Practical advice for SMEs

Practical advice for SMEs during the Coronavirus crisis

From an economic, social and cultural standpoint the outbreak of COVID-19 is sure to be one of the defining global events of our lifetime. It’s important to acknowledge that each of us is experiencing this pandemic differently, as many of us try to balance the reality of our new working situations with prioritising the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones. As the economy slows during these unprecedented times, there are several steps you can take to manage the impact of COVID-19 on your business, home life and wellbeing.

Managing the impact of coronavirus on your business

On 23 March, the majority of public businesses in the UK including shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres were formally asked to close for an indefinite period of time. Many businesses are already beginning to feel the strain of this unprecedented shut-down. During March, data from Barclaycard showed consumer spending declined by 6 per cent. However, the data also showed some retailers reporting strong growth during March with spending in supermarkets rising 21.3 per cent and specialist food and drink stores rising by 30.5 per cent.

In response to the developing situation, the government have put a variety of guidelines and support packages in place to help support businesses through the pandemic, including the ability to claim wages for employees and business rate relief.

Barclaycard Payments is working hard to help our customers during these tough times and we have provided a comprehensive hub of FAQs that answer your commonly asked questions whatever service or product we provide for you, whether that is accepting or making business payments.

To keep our colleagues safe, our call centre colleagues are working remotely and are supporting all of our business customers but there are lots of practical things you can do quickly online. Start with our help pages and FAQs if you need assistance.

Contactless has never been more important

While Barclaycard has been playing a leading role in contactless for more than ten years, it’s become much more central to the way we pay for new reasons. Now, to better suit the needs of customers during the pandemic, providers have increased contactless spend limits from £30 to £45 in the UK from 1 April – helping shoppers to make payments without touching card readers or handling cash. Contactless limits are similarly rising across many other European countries.

Retailers using a card reader provided by Barclaycard Payments do not need to do anything in order to offer the increased contactless transaction limit. We are taking care of everything for our SME customers and their Barclaycard card reader(s) updated automatically.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said, “It’s more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety. We are proud to be taking a leadership position in the UK by deploying the higher contactless threshold. By supporting the ability of customers to spend up to £45 via contactless, we are playing a part in helping UK consumers to pay safely and securely in these challenging times”.

Stay vigilant against coronavirus scams

Fraudsters are known to be using the coronavirus outbreak as a cover for scams, with more than 500 coronavirus-related scams and over 2,000 phishing attempts by criminals seeking to exploit fears over the pandemic reported to UK investigators. Falling victim to one of the many coronavirus scams around at the moment is the last thing anyone needs.

At Barclaycard Payments we are enhancing our activities in the fraud prevention space, looking at alternative ways of working to accommodate clients who have instigated working from home for their employees. Remember, we’ll never ask you to move money to a safe account, or ask you to share your passcodes or PINs with us. For more advice and information, head to our coronavirus scams information.

Prioritise your health and wellbeing

As we all try to navigate this unchartered territory, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed right now, and some of our Barclaycard Payments colleagues have shared their tips on how to focus on your resilience and wellbeing.

The official government advice during lockdown dictates you should only go outside for food, health reasons, or work (but only if you can’t work from home). In addition to these rules, staying physically and mentally fit during this time could mean adopting a few new habits:

  • Take regular breaks while working at home (Google the Pomodoro technique!)
  • Stay in regular contact with friends and family, now is the time to check in on loved ones
  • Stay as active as possible
  • Tune out of the news coverage now and then if you find it overwhelming
  • Try something creative
  • Read something new
  • Do something for charity. From volunteering for the NHS to raising money for key charities and sewing PPE in your living room, there are so many organisations that need our help right now

Most importantly, go easy on yourself. This pandemic has seen the UK and global communities pull together in more ways than we ever thought possible – you only need listen to the electrifying sound of your neighbours clapping for the NHS on a Thursday evening to know that we really are all in this together.