Small-to-midsize business (SMB) owners have had to pivot and adjust to the new realities of the economy, throughout the pandemic and beyond. Implementing new business models, investing in PPE and managing employees all come with additional costs, in a business environment that’s already rife with inflationary pressures. 

Managing these challenges takes every available resource, and owner-permissioned SMB open banking data is powering the financial management apps and services that owners are embracing to improve their business operations. According to Mastercard’s Rise of Open Banking Small Business report, connecting accounts is the main driver that provides the insights and analytics that owners are looking for to help tackle critical business tasks. Ninety-six percent of owners are currently linking their business financial accounts, taking advantage of fintech apps and services that leverage open banking data to generate crucial information and insights for their businesses, helping to improve decision-making. The top reasons for connecting accounts are: 

  • Receiving payments from customers (75%)
  • Banking (73%)
  • Billing/invoicing (73%)
  • Paying bills/expenses (73%)
  • Accounting (73%)
  • Cash flow management (72%)

With all the benefits of linking accounts, fintech innovators have a window of opportunity in the SMB space to improve the connection process:  

  • Reducing time for cross-platform verification
  • Making it intuitive for SMB owners to link their accounts, or communicating how to link accounts
  • Utilizing UI that auto-populates routing and accounting numbers
  • Utilizing account owner verification to mitigate fraudulent accounts

Even with the understandable adjustments that it takes to press forward into a new era of digital business and financial management, the desire to adopt is strong in the SMB sector. Owners want to digitize their businesses to help prevent fraud, automate processes and share data and insights across apps. 

Linking Accounts Generates Real-Time Financial Insights

Despite rising fintech use, 94% of small business owners still encounter financial pain points. Many of them cite financial management as a major source of stress.

Owners are seeking solutions that can help them with financial management to address these pain points. They’re looking for better ways to harness their business’s data to get a holistic view, optimize financial management and inform business strategy. 

This is where SMB fintech services providers can step in and provide solutions, partnering with SMBs as they push forward into the new digital economy. Owners are open to receiving help. Sixty-three percent are looking for help with financial planning for their business, and 85% want the kind of custom financial recommendations that come from linking accounts and sharing open banking data. 

The top driver for owners linking accounts is improvement in business decision-making. This comes directly from financial management apps and services. Real-time data paired with AI, machine learning and analytics can have a powerful impact on an owner’s speed of decision-making and action, allowing them to either take advantage of opportunities or avoid costly mistakes. 

Better data and better decisions naturally feed into the rest of the top-three SMB owners’ concerns: saving time and improving financial health. 

How Small Businesses are Using Open Banking Fintech Apps and Services

According to Mastercard’s report, banking is the top use case for small businesses, once they link their accounts. Depositing checks, paying bills and transferring funds are core, everyday needs that SMB owners are currently using fintech to accomplish. 

Billing and invoicing can be streamlined and automated with fintech, and small businesses want this. Sixty-one percent of small businesses are already using fintech to do so. When routine tasks can be handled in the background by apps, owners can move more pressing concerns to the forefront. Growing, scaling and developing products or services can be given the bandwidth they deserve.

Sixty percent are using digital apps and services for cash flow management. With real-time data from linked accounts, owners can pay bills strategically, while making sure they can pay vendors, employees and themselves. 

While the number of SMBs leveraging fintech apps is currently in the 50-60% range, the Rise of Open Banking study found that the number who want to use digital apps and services powered by open banking is over 90% for the majority of use cases. 

The 31.7 million small businesses in the US are looking for more choice in financial services. They’re willing and ready to adapt to the digital future, and are looking for innovators that provide solutions to help them make better decisions.

 

Mastercard’s “always on” platform means maximum connection uptime and the highest quality data for insights into the financial health of a small business. Read the full report here to see details on the solutions small businesses are looking for from financial service technology.

*Some open banking services are provided by Mastercard’s wholly owned subsidiary, Finicity Corporation.