“Another concept has recently been added to life’s great certainties: uncertainty itself.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned business on its head; previously stable startups have had their investments frozen, while titans of industry have seen their shares tumble and production halted.
Companies have had to drastically change their business models to keep pace with governmental guidelines, a feat which has been better managed by some than others. The impact of the pandemic has had a remarkable effect on all strata’s of business, whether that be the high-turnover corporate giants or the day-to-day services which make up people’s weekly shopping routines.
What has become apparent is that those companies willing to adapt to this new reality are the ones who are surviving. The social distancing guidelines issued by the majority of affected countries across the world all have the same common message – “avoid all contact”..
As much as this applies in a social context, it is the same for small businesses too; and financial transactions have become completely, well, contactless.
With the World Health Organisation advising people to avoid using cash to limit possible infection, small businesses around the UK, particularly those in the service industry, have had to move with the times.
“We’ve seen incredible stories from small businesses taking the classic British approach of ‘making the best of things’ when faced with this predicament. Formerly sit-down restaurants have created and launched takeaway and delivery-only menus, grocery stores are staying open later and organising exclusive shopping hours for essential workers and the elderly, and personal trainers are launching exercise classes over video links as their usual places of work are under lockdown – all this shows that businesses are adapting.”
“We even have a pizzeria in Shropshire who are using a SumUp reader strapped to their pizza peel to take payments in order to comply with social distancing and protect their staff.”
“Our move towards an economy less reliant on physical money means incorporating online aspects to your business – a necessity for many at the moment but an important factor going forward- it could in fact turn out to be many company’s saving grace.”
It’s a challenging, but productive, time for product teams too.
“We recently launched free mobile payments, invoicing services and a mobile store to allow remote and online payments, and we’re soon rolling out more solutions for businesses dealing with this new normal.”
These new payment methods remove the need for direct contact but crucially ensure merchants keep money coming in. Others in the fintech world are doing their bit too; crowdfunding platform UpEffect are waiving their fees for campaigns launched via their service which are addressing effects of the pandemic, gig-economy insurance platform Zego, are offering two weeks free insurance for delivery drivers who are having to to self-isolate, and challenger bank Starling have launched a second debit card that can be given to those shopping on your behalf, if you are self-isolating. It’s innovations like these which have really highlighted the fintech industry’s value.
In such unforeseen circumstances, it’s hard for companies to know how to react; there are no signposts on an untrodden path. However, the move to digitalisation could be a move in the right direction for many.
If companies do survive this period, then there is every indication that they will thrive for the foreseeable future. If they can get through this, they won’t face many tougher tests.
Guest post by Or Perlman, UK Country Lead at SumUp
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