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June 16, 2020

The black swan in flight: Four tips to help payments move past Covid-19

By James Allum

As coronavirus continues to grip the world, the global economy is in a state of flux. Entire industries have shifted to remote working arrangements and businesses are attempting to carry out vital processes in a rapidly changing environment. James Allum, VP Regional Head at Payoneer Europe, writes

But with no simple end date, for many, recovery and even survival is difficult to predict. As we navigate the uncertain waters of this world health epidemic, we face a stark reminder of the importance of planning ahead. Now is the time to ensure business continuity processes are in place, and that we are prepare for the next unpredictable event.

So, what practical measures can businesses take to ensure that the payments sector continues to thrive well beyond coronavirus?

Preparation

Businesses all around the globe are having to consider what having to consider what steps to take, given that working from home looks set to remain the status quo for months to come. Do you need to make adjustments to turn working from home from a stop gap to a long-term business model? There is an abundance of hardware and software solutions available to enable remote working, and these should be considered as a priority. Whilst a second wave of coronavirus remains a possibility, now is the time to ensure business continuity plans are in place, and that the business is prepared for the long term.

Coronavirus has made it perfectly clear that businesses cannot afford to be unprepared for black swan events. Most business owners will know that “cash is king.” This is especially true in times of crisis. Understanding which financial levers can be pulled to make the most of the money available and minimise cash burn is critical for businesses of all sizes. For most, the end goal is to survive and emerge from the crisis with enough resources to benefit from the eventual bounce back.

Adapt

By thinking outside of the box and listening, businesses can strengthen relationships with customers and build tighter bonds with partners. For example, in the eCommerce world, we have seen Amazon preventing price increases on necessary medical supplies, to protect consumers. There are also examples of marketplaces easing policies to protect sellers in the case of delivery delays, and some have waived sellers’ refund fees to mitigate revenue losses at a time of increased consumer uncertainty. Payoneer has worked with SMBs to help them identify new infrastructure partners and routes to market with their product or service.

It’s also important for businesses to remain aware of incentives on offer from the government. Authorities around the world are continuing to provide grants to small businesses to ease the financial burden of uncertainty.

Diversify

To protect against particular markets or products struggling in a time of crisis, businesses can look to diversify risk by branching out into new markets and expanding their offerings. This can help to spread the impact of potential losses. Certain new products might hold the key for driving revenue during a difficult time.

Supporting Your Workforce

Now that the working from home honeymoon period is well and truly over; it’s important for employers to make employee health and wellbeing a top priority. By having flexible policies in place for employees, particularly those with small children or elderly relatives, the work environment becomes supportive and inclusive.

Businesses must remember that this is not a standard work-from-home environment. Many employees are in the dual role of worker and caregiver, and an understanding and responsive management style is critical to avoiding employee burnout. This approach should be replicated in outward communications to customers, highlighting a culture that is understanding, professional and agile. Keep channels of communication open and be transparent where possible to create trust with employees and customers.

No one can predict the future, but it’s always those who are prepared who will prosper. Below are the key questions that decision makers need to be focused on if they are to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on their business:

  1. Preparation – are you ready for the current situation to last through much of 2020? If not, what can be actioned?
  2. Support – from the wellbeing of employees, to customer service and outward communications, how can you ensure you maintain a culture of understanding and trust?
  3. Adapt – what can you do to preserve relationships with customers and partners?
  4. Diversify – can you identify an alternative product, solution or territory that would provide respite from the challenging economic climate?

 

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