What are the challenges SMEs face making B2B payments?


In recent years, the B2C payments landscape has evolved tremendously — now, in 2023, companies in the B2B payments space are taking strides to match their B2C counterparts in speed and efficiency. 

As global economic headwinds continue to drive risk appetites lower among traditional banking providers, the opportunities for small-to-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to expand their operations into new markets become increasingly complicated, especially in terms of international payments. 

The recent changes in the nature of the risk appetite can be attributed to a variety of concerns, with one of the most prominent being the question of SME profitability. SMEs are too small to be able to take on the full suite of traditional international payment and cash management offerings by big banks as it comprises of banking, treasury, liquidity, lending, FX, asset management etc. as a bundle vs standalone payment services. SMEs thus cannot afford it or are not at the maturity level needed to adopt a full suite of service, which makes them less profitable for these banks. 

Yet, despite hesitance among traditional financial institutions to support SMEs in their cross-border expansion endeavours, SMEs have proven to be invaluable to the UK and European economies. 

In 2022, UK-based SMEs accounted for more than 99% of the business population within the nation, making these SMEs a huge source of revenue and employment, according to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 

When you consider this alongside the ongoing UK cost-of-living crisis, as well as geopolitical conflicts across Europe, the ability of SMEs in these regions to expand into new markets is crucial for not only boosting revenue, but also opening new business opportunities that help better support the economy. 

For SMEs working in the B2B space, the success of their expansion into new markets hinges on their ability to access the necessary B2B international payment services. Though traditional banking providers may be reluctant to support SMEs in such endeavours, digital innovation, and the rise of Fintechs have cleared new pathways toward international growth and success. 

To simplify this complex topic for corporates, we attempt to tackle this process in B2B international payments and seek the answers for SMEs: 

  • What are the main challenges corporates face today in payments?
  • How do international payments work today & what are the hurdles?
  • Do you need a business bank account to make international payments?
  • How long do international business payments take to process?
  • What’s the true cost of making an international B2B payment in 2023?

We’re on hand to help SMEs find out the answers. For each of these key questions, we have gathered the relevant research — as well as several key insights from the recent Fintech Connect 2022 conference — to help shed light on how UK and European SMEs can expand into new markets abroad and confront the many challenges found along the way. 

After answering these questions in detail, we then take a deep dive into the role Fintechs and multilateral platforms undoubtedly have to play in the future of B2B payments, find it all out in our latest eBook.