From news down to the latest mobile trends, we listed down what’s new for businesses in 2021.

The past year wasn’t exactly what most business-owners had planned. Stores closing, businesses migrating online — the pandemic has created a sudden shift in the business sector, affecting the majority of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As 2021 rolls in, the fight against COVID-19 is not yet won. However, with countries starting to receive vaccines and locking restrictions slowly easing, the end of the tunnel appears within sight.

Here’s what else is new for the small to medium businesses in the first quarter of 2021:

Latest News in SME

Credit card fraud increases.

Hack, Fraud, Card, Code, Computer, Credit, Crime, Cyber

Experts predict that by the end of 2021, the cost of cybercrime would reach up to $6 trillion per year.

While online shopping during the pandemic has increased convenience between consumer and merchants, fraudsters are also seeing more opportunity to scam for money. A common fraud tactic is tricking customers into filling out online forms with their bank details or credit card information in fake websites.

“Fraud is kind of like an arms race,” said Julie Fergerson, CEO of Merchant Risk Council. “Whatever technology is being implemented, the fraudsters will eventually figure out a workaround, so you have to constantly keep investing. And that’s the cost of business.”

Experts warn customers and business-owners alike to be wary of the following fraud trends:

  1. Authorised push payments (APP)

Have you encountered a suspicious call or message asking you to provide them with your financial information? Many fraudsters trick people into sending money to a different bank account with a fake invoice that some mistake as legitimate. They could make the logo, format, and even the email address look as if they come from a familiar trusted company.

  1. Account takeover

Unlike APP fraud where criminals communicate directly with you, account takeover fraud makes the transaction without you. Instead, they hack into your personal information and pose as you to carry out unauthorised transactions.

Fortunately, security features such as Touch IDs or fingerprint scanners in devices help alleviate the number of identity theft cases.

  1. New account fraud

This fraud tactic is very similar to account takeover, but instead of taking over your account with your personal information, they create a new one. With the new accounts, the fraudsters max out credit limits before disappearing. This is more difficult to spot, according to experts, because cybercriminals can be running multiple synthetic identities at the same time. This lessens suspicious behavior for each account, so that they can go undetected by banks.

  1. Transaction or Payment fraud

This kind of fraud refers to illegal transactions made in your name. These can be made through the illegal obtaining and using of your existing credit card information. Cybercriminals usually steal your information through phishing. Phishing attacks refer to the tricking of unassuming victims into giving out their personal financial information through messages or emails. These emails masquerade as legitimate requests from so-called “companies” the recipient trusts.

  1. Synthetic identity fraud

This type of fraud is relatively new but the fastest growing financial crime, but it goes with the same tactic of faking personas. In this case, there is no direct “victim” however the fraudsters can blend data by using a piece of genuine information under a fake name. For example, they can use a made-up name while taking your real address. This can be harmful to your credit file once realized.

Restaurants pivot towards takeaways and delivery in the new normal.

At least 800 restaurants in the UK closed for good in 2020. The restaurant industry also faced a 163% rise in job losses in the same year. The pandemic and the lockdown restrictions have affected millions of businesses worldwide, but restaurants must be among the few that took the largest hit.

When restaurants were allowed to open again in July 2020, customers were down by around 45%. Although restrictions were slowly eased, improvement was little. The sudden closing of restaurants in December 2020 only burdened the remaining restaurants with food and stocks left and no one to cook it for.

Today, the hope for a robust hospitality industry is bleak, but it is not entirely lost. According to Rayment & Asbury of BDO United Kingdom, “Those businesses that survive will be fighting for the attention of the consumer. Consumer habits and attitudes are likely to have changed.” Business owners in this industry would have to take the time to gain back customer loyalty. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also gave hints on the reopening of [outdoor] restaurants sometime from April 12th, but this can change anytime if things don’t go as planned.

The leisure and hospitality business sectors surely took a nosedive when leaders all over the world advised their citizens to stay away from restaurants, bars, and other crowded places. In response to the health guidelines and its third lockdown, UK restaurants are forced to pivot and offer their meals through takeaways, collection, or delivery.

Luckily, technology has been saving businesses for years. This includes restaurants that continue to serve their customers despite the closed doors. Contactless service and online takeaways have been especially helpful in the new normal.

Restaurants are also taking the extra step to ensure safety among their staff. The UK government urges the regular food industry to test all its employees for COVID-19 to maintain safety in the workplace. The workplace testing programme is currently offered for free to all employers with more than 50 workers. It runs until June 30th but businesses must register before the 31st of March. 

New public policies on business and finance are announced.

Rishi Sunak announces biggest business tax cut in UK history (UK)

On recent news, UK Finance Minister, Rishi Sunak announced the biggest business tax cut in British history. According to his Budget Statement on March 3rd, 2021, the country now offers businesses the chance to reduce their bill by 130% of any invested amount. This is an attempt to “offset the long-term tax hit on businesses” and to encourage an investment-led recovery — supporting businesses and protecting jobs through the lockdown.

“While many businesses are struggling, others have been able to build up significant cash reserves,” Sunak explains. “We need to unlock that investment, we need an investment-led recovery.”

The large tax cut, however, will also be followed by an increase in the middle of the decade. Corporation tax on corporation profits will increase to 25% in the year 2023. However, this will still be much lower than other countries and this will only be applicable to the largest, most successful businesses. The announcement was to give these companies time to plan.

SBA announces PPP loans for the self-employed and gig workers (US)

Sole proprietors and other small business-owners have struggled with access to the forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) since its launch in April 2020 but the Biden administration promises extra help.

Due to the volume of firms applying for the program, many small businesses and minority-owned businesses have been left behind. However this time, the Small Business Association (SBA) is blocking out 14 days to exclusively accept applications from firms with less than 20 employees. This means small business owners can finally be prioritized.

The SBA is also working on changes to the guidelines of the program including the increase in loan amounts and elimination of previous restrictions around delinquent federal student loans. Small business applicants with prior non-fraud felony charges and noncitizens with taxpayer IDs could now apply to the program as well.

Newest mobile app developments in 2021

With technology constantly progressing, it’s not surprising to find it among the leading trends this year. Here’s what we’re expecting this year for mobile app developments:

  1. Internet of Things (IoT) App Integration

If you think the internet couldn’t make your life any easier, think again. With the Internet of Things (IoT), you can control different gadgets and appliances in your home by just connecting them to the internet. This isn’t a new concept as we’ve seen too many devices like Smart watches, Smart TVs, etc. using this IoT, but we expect the rise of more devices using the same technology. According to Global Data, the IoT market is expected to reach $318 billion by 2023.

  1. 5G Mobile Internet Network

Trends suggest that within the year, the number of 5G smartphone subscriptions will increase to 600 million. That’s triple the numbers in 2020! The 5G technology boasts of its speed, running up to 10 gigabits per second — 10 to 100 times faster than 4G. With the extremely low latency rate, sending information can take only 1 millisecond.

The roll-out of this new cellular broadband technology means faster mobile internet, and connectivity to more objects with the huge IoT revolution advancing.

  1. Mobile/Digital payments

Customers and merchants alike used to be wary of digital payments. Today, however, more and more users have developed confidence in them. This year, we will be seeing more developments through biometric authentication, smart speaker payments, and even contactless payments. We’re not exactly ridding of cards just yet, but with the current progress of digital payment development, we might have no need for them in the future.

This is the future, and it looks like technology is on a sprint! With the current progress, businesses can look forward to faster connections and easier transactions. Take note that we’re only in the first quarter of 2021! Rumor has it, it only gets better (and more high-tech) from here. Let’s see what happens in the 2nd quarter of 2021.