Tag Archives: small business

Why a New Small Business Blockchain is Actually a Big Deal

Efforts to apply blockchain in the supply chain took an interesting turn last week.

blockchain for small business

I'm speaking, of course, about a piece of news that at first seemed pretty ordinary: a group of European banks announced they would band together to develop a blockchain-based trade finance solution.

This one, though, is unusual.

Rather than tackle large-scale global transactions that cross oceans, the project focuses on intra-European trade, and, more importantly, between small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Why is this interesting? It's not because SMEs make up the vast majority of the world's businesses (although that certainly does make for a compelling use case). Rather, it's because of what it says about the evolving nature of trade finance.

We have seen many blockchain projects take a run at the subject, and the application seems obvious. Transactions across borders generally involve significant documentation, a process that itself generates numerous errors and gross inefficiencies.

Reducing the burden associated with getting goods from one place to another has to be a good thing, right?

Let's take a look.

Starting smaller

Most of the projects to date have focused on large international corporations, which is understandable, given that over two-thirds of world trade originates with global enterprises.

Where both the pain and potential promise are most acutely felt, however, is not in conglomerates, but in SMEs. In part, it's because of their sheer number, but mainly, it's due to financial trends.

Approximately 80% of global trade is now conducted through open account transactions, not via traditional channels using letters of credit. This means that there is no bank guarantee of payment.

The buyer pays when it's time to pay – usually well after the product has been delivered.

For many large corporations, this shift reflects tighter restrictions many banks are facing on lending and guarantees, as well as a desire to improve working capital and reduce administration and financing costs.

For most SMEs, open account is their only option, since over half of SME trade finance applications are declined.

Win-win situation

In open account transactions, trust becomes a huge factor. This is an issue when initiating a new commercial relationship, especially for SMEs with patchy or non-existent credit histories.

Without going into the details of how the new platform will work, the ability to see, in real-time, the status of the transaction at each step should make trust more transparent. Accelerating the process from order to settlement will increase liquidity.

The incorporation of the management of the respective banking functions (payment, factoring, etc) aims to facilitate the procedure even further, and could increase margins for both the banks and their participating clients.

Seen from the exporting SME's point of view, the project could be a way to overcome obstacles created by the shifting sands of finance and politics. And from the banks’ point of view, not only will it help to retain and support SME customers, it is also an effective way for banks to re-intermediate themselves into the trade finance process.

Starting within the relatively "safe" confines of the European Union gives the project a chance to test the process of cross-border trade before venturing into more complicated territory.

What's next

If things go according to plan, we shouldn’t have to wait long to see how the project fares with target users. It is already a working proof-of-concept, developed last year by Belgian bank KBC.

Opening it up to six other European institutions is an obvious step toward scalability, presenting a way to test cross-border relationships within a manageable group before it's global.

The team will start to seek regulatory approval within the next few months, with a view to going "live" before the year's end.

Looking forward, the compelling advantage of lower transaction costs and stronger commercial relationships could help to partially offset the uncertainty and potential price of rising interest rates and shifting trade barriers.

It's not hard to see how projects like this could help to prepare businesses around the world for the changes ahead, and to adapt to not only current trends, but future ones as well.

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Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What is your business plan for 2017?

employees-entrepreneurs Now is the best time to review your successes in 2016, and begin to plan for 2017. This is especially true for start-ups and part-time or full-time entrepreneurs that would like to make this coming year a breakout one.

Here are some simple steps to fine tune your plans for 2017.

1) Eliminate waste. Review your monthly expenses. If there is any expense that is not critical to your operations, it must be eliminated or reduced. It is also wise to shop around for competitive services if you have not done so already. The smaller the size of your company, the more critical it is to examine and review any and all unnecessary expenses.

You can view any unnecessary expense as if someone were reaching into your wallet and stealing your hard earned profits. The problem is that you undoubtedly gave them permission to do so. A big problem for small entrepreneurs is recurring monthly expenditures that do not contribute substantially to their bottom line.

2) Make sure that the products and services you offer are top notch and that they meet the needs of your customers. Review each of your products and services, and examine ways to improve them in terms of functionality, quality, speed of execution, etc. Ask your customers directly by phone or by email how you can improve your products, or if there are additional products that they would like to see from you.

3) Based on the input you receive from your customers, make plans to expand your product offering. Above all, do not be a one-trick pony to your customers. Even if you have a main product, see if there isn't a way to offer some kind of premium service or an extension to one of your products or services that might command a premium price that some customers would be willing to consider.

4) Consider outsourcing smaller tasks for which you may not have staff with the particular skills to accomplish the job. A good place to outsource micro-jobs is Fiverr. For a guide to Fiverr that will make your outsourcing job much easier, I have a free Fiverr Finesse – Outsourcing Guide for you.

Just send email to info@goldfinchdigitalpublishing.com with your request, and I will send it to you. It is a 250-page guide with text and data that will help you quickly locate Fiverr vendors in over 120 categories.

Here is a video that explains all about the course, but of course, you will not have to pay for it, It is completely free.

Fiverr Finesse – Outsourcing Guide video

wish you the best possible success in all your endeavors for 2017.  

Make sure you are a member of Markethive to help promote your business in 2017.  Login here —> Markethive

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Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member