Small businesses battle with fraud

According to a survey conducted by regional bank KeyBank, small businesses are increasingly concerned about payment fraud.

Nearly 2,000 small to medium-sized businesses, each with annual revenues under $10 million, were polled. The survey revealed that the primary concern among these businesses is payment fraud in various forms.

Specifically, 44% of respondents expressed worry about unauthorised transactions or electronic fund transfers, 37% were anxious about identity theft, 28% cited malware and ransomware attacks as their major concern, and 27% were troubled by phishing and email scams.

Mike Walters, President of Business Banking at KeyBank, stressed the importance of owners having a plan in place to combat fraud. He commented: “With the introduction of new technology over the last several years, small businesses are some of the many that have fallen victim to fraudulent activity.”

Beyond fraud, the survey identified three other significant economic challenges anticipated by these businesses in the upcoming months: high overhead costs, delays in client or customer payments, and fluctuating revenue.

Despite these challenges, there is a strong sense of resilience among business owners. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed expressed confidence in their ability to cover one month’s operating expenses with their cash reserves if faced with an unexpected financial need.

Jason Kurtz, CEO of Basware, commented: “While fraud is a top concern, it’s no surprise to see late and delayed payments also presenting a major challenge to business leaders and CFOs. Late payments can cause severe problems for suppliers when managing cash flow, contributing to stunted business growth. Inevitable issues such as missed emails, overlooked invoices, and delays in processing worsen the problem, causing headaches for finance leaders tasked with managing the organisation’s financial obligations. At the worst case, late payments can cripple smaller businesses and create significant cash flow problems for large organisations.

“Inefficiencies in the approval workflow cause 47% of invoice approvals to be delayed which can further damage supplier relationships and cause financial strain. It is essential to reduce invoice processing times to avoid such issues and maintain healthy supplier relationships.

“Automation presents itself as a solution to streamline processes, mitigate cost pressures, and collaborate with suppliers. As CFOs define their responsibilities, leveraging technology becomes essential to drive efficiency and ensure financial stability amid economic uncertainties. By embracing automation and respecting payment terms, businesses can alleviate the burden on finance departments, adopt a culture of reliability and transparency in their supplier relationships, safeguard against financial compliance risks, and foster long-term sustainability and growth for both buyers and suppliers alike.”