SMEs – particularly small businesses led by individual entrepreneurs – have emerged as major contributors to South African foreign trade, in a study at Bidvest Bank.
The foreign exchange and trade facilitation specialist identified the small business leader as an import-export go-getter while scrutinising uptake of the Bidvest Bank Global Payments Online™ offering one-year after launch.
Bidvest Bank has a growing base of corporate business, but was surprised to see that the fast, secure and simple global payments platform was also being utilised by growing numbers of SMEs.
International trading activity
The system that drives the Bidvest Bank Global Payments Online™ product is installed free of charge at a client’s business premises using a secure Internet-based link. On-site user training is also free. Each client is assigned a dedicated relationship manager who regularly visits the premises, enabling the bank to develop an accurate picture of the scale of operations.
Says Paul Scott, Head of Global Trading and Investments at Bidvest Bank: “A standout feature of the system’s successful rollout is the rate of take-up by SMEs, specifically companies led by individual entrepreneurs who are very close to their business.
“The fact that so much international trading activity is driven by smaller businesses is a healthy sign for the economy as it indicates that import-export volumes are not concentrated at one end of the business spectrum.”
For SMEs, one of the major advantages of the global payment system, identified in face-to-face interviews with clients, is time efficiency.
Scott explains: “Owner-managers are extremely sensitive to downtime, not only that of employees but their own. Few banks realise just how irritated these customers become when they have to queue in a banking hall or wait for approvals or other documentation.
“These hassles just don’t happen when a business owner has global payment capacity online at his own office.
“We made strong play of cost-savings during the product launch as clients only pay per transaction. In fact, time savings are equally important for this customer segment.”
- Places and prices orders for foreign exchange online
- Answers online exchange rate enquiries
- Authorises orders in real-time and provides confirmation
- Provides free world market and foreign exchange news daily
- Allows users to order forward cover online
- Creates secure payment instructions
- Gives users their transactional history
- Facilitates automated order confirmations, payment confirmations and balance of payment (BOP) forms
- There are no hidden costs and licence fees
The system can be accessed from anywhere in the world where the Internet can be securely used.