Nicki Bisgaard has a simple answer; remove the payment pain-points.
“The big issues for SMEs are the same in Scotland, South Korea or South Africa,” says Bisgaard, chief executive of Eedenbull, a card payment specialist with a hub in Edinburgh, roots in Norway and global ambitions.
“SMEs need to know where the money is going. Who is buying what from where, and how do they control that? How can they stop money leaking out of the business by streamlining their processes, improving cash flow and maximising profitability.”
By using top-end technology products like Q Business, Eedenbull prevents money seeping out businesses and streamlines messy money trails.
It works with banks to offer better payment solutions for their SME customers, providing a ‘white label’ service to remove those payment pain-points. Customers see the bank’s own branding, with Eedenbull’s expertise remaining behind the scenes.
Eedenbull already works with 65 banks, mainly in Norway, but has its sights on international growth, especially in the SME market. But why is that market so poorly-served at present?
“We always hear that SMEs are the heartbeat or the backbone of the economy, but they don’t always get the support to reflect that,” says Bisgaard. “SMEs can fall between the stools of consumer banking and commercial banking, which tends to focus on larger corporate clients.
“In general, SMEs do not have the tools they need to handle payments in an efficient way and are less profitable as a result - and there is a real opportunity for banks to do much better.”
To put this right, Eedenbull starts with a frank bank conversation, says Bisgaard: “We ask ‘Where are you at with your payments offering for SMEs? Where do you want to be, what are your aspirations?’
“We make it simple - it’s about efficient processes, policy compliance and control, and improving cash flow. Put that together and it’s a real opportunity to deliver greater profitability.”
Bisgaard says a trusted, professional relationship is at the heart of Eedenbull’s offer: “I’ve been around the payments industry for 30 years and my colleagues and I know a lot of people. We understand payments, they are in our DNA.
“We have a level of trust with the banks and I don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but also a real level of professionalism - so we can deliver a strong competitive advantage.”
Bisgaard says banks can gain quick wins offering this professional payments service to SMEs: “They can provide a unique, innovative new product to SME customers to help them manage their payments. It’s easy to implement and can deliver a competitive advantage quickly.
For SME customers, the benefits are also rapid: “You can immediately see who is spending what and where. You can configure the system so there are certain things they cannot spend on. If they try, the payment won’t be allowed. If it’s something they do need to spend on, it’s simple to do. It’s easy to configure and control, so you know no-one is going haywire.
“You can streamline the processes so people aren’t using their own cards and being reimbursed - making the admin side so much easier. There are immediate, tangible benefits for SMEs.”
Eednebull also provides continuous product development, updating features and functionality fortnightly. “We never stop developing,” says Bisgaard. “We are a true fintech - we understand the fin and the tech - and think about payments in a different way, from a data perspective. We look at the added value of aggregated financial data that comes with payments.
“I don’t like it talking about big data. For me, it’s about relevant data that adds value. We use real-time data; we see the payments being made, where, when and by whom and flag any issues immediately. We work across borders, so if someone was travelling from the UK to Germany, for example, VAT on any spending in Germany is recoverable, and we can flag that and ensure that the recovery is automated.”
As well as product development, Eedenbull offers sales support and a second-line of customer service if a bank’s own staff cannot solve a specific problem - and it’s not just banks and their SME customers who can benefit.
“We can help any organisation - including charities and sports clubs - where multiple people are making payments,” says Bisgaard.
“We spoke to a large charity and they had around 2000 staff and 4000 volunteers, many of whom were spending money on behalf of the organisation at some time, using their own cards or cash. You see the same thing at sports clubs with multiple volunteers across different age groups.
“Everyone is handing in paper receipts and everyone needs to be reimbursed. It’s a time-consuming and costly nightmare - but it is very easy to put it right and we can help.”
Find out more at www.eedenbull.com