UK SMEs pick banks as preferred payment service providers

UK SMEs pick banks as preferred payment service providers

Small British businesses retain strong trust in banks and building societies as payment providers but are still looking for more, according to a survey from Visa Europe.

Of 750 small firms quizzed, 59% confirm that they trust their business bank or building society to be their payment provider. And while rivals are emerging, trust in these institutions remains much lower: 40% for alternative online payment providers, 11% for telcos, and just six per cent for social media outlets.

Trust in banks is most strongly held by sole traders, 65% of whom have a fully trusting relationship with their bank or building society. Likewise, longstanding businesses have a higher level of trust - 65% of businesses trading for more than 20 years identified their bank as a trusted provider.

However, many small businesses aren’t fully satisfied with the payment options available to them. For example, only 30% of owners are ‘completely satisfied’ with the range of options available. Satisfaction levels decrease as company turnover rises, suggesting as businesses grow they are looking for more options to offer customers.

There are also differences between the comfort level of businesses paying in new and different ways, versus accepting these payment methods themselves. Sole traders for example, have embraced making online payments - well over half use online banking to make payments and a third make payments via debit card online. Yet only nine per cent of this group accept online card payments to their own business from customers.

This frustration at lack of payment options, and gap between payment behaviour and acceptance, doesn’t appear to be a case of traditional providers failing to innovate though. Banks were listed more often than alternatives, such as internet providers, as the “preferred partner” for transaction services.

Kevin Jenkins, MD, Visa UK, says: "If small businesses feel frustrated or unable to utilise the best payment or banking offering for them and their customers, then they can’t enjoy the benefits these bring. Given the top three barriers to change are cited as perceived cost, risk, and other priorities being focused on, that suggests we need to start with making these products as accessible and useful for this audience as possible."

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