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2023 predictions: A level playing field to benefit everyone

Accessible technology is closing the gap between large and small businesses, which is good news for everyone.

Colin Neil  ·  SVP of Business Development UK, Adyen
18 January, 2023
 ·  7 minutes
Illustration of multichannel shopping

Not that long ago, there was a huge discrepancy in the standard of payment acceptance between large and small businesses. I could order, ride, and pay for an Uber via my phone but, on the same day, have to haul to a cash machine because my barber didn’t accept cards.

Thankfully, this is changing. Partly, the pandemic gave small businesses the nudge they needed to digitise. But technology has also become more accessible. Today, thanks to platforms like Fresha, your local barber experience needn’t differ that much from the Uber one; you can search, reserve, and pay in-app. This is huge for small businesses, which are no longer held back by inferior technology solutions; best-in-class is available to all.

36% of decision-makers at large UK businesses are feeling confident about the year ahead.

This leveling of the playing field is an important theme for 2023. And it’s not just small businesses that will benefit. Access to simpler, plug-and-play hardware will help bolster big businesses too by making it easy to roll out new initiatives. That, coupled with progress made in digital transformation over the past years, gives businesses cause for optimism. Perhaps that’s why 36% of decision-makers at large UK businesses are feeling confident about the year ahead; 38% believe their revenue will be higher, and 59% think they’re better placed than their competitors to succeed.*

So, what specific technology is going to drive all this business growth in 2023? Below are my predictions for the UK (note: these are based off our global predictions, published in Forbes):

1. Platforms for growth

Platforms, such as Fresha, are ideally placed to support their users’ growth. Already, they provide a single place from which users can run their businesses. Now, in order to strengthen relationships with their customers, many have begun to diversify.

First, theyembedded payments, providing users with seamless checkouts and streamlined acceptance without the need for additional integrations. This is a huge growth area. 69% of platform users said they would move to a platform that offered an integrated payments experience. And front-running platform businesses are already seeing up to 80% of their revenue coming from embedded payments.

But it doesn’t stop there. Platforms are now beginning to offer additional financial services. These platforms already form the foundation of their users’ business, now it can be their bank too. offering services such as:

  • Business financing, which can be offered on the spot
  • Bank accounts to speed up payouts
  • Card issuing to pay employees and suppliers.

With embedded financial products, platforms can bridge a crucial service gap, providing faster access to funds and keeping businesses solvent.

With embedded financial products, platforms can bridge a crucial service gap, providing faster access to funds and keeping businesses solvent.To go back to my barber example: I pay via the app on my phone and, by the time I get home, the money is in the barber’s bank account and ready to use. At a time when cashflow is important for small businesses, linking payments to bank accounts via one platform brings significant speed to the process.

The benefit for users is ten-fold. Small/medium businesses (SMBs) have long suffered from sluggish financial processes. They’re often overlooked by business banking providers meaning they have inadequate access to the financial services they need. With embedded financial products, platforms can bridge a crucial service gap, providing faster access to funds and keeping businesses solvent.

It’s also a huge opportunity for platforms. Our recent report (produced alongside Boston Consulting Group) found that embedded financial services can unlock a potential revenue uplift of up to 70% for platforms. But the time to act is now. The market for SMB embedded finance is still at an early stage of development, with less than 5% of penetration. But it’s poised to develop rapidly, especially as other platforms wake up to the opportunity. Just bear in mind, before platforms can embedded financial, they need to embedplatform payments.

Illustration of digital payments in store

2. Better in-person experiences

Although digital payments get a lot of press, there have been some exciting developments in in-person (point of sale) payments recently. More of our customers are adopting the next-gen android terminals, which support multiple functions via installed apps. This means restaurant services and sales associates can serve customers from a single hand-held device without having to run backwards and forwards to the till. It makes for a more elegant customer experience. There’s also growing uptake of Apple’s Tap to Pay, which allows businesses to use iPhones to accept contactless payments without the need to purchase or manage additional hardware.

With multiple functions on a single device, updates can be implemented quickly without having to wrestle with multiple connecting systems and hardware.

These innovations make it easier and faster for businesses to roll out the latest experiences to customers. With multiple functions on a single device, updates can be implemented quickly without having to wrestle with multiple connecting systems and hardware. Retailers are jumping at the chance for better in store mobility options. And food and beverage businesses are also using this new technology to help fuel their digital transformation, which is picking up speed, thanks to better technology.

Another important in-person trend is self-service, especially in food and beverage. Late last year, we announced a partnership with Autocanteen, an AI-powered self-checkout solution, which uses deep-learning algorithms and 3D image scanners to capture, detect, and recognise items. This makes it possible to serve 12 people per minute, rather than the standard two.

3. New payment methods

A few years ago, we predicted payment methods would become super apps as the public continues to take more control over their money movement. And we’re seeing just that. Gen Z are contradicting banking norms by going from unbanked status straight to these apps or digital wallets. This practice is particularly prevalent in Brazil where adoption of payment method PIX has overtaken credit card volume. In EMEA, alternatives to traditional banking have been prevalent for years. IDEAL continues to lead in the Netherlands, Swish in Sweden, and Twint in Switzerland.

Also interesting is the uptake of Open Banking. It’s still early days and there’s no immediate reason for customers to switch. But, with its smooth authentication processes and seamless experiences, I expect it to challenge traditional payment methods in the not-too-distant future.

4. Impact

Last year saw a flurry of altruism as the world responded to the Ukrainian crisis. Again, technology made it easier than ever for people to help. The Body Shop customers, for example, raised a wapping £350,000 for the UNHCR via our donation functionality - a figure we were only too delighted to match.

Technology can help turn small gestures into a big impact.

Customers are increasingly socially conscious and will hold brands to account when it comes to supply chains, staff wellbeing, and carbon emissions. On top of that, as the cost of living crisis rages on, businesses and customers alike will need to pull together. This is a challenge given that everyone is feeling the pinch. But hopefully technology can help turn small gestures into a big impact.

5. Workable customer insights

Customer data, and its myriad of benefits, is a familiar topic. But, while there’s plenty of data to be had, many businesses are still struggling with accessing it in any meaningful way. Payments data, for example, can provide a wealth of information about customer behaviour, especially if payments across sales channels are connected. And, while we do expect to see businesses leverage payments data more and more, I think the onus is on tech partners (like Adyen) to package up the data in a way it can be used.

I see big strides being made in this in 2023 as technology providers look to add value to their offering. Reporting and dashboards, along with more consultative services, will become available making it easier than ever to keep pace with your customers.

Illustration of customer insights

Conclusion

It’s impossible to know whether 2023 will be a year of stable growth or if there are yet more curveballs headed our way. One thing’s for certain: Success (even survival) lies in agility. Businesses must be able to identify and respond to changes in consumer trends and market conditions as they happen. Luckily, this new generation of technology makes it easier to stay ahead of the curve. For that reason, I have every confidence that UK commerce is well-placed to thrive, whatever 2023 has in store for us.

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* Source: Business Decision Makers Special Report, Telegraph Media Group November 2022. To sign up for insights from Telegraph Media Group, visit first.telegraph.co.uk




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