Confidence has returned to small business but many remain reluctant to purchase software.
Westpac, MYOB join hands to help SMEs bridge digital gap
Westpac said small business are rebounding from the pandemic with a renewed sense of optimism despite challenges such as staff shortages, fuel costs and supply chain disruptions.
A survey by the bank found 64 per cent of SMEs expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months while almost four out of five feel better prepared to deal with COVID uncertainty.
However a gap remains when it comes to digital uptake with many small businesses failing to employ software even though they think it would help.
To coincide with the survey, Westpac has partnered with MYOB to help bridge the small-business digital gap.
MYOB will add daily updates of Westpac credit card and term deposit transactions to its business software as well as offering a year’s free subscription to customers who sign up for one month.
Westpac’s managing director for cash and transactional banking, Mandy Rutherford, said the research showed three-quarters of SMEs expect their sales to increase in the next 12 months and almost as many, 71 per cent, expect their business to grow.
“As the economy continues to rebound after COVID, consumers are back spending with confidence, and we’re hearing about customers with more savings than ever before and businesses not being able to keep up with demand,” she said.
Digital adoption, a key issue for small business, was helping nine out of 10 that use it expand although “29 per cent of small businesses don’t use any software but believe it could help”.
She said 16 per cent nominated cost as the main barrier to entry and the venture with MYOB would make a difference.
“Equipping small businesses with the tools they need beyond everyday banking will help business owners and operators have better oversight of their financial position, to assist with planning and decision making,” she said.
The integration with MYOB would allow customers to view daily updated activity across their business term deposit, credit card and transactional accounts while the customer subscription offer could save up to $600.
The general manager of SME for MYOB, Emma Fawcett, said the additional features would roll out within a few weeks and would ease cash-flow concerns.
“Bank feeds have connected banks with the MYOB platform for some time, but this partnership with Westpac takes the connectivity to the next level,” she said.
“Customers will now be able to see banking data from their business credit cards and term deposit feeds in their business software, and it will be updated daily.
“Small businesses are feeling cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, but it will be imperative for them to maintain visibility of their business finances so they can make informed decisions and stay on track.”
The Westpac research also found substantial headwinds, with increased living costs nominated by 45 per cent of small businesses as the biggest challenge, followed by inflation (39 per cent) and interest rate rises (31 per cent).
The Westpac results echoed findings from MYOB’s Business Monitor, which also highlighted rising fuel prices as a concern of 41 per cent.
Ms Fawcett said: “The research shows current economic factors are creating a tightrope for Australia’s SMEs. Pressures spanning the cost of doing business through to the availability of critical materials and talent, have the potential to form a thorny compilation of issues for business owners to navigate. All can result in cashflow complexities that are challenging to plan for.”
The next MYOB Business Monitor is due within a few weeks.
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