(BPT) - The dollar, the euro, the pound, the yen… the currency people use around the world has many different names, but it all shares something in common. Paper forms of currency are out and digital payments are in. The security and convenience of card based electronic payments and digital payments are driving a global shift away from cash. As consumers and merchants around the world become more and more digitally connected this shift will continue to accelerate.
All over the world, the shift toward cashless payments is well underway. On the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, taco and tamale vendors are starting to offer their delicious food to customers with the swipe or tap of a card on a mobile phone. In Singapore, consumers can rent bikes, pay for their morning coffee and split their dinner bill without ever needing cash, and in Warsaw, as cashless payments are becoming increasingly accepted, tourists can start to tap and pay their way around the city without carrying cash.
Changes abroad, changes at home
The United States is seeing similar changes. Cash and checks are on their way out and swiping, dipping, tapping and clicking are filling the void — benefiting consumers and businesses alike.
A recent Cashless Cities study from Visa, set to be released later this year, finds that if businesses in the top 100 U.S. cities transitioned from cash to digital payments, those businesses and their cities would experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. Businesses in New York City alone would net $6.8 billion while saving more than 186 million hours in labor. But the benefits of taking checks and cash out of the system do not stop at labor cost efficiencies. They include:
* Convenience. Consumers and businesses alike benefit from the speed and convenience of electronic and digital payments. Faster checkout times mean more sales for businesses and more time to spend on the important things in life for consumers.
* Security. Accepting cash payments has always placed businesses in a bind; as their revenue increases, so does their risk of falling victim to theft. Transitioning to cashless payment options enhances security and reduces risk for businesses and their customers.
* Reduced costs. Cash payments must be counted, stored and transported. There are costs associated with all of these processes. Adopting cashless payments saves businesses time and money.
Moving forward to take advantage of cashless opportunities
Many businesses across the country are already benefiting from going cashless, but for companies — particularly small businesses that have yet to take the leap — now is the perfect time to make such a change.
Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible U.S.-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100 percent cashless quest.
Business owners can learn more about the challenge and the other benefits of going cashless at www.visa.com/cashless. Complete rules and information will be available on the website on Aug. 15.
(BPT) - Today’s business environment is characterized by excitement as much as it is by anxiety. As new technologies are constantly introduced into the workplace and transform how employees work, managers need to adjust in order to retain employees, streamline processes and stay competitive.
“Companies of all sizes are looking for solutions that allow them to work and collaborate seamlessly from anywhere, transforming their businesses to be more efficient and mobile,” says Nate Spilker, vice president of product management at Citrix.
Many see such rapid change as particularly challenging for small to mid-sized businesses, where limits of capital, personnel and other resources may prevent them from being able to fully adapt to changes and implement fixes.
In fact, the opposite may be true. Because small to mid-sized businesses have less red tape to get through, they may be in a better position to become early adopters and outpace the competition. With an entrepreneurial spirit, they can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth. Here are five way they are doing just that:
1. Growing IT budget. For all the promises that come with new software and hardware, there's also a price tag. Beyond implementing new technology, businesses need to grow their IT staff to ensure everything functions as it should. To combat these costs, many have adopted a bring your own device (BYOD) policy in which employees use their personal computer, laptop or tablet to work. According to Forbes, this policy can save companies as much as $3,150 per employee per year. The key to a successful BYOD policy is software that provides rigid security measures and allows individuals to access shared files and work with one another, whether on a Mac, Windows or other operating system.
2. Keeping ahead of administrative tasks. When Hope Blankenship’s business To the Rescue Bookkeeping was expanding from a single location to multiple offices in different states, she quickly realized her success also brought new challenges, namely, how to coordinate and manage multiple locations. Blankenship discovered that Citrix ShareFile, which provided an automated workflow, file sharing, remote desktop access and document signing, was the solution she needed to coordinate with several people in a number of locations and not get bogged down by administrative work.
3. Customer security and confidentiality. Despite living in a digital age, many small and medium-sized businesses still rely on printed materials and faxes when working with clients. In fact, 72 percent of business agree that improved document processing would improve customer relations and increase their brand value.
“Business leaders recognize the need to embrace a modern, digital workplace to drive greater efficiency in business processes. This means taking a close look at their document and information management workflows and embracing technologies to take the friction out of these processes while keeping data secure,” says Terri McClure, senior analyst, Cloud Infrastructure and File Sharing, ESG. “By using ShareFile’s collaborative workflow and security features, customers and their clients benefit from more streamlined and structured processes, less time to complete projects, deliver results and increase customer satisfaction, all while complying with stringent security requirements.”
4. Generational differences. It has often been said that there has never been a greater gap between generations than there is with millennials and older generations. Smart businesses use these differences to create a dynamic and diverse workplace. This is done through traditional mentoring programs in which older employees train younger ones on professional development, career advancement and numerous other soft and hard skills while the younger group can teach older workers how to efficiently use new technologies.
5. Lack of space. One of the biggest problems a growing business faces is in finding the space for an expanding staff, either in their home offices or in remote locations. By incorporating remote file sharing and workflow technology into their business plan, physical space has become less of an issue. This technology streamlines the workflow and allows people to collaborate from virtually anywhere in the world and in the process, saves on the cost of rent.
The driving force behind many of these solutions involves a cutting-edge file synch-and-sharing system, like Citrix ShareFile.
“Citrix is continuing to drive innovation in ShareFile beyond file sharing and storage to address the workflow needs of the modern worker. Now with a simpler user interface and use-case-specific solutions, ShareFile is helping its customers to increase productivity and collaboration,” Spilker says.
With more than 80,000 business customers and 20 million business users, Citrix has developed their systems to be easy to use and capable of handling all types of files, from sensitive legal briefs to 3D architectural designs. Combining user experience with security, ShareFile safeguards data through leading industrial security standards.
To learn more about small business technology solutions, visit www.sharefile.com.
(BPT) - As a small business owner, you do it all: the books, marketing, customer service, product, inventory and — oh yes — tech support. In fact, small and microbusiness owners are more likely to shoulder all tech tasks for their firms, according to a study by the National Small Business Association. Yet unless your business is IT, chances are you struggle to speak the language of business technology solutions.
“Small business owners need to be masters of virtually every aspect of their business, but they shouldn’t have to be translators, too,” says Nate Spilker, vice president of cloud services for Citrix. “Technology can help small businesses grow and stay ahead of the competition. Organizations of all sizes need the technology they use to be easy to adopt, improve efficiency, reduce costs and boost productivity, no matter what their industry.”
Microbusiness tech challenges
The 3.7 million microbusinesses (which the Small Business Administration defines as having fewer than nine employees) make up more than 75 percent of all private-sector employers, and provide nearly 11 percent of private sector jobs, according to the SBA. Their tech needs are significant, yet 40 percent of microbusiness owners handle all their company’s IT support, according to the National Small Business Association.
Additionally, 60 percent allow employees to telecommute, which can make sharing files and data problematic. Telecommuting employees may save documents and files on local hard drives, rather than centralized locations where others can securely access and collaborate on the documents. What's more, 57 percent don’t use cloud computing, a technology designed to enhance collaboration, the NSBA reports.
Technology can help microbusiness owners improve efficiency, reduce and control costs, provide superior customer service and satisfaction, and focus more time on activities that help the business prosper. Stephen L. Nelson, CPA, used Citrix ShareFile to securely, quickly and easily share documents and files with his clients.
Replacing the inefficient method of physically mailing documents with file sharing technology allowed his small team to get more done in less time, reduced the need for physical storage space for paper files, and increased productivity for his firm and his clients. Lowering overhead, paper and office space costs allowed Nelson to grow his business 10 percent.
Talking about solutions
The terminology that describes common tech tools can be mystifying to small business owners. Spilker and the small business technology professionals at Citrix offer explanations of some common terms and tools:
* Digital transformation — Technology is profoundly affecting how companies of all sizes do business. They are moving away from traditional, more labor-intensive processes in favor of digital tools, activities and processes.
* Cloud computing — Instead of storing, managing and processing data on an office computer or local server, cloud computing executes the same functions by using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet.
* File-sharing — Transferring files or documents via email or ftp servers has drawbacks, including potential security issues, version control challenges and slow speeds. File-sharing technology allows people using different devices to access, edit, change and otherwise use files, documents and other types of data stored in the cloud. Citrix ShareFile, for example, makes it easy for small business teams to securely share files and client data, collaborate on documents and obtain electronic signatures.
* Integrated document workflow — In order to keep work moving, small businesses require the ability to work with documents and move data between multiple kinds of software. For example, an accounting firm needs to be able to take data from W-2s (which might be stored in one format) and move that information to a tax form stored in a different format or “living” in a different system.
* Real time — When hardware or software does its job so quickly — in a matter of miliseconds — the user can immediately take entered data and put it to work.
* File sync — Storing files in multiple locations or having multiple users work with them on different devices can lead to discrepancies between versions. File synchronization technology basically compares these multiple versions to each other and allows users to update all versions with the most current changes, regardless of which user made the changes.
* Cyber security — Criminals who attempt to steal, manipulate, hack or otherwise illegally access a business’ proprietary computer systems and data are cyber criminals. All the steps a business takes to thwart these criminals — including anti-virus software and firewalls — are aspects of cyber security.
"ShareFile has really allowed my firm to digitally transform," says Nelson. "The addition of automated workflows and secure file-sharing has improved efficiencies, which allows my team to focus our attention on delivering the best client service possible, while ensuring vital company and client data remains safe. Adopting a safe and secure online portal for customer engagement has been essential for delivering on the bottom line."
To learn more about small business technology solutions, visit www.sharefile.com.
(BPT) - Almost every New Year, money-related goals rank near the top of resolution lists, right alongside “eat healthier.”
The struggle is real. Many try to save money — at least for a few weeks — by bringing a sack lunch to work, driving past their fancy coffee shop or ignoring enticing emails of storewide clearance sales.
USAA Bank surveyed people of all ages and income levels about how they save money and find extra cash in a pinch. Though many respondents said they are trying to save, most expressed difficulty doing so.
“Savings are typically based on life stages. Those who are just starting out are saving for a major purchase, such as a car or home. If you’re older you’re more focused on retirement,” says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal finance advice at USAA.
As expected, USAA’s research found a person’s ability to save largely depends on their age and household income. Older Americans and those with greater incomes use their savings to cover unexpected expenses and save for retirement.
Those with household incomes less than $35,000 are significantly more likely to say they’re not able to save regularly. To be sure, economists say slower income growth in the last decade also may have contributed to inadequate savings levels.
When asked how they cover unexpected expenses, most respondents reported taking money out of a savings account. However, nearly half of respondents seek out additional work; 35 percent have been compelled to borrow money from family and friends; 23 percent have sold personal items and 8 percent have taken out a payday loan.
More than half of American households have less than one month of income available in readily accessible savings to use in case of an emergency, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Household Saving Rate in the United States increased to 5.6 percent in October from 5.3 percent in September of 2015, the highest since December 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal Savings in the United States averaged 8.36 percent from 1959 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of 17 percent in May of 1975 and a record low of 1.90 percent in July of 2005.
The good news is that eliminating the occasional grande macchiato and ignoring a swanky handbag that’s finally 50 percent off, might not be necessary or most effective. JJ Montanaro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (TM) at USAA, said there’s a better way to save.
He offers a few simple strategies to try in 2016:
* Review routine bills and compare service providers. Look for ways of reducing fees and costs.
* Look into refinancing your mortgage or auto loan — you may qualify for a lower rate. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
* Find the right credit card. Look for a card with a low interest rate or cash-back rewards.
* Trade down to a less expensive car. We often spend more on transportation than necessary.
“Most people think that in order to make a dent in their savings, they have to cut out all unnecessary daily expenses like trips to the coffee shop, but there are other ways to help you save more and reduce annual spending,” Montanaro said.
To learn more about how USAA can help you reach your financial goals, visit www.usaa.com.
(BPT) - From complicated passwords to smart home security systems, it seems like everyone these days is coming up with novel ways to protect themselves and their family, and keep their valuables secure.
We all want to feel safe. However, almost 60 percent of adults believe the overall level of risk facing their family — whether to personal safety or financial assets — is increasing, according to Travelers 2015 Consumer Risk Index.
With so many creative and often confusing ways to achieve security, experts from the FBI to AARP agree that people need to start thinking “inside” of the box. That is, use a safe deposit box to store important documentation, jewelry, currency, collectibles and other valued possessions.
For baby boomers and seniors especially, “thinking inside the box” is one of the easiest, most effective and inexpensive ways to protect valued assets.
It is important, however, to also remember their limits. Contrary to popular belief, safe deposit boxes are not insured by any financial institution or federal agency. This is why Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage, LLC (SDBIC) has recently introduced an affordable way to safeguard the contents of your box.
With this added security, here are three reasons why ‘store it and insure it’ should soon be a trending topic among certain groups.
Life transitions require blueprints
Life transitions are never easy and can often become entangled in unforeseen difficulties if a document is misplaced. The need to store important materials in a secure and accessible location, away from the shuffling of everyday life, is paramount.
Wills, trusts, titles, legal directives for financial holdings and other documentation are critical to keeping your life in order, plus ensuring that those closest to you have a complete and organized ‘blueprint’ for executing and managing your personal and financial wishes.
Moving makes you more vulnerable
A Better Homes and Gardens survey found that 57 percent of boomers — amounting to almost 48 million — plan to move out of their current home. At the same time, their parents are often moving into assisted living facilities or retirement communities.
These kinds of physical relocations increase the risk of having valuable property lost due to human error, theft or larceny and make your home more vulnerable to burglary.
The chance of recovering stolen property remains dismal. FBI crime report statistics show that of the approximately $2.6 billion in jewelry, precious metals, currency, notes and other documents stolen from homes, less than 8 percent was ever recovered.
Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity
Floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes and more continue to hammer both homes and businesses at an alarming pace, with three of five major natural disasters last year occurring right here in the U.S., according to ABC News.
During any of these, a commercial building — and especially a steel vault — stands a better chance of maintaining structural integrity than a home. Even if not for full-time storage purposes, you should use a safe deposit box or vault unit as a safe haven for your valuables.
As the recent, offseason floods along the Mississippi, in Texas and the southeast testify, these natural disasters are no longer predictable and some of the most destructive ever recorded.
Research suggests 40 to 60 percent of consumer’s valuable personal items damaged in these events are not protected by homeowners’ insurance.
The takeaway—store it and insure it
In addition to the peace of mind that comes with a safe deposit box, consumers can now easily access a patented, affordable insurance which provides blanket coverage for the entire contents of a safe deposit box without disclosures, appraisals or deductibles. It’s a new solution many banks across the country are beginning to offer their customers, according to the American Bankers Insurance Association (ABIA).
It is also the only insurance in the country that will now protect previously uninsurable items such as currency, bonds, cash, gold, silver and even important papers like wills, trusts, titles, deeds, photos and digital backups.
“Our goal has always remained the same,” says Gerald Pluard, president of SDBIC, LLC, “to help make the safest places even safer for consumers.”
Interested in Publishing on The Business IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Interested in Publishing on The Business Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Get this business content for your website with our RSS Feed below!