While mobile financial services have leaped forward for personal customers, banks haven’t been so quick to evolve their SME products. This has created an opportunity for fintechs, and now a growing number of start-ups are targeting small businesses. Few yet offer anything close to the breadth of services that big banks can, but a laser focus on performing a single function well, and meeting the specific needs of SMEs, has seen many rewarded with rapidly growing user bases.
From start-ups to established businesses, we’ve rounded up eight of the most innovative and most interesting SME-focused fintechs:
Describing their offering as ‘intelligent cashflow’, Fluidly helps businesses to plan, optimise and manage their cashflow. They offer credit control services, automated forecasting and a bird’s eye view of present and future client income. Their technology promises some clever uses of AI and financial modelling to provide small businesses with sophisticated fiscal planning.
Most traditional banks don’t personalise their services towards sole traders, instead offering one-size-fits-all products for SMEs. Coconut is a neo-bank that aims to buck the trend when it launches later this year, providing current accounts for freelancers and the self-employed only. They will calculate taxes (with real-time previews of tax assessments), track expenses and focus on helping customers ensure that they’re paid on time. Instant notifications on transactions are included, too.
Ebury helps SMEs that are operating abroad with international payments, risk management strategies and flexible import lending facilities. They focus on allowing small business to receive the kind of bespoke financing solutions that are usually reserved for much larger organisations. They’re one of the bigger names on this list, having worked with over 24,000 businesses and organizations and traded £12.5 billion in foreign exchange. Big numbers, but not quite ‘big bank’ numbers – yet.
InvoiceSharing offers free digital invoicing services to SMEs, financed through collaborations with fellow tech businesses and banks. The collaborations have produced some useful products for SMEs – last year, InvoiceSharing worked with ABN AMRO to launch a “touchfree” accounting platform for SMEs, which they claim helps the average firm to process 10 to 20 times more invoices each year, while reducing costs.
Autobooks is a cloud-based integrated payment and accounting service for SMEs. It integrates directly with business bank accounts for maximum convenience. It allows business to receive payments from customers via credit card or bank transfer, to pay their bills online, and aims to be an all-in-one provider that alleviates the need for businesses to pay for and manage separate services payment/invoicing services.
Season ticket loans can be a major expense for small businesses. The mostly consumer-focused CommuterClub has a B2B offering which aims to help them defray the impact on cashflow. It helps small businesses manage employee season tickets digitally – but more importantly, to directly integrate payments with payroll, and also take out business loans via CommuterClub to assist with the cost.
Perhaps the best established on this list, Xero are a worthy mention for their dominating presence. Operating as a cloud-based service, they’re focused on helping SMEs keep track of their invoices, expenses, payments and more with a slick interface that’s consistent across desktop and smartphones.
Mobile-first banking service Tide is app-based, and provides invoicing, accounting and expenses services, from categorised transactions to CHAPS and faster payments. Instant invoicing, automatic bookkeeping and instant loans are the incentives for smaller businesses here, their stated aim is to keep SME banking as simple and low-cost as possible.
The SME sector is economically significant, making up 99% of firms in the EU. Banks need to act now to insure that their product offerings meet the needs of SMEs – before the fintechs do it for them.