Has the UK banking sector abandoned small businesses despite ongoing impact of COVID-19?

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Over two-thirds (66%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have said they felt let down by their banking provider during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

The data, collated by researchers from the Parliament Street Think Tank, indicates that the disconnect between businesses across Europe and financial services organisations has widened since the beginning of the pandemic.

The team of analysts conducted telephone interviews with 250 SMEs across the UK, France, and Germany in August 2021. Industry sectors involved in the research included manufacturing, food and beverage, retail, and professional services.

Interestingly, 55% of SMEs said they are actively considering seeking a new provider as a result of poor services during the pandemic. Additionally, 76% described their banks’ payments processes as ‘expensive and inefficient’.

Over half (56%) of all respondents stated that they think their bank does not prioritise their needs. The research also revealed that 34% are seeking a specialist financial provider to give them access to tier one banking services and offer more financial options.

As the bitcoin trend continues to build traction, 51% would consider investment in cryptocurrency this year, proving that SMEs are starting to consider alternative investment models. Whilst over half (56%) said that they need access to credit or loans in order to grow this year.

A surprising 67% say their bank offers a limited suite of financial services and almost half (42%) say they struggle to access professional consultancy about their business needs.

Justinas Basalykas, CEO of banking services provider SH Payments says: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the global economy, and its shocking that so many feel disappointed in the support offered to them by banks over the last year. As businesses begin to rebuild and reboot with even more digital approach and international interaction, getting access to capital and cross-border payments services is critical for expansion and job creation. Key to this effort is not only giving them access to agile financial services such as e-wallets, apps supported payments and other cutting-edge technologies, but also by connecting them with well-established world-leading banking and financial services which otherwise wouldn’t be available to them, enabling smooth and effective payments processes.”

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