Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK need to embrace the technology revolution that is currently taking place, according to Seamus Smith, executive vice president of worldwide payments and banking for Sage.
“There is no question that at a macro level we lag compared to other European markets in terms of technology adoption. I think there is a tipping point though, when technology becomes trusted and easier to use, there’s no question that adoption rates will and should improve,” says Smith.
For Smith, perceptions around cost, ease of use, and trust and security are some of the reasons why there may previously have been a resistance to digitisation.
“I think there is also an underlying dynamic – we are serving small and medium enterprises, whose main principle and focus is about running their business. Small and medium businesses are not populated with large accounting or finance departments. You have owner-managers multi-tasking, and it is a question of time,” he says.
This comes after Sage announced a partnership with Modulr, a payments-as-a-service API platform to create the software solution Sage Salary and Supplier Payments powered by Modulr (see infographic; Modulr_Infographic_V4_FinancialDirector).
The solution aims to allow customers to eliminate manual payment processes, which they believe will prevent costly errors and risk of payment data being compromised.
Gap in the market
“There was a gap in the market, and that was a lack of automation. The fact that the end customer or the accountancy firm has to deal with that manual process – which is inefficient and time-consuming – it could lead to data and security issues, and also not being able to reconcile by easily getting back the data from the bank to the accounting platform or the payroll platform,” says Myles Stephenson, CEO of Modulr.
“You can’t tell me that anyone who inputs manually will be 100% accurate 100% of the time,” adds Smith.
“I think that trust and confidence dynamic, along with the ease of use and the demonstrations we can provide, we are confident we can win in the market with this,” he says.
The solution will allow businesses and their accountants to securely manage and process payments from directly within the Sage Accounts and Payroll products.
“What you find in the market is a lot of accountancy firms and also payroll bureaus manage the payment process on behalf of their individual customers,” says Stephenson.
“So, the challenging issues are multiplied across many customers. What we have built allows an accountancy firm to manage it on behalf of multiple customers. So rather than them having that two-fold issue of the manual process per customer, and then having the issue of having to manage bank accounts – especially payments in each bank account for each company – we provide them with an overall service where they can have delegated access from their individual companies, and manage that through one interface,” he says.