have been unable to offer the same quality of solutions to those available for corporate clients. This is due to the limited amount of resources available for banks to service SMEs cost-effectively.

How do businesses choose from a plethora of providers that enable them to make seamless international payments with no obstacles?

The first step to delivering a seamless cross-border payments service to both businesses and consumers across the global payments ecosystem requires collaboration.

Trading internationally shouldn’t be a pain point at any stage of the process, no matter the size of the company. Collaborating with payment platform technology specialists that have built from scratch a global transaction-based API platform specifically for SMEs removes the complexity that limit many SMEs from making international payments.  Through a single API integration, customers can access the latest technology advancements on multiple payment endpoints, leaving them to focus on delivering enhanced customer propositions to grow their business instead.

Having a full suite of cross-border capabilities required to service clients and supply chains from one platform combining; cash management, FX Risk Management, Trade Finance and foreign exchange hedging will remove many of the barriers while providing all of the vital components for international trading in the underserved SME market.

Financial institutions can embed this capability into their existing customer channels and mobile apps. Once connected, financial institutions will then be able to provide services that traditionally only global organisations and specialist Fintechs could offer to their SME customers.

[1] [2] source:



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Laura Francis

Laura Francis

Head of Brand and Marketing


Member since

14 Mar 2019



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