Serrala Announces New Features for Payments as Part of its Managed Services Portfolio

Serrala, the international leading provider of solutions for inbound and outbound payments and related finance processes, today announced innovative extensions of its Managed Services Portfolio. Besides the existing managed services for cash application, Serrala now also offers services that allow organizations to outsource complex payment functions so they can react faster to corporate or industry challenges and changes. Ongoing changes in the banking relationships, emerging payment methods and standards, and continuously evolving regulatory requirements are just a few examples of the dynamic pace of the payments industry. Serrala’s Managed Services enable customers to accelerate payments innovation while providing peace of mind. With the strong growth of cloud solutions and services, Serrala’s Managed Services portfolio combines the benefits of the cloud with the ability to outsource a complex process to an expert provider.

“Outsourcing the operational tasks and functions around inbound and outbound payments frees up time for business-wide, value-added activities,” said Mickey Vonckx, VP Managed Services of Serrala. “Serrala’s Managed Services offering provides modular services addressing treasury’s pain-points within the entire accounts payable, accounts receivable, treasury, data analytics and document management functions helping organizations to improve operations and cut costs.”

“Market forces are driving the need for increased agility of organizations to manage their payments and related finance processes in a global market. Building on our extensive experience in providing powerful global financial software solutions, managed services is a strategic initiative for Serrala to extend and enhance the support options for our clients. With our managed services offering we empower clients to respond quickly to changing demands and to benefit from the deep knowledge of Serrala.” said Sven Lindemann, CEO of Serrala.

Serrala’s Managed Services Portfolio is continuously enhanced and provides specialized functionality including:

  • Conversion – transforming data or documents into required target formats
  • Connectivity – to banks, services, storage areas, enterprise systems
  • Optimization – rationalizing information and validates it against master data; improved with AI
  • Matching – using intelligent robotic automation to auto-post invoices, auto-match receivables and payments, remittance advice information etc.
  • Fraud & Compliance – preventing fraud, ensuring data privacy
  • Archiving – regular archiving and purging data according to best practices
  • Analytics – detailed reports and analytics that ensure compliance and provide global transparency

Atradius Barometer Reveals Payment Practices of Eastern European Businesses

Less businesses in Eastern Europe are offering credit to customers, a report by trade credit insurer Atradius has found.

The 2018 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for Eastern Europe, reports that the proportion of B2B credit sales in Eastern Europe has decreased from an average of 40.3% in 2017 to 36.9% this year. Businesses in Hungary remain the most inclined to offer credit terms with an average of 57.6% of B2B sales made on credit, although here too, credit sales are at a lower level than a year ago. In contrast, businesses in Romania seem to be the least willing to offer credit terms with an average of just 17.7% of B2B sales transacted on credit.

The strongest reasons for offering credit to overseas customers are described by Eastern European companies as building trust and relationships and attracting new customers. When it came to refusing credit sales, 24.1% cited high currency risk and 19.0% because there was high economic and/or political risk in the customer’s country.

The Eastern Europe Payment Practices Barometer, which surveys suppliers across Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey, is one of a suite of reports and publications by Atradius designed to give businesses trading insights into the markets or sectors relevant to their business. Positively, businesses in Eastern Europe reported a slight fall in frequent payment delays, down 3% to 81% in 2018 compared to 2017. However, such delays did impact on businesses with 18% reporting the need to postpone payments to suppliers while 14% experienced revenue loss. Just under 1% of B2B debt was reported to be uncollectable. Meanwhile, a quarter of businesses in Eastern Europe expect an increase in Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) over the coming 12 months.

Payment delays due to insufficient availability of funds by domestic B2B customers in Eastern Europe increased markedly with 68.8% of respondents identifying the issue, an increase of over 10% from the previous year. Nearly a third (31%) of respondents reported that domestic B2B customers pay invoices late because they use outstanding invoices as a form of financing. Moreover, domestic B2B receivables were reported to be uncollectable most often due to the customer being bankrupt or out of business (64.2% of respondents, up from 55.8% last year). However, many Eastern European respondents invoicing electronically, have noticed an improvement in speed of payment. Two thirds (66%) of respondents invoiced their B2B customers online over the past year.

The report predicts an increase in trade credit risk in Eastern Europe as GDP growth eases. While Eastern Europe is forecast to grow a steady 3% this year, mainly due to robust domestic demand, strong momentum is forecast to ease to 2.5% in 2019, as regional GDP growth eases and the export trade stimulus from the Eurozone cools off. This, along with a longer DSO, is forecast to weigh on liquidity, potentially triggering an increase in trade credit risk.

Andreas Tesch, Chief Market Officer of Atradius, commented: “Globally, 2018 promises to be another year of strong growth, with global GDP growth pushing up to 3.2%, the highest level since 2011. However, the chances of long-term economic growth are deteriorating for the export-oriented economies of Eastern Europe, which are closely ingrained in European supply chains. A slowdown of the global economy may expose some structural issues, peculiar to Eastern European economies, weighing on their growth. This could trigger an increase in trade credit risk. Against this backdrop, it is essential to pay close attention to the payment behaviour of buyers and limit payment default risks through credit insurance protection. This can enable businesses trading with Eastern Europe to expand growth opportunities, improve cash flow and protect profitability.”

Centtrip adds offline mode feature in latest app edition

Centtrip, a fintech company specialising in international payments, foreign exchange and expenditure, has released an offline feature for its award-winning app. The new mode allows users to view some key information such as their card and account transactions wherever they are in the world, and whether or not they have internet access.

The offline mode stores information from when users last accessed the app and loads recent transaction details quickly, whether they are commuting underground, are in flight mode or in area with poor signal, ensuring they have the most straightforward user experience possible and can keep track of their spending continuously.

The development enables clients to have absolute control of transactions and spending. It also allows for more efficient financial management without being restricted by the lack of internet connection.

Jim Warner, Director of Operations at Centtrip, said: “We recognise how frustrating it is for both corporate and private clients to have to rely on Wi-Fi connection or mobile data for continuous access to their accounts. The majority of our clients are constantly on the move and may not always have time to wait until they are next online to complete reconciliation or run straightforward treasury operations. Any delay can be critical in business, so having instant access is crucial. With our offline mode, our clients will have the seamless and efficient experience they are after.”

Understaffing causes stress, but managers can help

LEADERS and managers whose teams are under resourced could help prevent staff burnout by behaving better, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Salford in the UK and the University of Waterloo, Canada, have just published a paper in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, which examined the impact of understaffing on a group of workers.

The paper found that teams who were understaffed but had a manager who took that into account suffered from less burnout than teams which were understaffed but whose manager showed less consideration.

Professor Kirk Chang, an expert in human resources of the University of Salford Business School described his research and why it is so important.

Professor Chang said: “There is evidence that understaffing is becoming more of a problem all the time but it hasn’t been studied to a great degree before now, particularly the impact understaffing has on groups of workers. We do know that understaffing causes great stress, burnout and health problems for workers if their workplace is understaffed.

“So we thought we would take a closer look.”

The team asked nearly 800 employees, and their bosses, from 96 work groups employed by four technology organisations, about their experiences and feelings. They split the understaffing problem into two categories, one where there are not enough people and the other where there is not enough expertise to get a job done. Both can cause stress in the workplace.

Nearly 80% of the surveyed work groups claimed they felt stressed by understaffing levels and that felt this was impacting on their work performance.

Professor Chang said: “There are some very important lessons to be learned from our study.

“We found that when there was an issue with managers and the way they reacted when faced with understaffing. They would react in a more emotional, empathetic way when their teams lacked technical expertise.

“But when they simply lacked the numbers of staff to get a job done they reacted differently, with less empathy, and this resulted in more stressful situations for their employees, potentially leading to lower productivity and other issues associated with a stressful work environment such as increased burnout.

“Ultimately the company will suffer in the long run, as staff go on sick or leave the company, potentially making understaffing even worse.

“Although understaffing causes stress and recently has become a norm in the workplace, managers can still help. Our findings suggest managers should show more empathy in all situation were their teams are not appropriately resourced. ”

Together revamps its commercial short-term loans

Together has refreshed its unregulated short-term loan range by removing fees and lowering rates to help more people looking to buy investment properties.

The award-winning specialist lender, which was founded 44 years ago, has removed exit fees for unregulated bridging loans over £50,000, while making its lowest ever rate of 0.49% available over 12 months at 50% loan-to-value (LTV)

It has also cut the cost of borrowing across its new tiered pricing structure with rates beginning at 0.59% for short-term loans at 55% LTV, 0.64% at 60%, 0.74% at 70% and 0.84% at 75%.

The updated products will be made available to residential property investors and landlords in England, Wales and Scotland, with loans of up to £2million.

Marc Goldberg, commercial CEO at Together, said: “We are rightly recognised as a market leader in the bridging finance sector, and have won many industry awards because of our experience and knowledge of the market.

“In the past few years a number of new lenders have started operating in the bridging sector and, while we welcome this competition, we want to ensure we keep at the forefront of this very competitive market by providing some of the best short-term products available for residential purchases.

“We believe our latest product refresh will mean we will lead us helping even more customers to get the best outcomes from their property investments.”

The refreshed range is available to customers who come direct to Together and selected distributors.

Meanwhile, investors purchasing at auction can get a free Decision in Principle (DIP) so they will be able to find out exactly what they can afford to borrow, with a quote online over the phone or in the auction room before they bid.

Mr Goldberg said: “We’re excited to be able to offer this new service direct to customers and through our auction partners to support landlords and investors.

“It’s free and takes less than five minutes to complete, without affecting a customer’s credit profile. If we can provide the finance they need, we will inform the customer straight away, with a summary of the loan online, to give them the confidence that short-term funding is in place for them to snap up their chosen property.”

Euler Hermes: Global trade growth may fall 50 per cent if US and China fail to resolve tariff issues

Global trade growth could halve by 2020 should the US and China fail to agree a deal to halt the increase in import tariffs, according to leading trade credit insurer Euler Hermes.

The US has implemented a 10 per cent tariff on $200bn of Chinese imports. China has retaliated with tariffs on $60bn of goods starting later this month.

US tariffs on Chinese goods could increase to 25 per cent should the two countries fail to agree a deal before 2019. Euler Hermes predicts that global trade growth could decelerate from roughly 4 per cent y/y to 2 per cent y/y by 2020 in this ‘trade feud’ scenario.

The average US import tariff now stands at 5.2 per cent, the highest level since the 1980s and compares to an average of 3.5 per cent before the latest tariffs were imposed.

Ludovic Subran, Chief Economist at Euler Hermes, said: “While the phrase ‘trade war’ has been used, we see the current situation as more of a ‘trade feud’.

“In our view a ‘trade war’ scenario would involve tariffs on $500bn worth of Chinese goods. This, in turn would lead to a six percentage point cut in global trade and 1.5 percentage cut in global GDP growth. However, we only see a five per cent chance of this situation coming about, given how detrimental its impact will be on the global economy.

“Encouragingly, global trade is actually doing well after rising by around five per cent last year. For the moment, it is outweighing the dampening effects of new protectionism measures by the world’s largest economies. But we may see an increase in payment risk across the globe if further tariff increases are imposed.”

Labour’s plan to ban credit card betting stands to save consumers £545 million on fees and interest

Commenting on Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson’s call for a ban on using credit cards to gamble, Alastair Douglas, CEO of Free Credit Report provider and credit experts TotallyMoney, said: “A blanket ban on the use of credit cards would be a massive win for consumers.

“For regular purchases, people usually get an interest-free grace period, which doesn’t apply when credit is used to gamble. The trouble is that most people aren’t aware of how much gambling with credit truly costs them — that is, not until their bill arrives. A TotallyMoney survey of 1,000 people revealed that only 1 in 10 people are aware that gambling with credit is treated as a cash advance, which means higher-than-average interest rates apply.

“What’s more, a recent report by the Gambling Commission says up to £8.6 billion of gambling deposits are made using credit cards. Assuming an average cash transaction fee of 3.23% and an average cash advance interest rate of 28.13%, we calculated that consumers stand to save £545 million each year on fees and interest.

“That’s why TotallyMoney is more than happy to welcome a blanket ban on gambling with credit — not only because it would save people a lot of money, but also because it would solve the problem of people spending more than they can afford by gambling with credit.”

Preparation is crucial when taking a construction dispute to court, a new legal ruling has underlined.

Construction consultancy MPG says the High Court decision should also serve as a reminder to contractors that they need effective programmes in place before commencing a contract in case there is a dispute in future.

The claimants in Clutterbuck and another v Cleghan lost because they failed to call an important witness, and the court refused to allow them to plug gaps in expert evidence at the last minute.

Michael Gallucci, managing director of MPG, said: “This is a wake-up call for anyone contemplating legal action, and their litigation team, that you must be fully prepared before you walk up the steps of the court building.”

Mr Gallucci, who advises leading construction companies and speaks internationally on contract law, said contractors must also prepare to protect themselves in the event of a dispute before even beginning work on a project. “Programmes are absolutely vital when claiming for delays or combating counter-claims,” he said. “They become yardsticks against which to measure the effects of delays, which are a frequent cause of disputes.”

An RICS accredited mediator, Mr Gallucci said too many property and construction disputes end up in court. “Instead of rushing headlong into what should be the last resort, the parties in a dispute should seek to resolve their problems through mediation, which is quicker and less expensive,” he said. “The Clutterbuck trial lasted 11 days in the High Court, no doubt racking up a big legal bill for the claimants who in the end walked away empty-handed. There is no way of knowing if they would have had a better outcome if they had settled by mediation, but in most cases, it is a better and less painful way to reach a conclusion.”

He added: “Settling out of court with the help of a qualified mediator can even mean that the parties don’t fall out irrevocably and can work together again. That’s rarely the case after an acrimonious court battle.”

Graydon signs partnership to unlock the (Tru)narrative behind the onboarding process

Graydon, leading provider of business data, insights and analytics in Europe, today announced a strategic technology partnership with global financial crime experts, TruNarrative. The partnership will provide a comprehensive onboarding tool for the UK’s business community. Graydon Onboarding is the UK’s first commercial onboarding solution combining credit decisioning, fraud detection and compliance screening.

With fraud on the rise (estimated to have cost UK businesses £125bn in 2017), and the methods becoming more and more sophisticated, combined with increasing levels of regulation in many industries, more responsibility falls on Credit and Risk teams to not only assess credit risk, but also to identify fraudulent applications and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

Underpinned by the expertise of TruNarrative’s data science and technology team, combined with the predictive capabilities of Graydon’s data, Graydon Onboarding enables organisations to identify potential fraud, reduce credit risk and ensure compliance throughout the customer onboarding process, resulting in significant time savings and adherence to credit, regulatory and fraud policies.

The platform also allows for the integration of third-party data sources, meaning users can supplement Graydon insights with complementary data sets from any supplier, allowing customers maximum flexibility whilst optimising onboarding processes, and consolidating numerous data sources.

The partnership operates on a reciprocal basis and sees TruNarrative integrating Graydon’s extensive international business database used in trade credit, supplier management and corporate risk identification, this further strengthens the TruNarrative platform and its ‘App Store’, a gateway to 40+ integrated third-party data services for the prevention of financial crime and provides insights on more than 160 countries.

John Lord, CEO at TruNarrative, said: “TruNarrative is proud to facilitate Graydon in providing its customers an agile approach to onboarding and managing risk and improving the sharing of fraud insights. The key part of our model is to make safe commerce simpler; the Graydon datasets and commitment to onboarding smoothly, without friction and minimising risk & fraud prevention make them an ideal partner in this space. We look forward to working with their customers and to bringing Graydon data to ours.”

Simon Blackwell, Managing Director at Graydon said: “Today’s credit and risk professional is under increasing pressure to not only perform a credit risk assessment but also identify potential frauds and ensure compliance with ever-growing regulation when onboarding new customers. With these increasing demands, they need to make their existing team more effective and efficient and embrace innovative tools and technology. Combining Graydon and TruNarrative’s deep domain knowledge in fraud prevention, accurate data and technology alongside 130 years of helping credit and risk professionals make fast, profitable decisions, I am confident that Graydon Onboarding will become the go-to platform for customer acceptance and onboarding.”

Mike Harriss, Head of Channel at TruNarrative said: “The TruNarrative partnership with Graydon is a perfect example of our channel strategy in action. We are offering the latest and best technology in financial crime management and providing a platform for our partner to extend their range of value add services for a mature client-base. At the same time, we are enhancing our own proposition with data and insights from an industry leader”.

New joiners build on success of leading debt recovery team

A series of new appointments have been made within the industry-leading Taunton-based debt recovery team at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP.

The team is ranked in the Top Tier of Legal 500 and has recovered over £200 million for clients in the last ten years.

“Following a number of promotions earlier this year the team continues to go from strength to strength,” said Phil Roberts who jointly leads the debt recovery team together with Kat Quinton.

“The new joiners reflect the growth in business from both new and existing clients and will help Clarke Wilmott to maintain its position at the forefront of the debt recovery industry.”

Joe Hampson, Darren Brooks, and Lisa Cornelius start new positions as caseworkers and Shannon Robinson joins the IT support team.

“The new appointees will help to manage the team’s increasing workload for a variety of clients including regional and national commercial businesses, government departments, insurance companies and managing agents,” added Phil.

“Debt recovery is one of Clarke Willmott’s largest teams and plays an important role in the overall success of the company.”