Most businesses today have global ambitions. And if you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), research suggests that you can only grow if you internationalise. Fintech (financial technology) is one of the tools fueling the aspirations of businesses to conquer new countries and markets. This is especially true for Singapore, which is a leading fintech hub and ranked first in the Asia-Pacific region in the Global FinTech Rankings 2021, edging past larger economies like China, Australia, and Japan. Singapore houses 40% of all fintech firms in Southeast Asia, says the Singapore Exchange.
While most businesses use some form of financial technology – digital payments being a major player – your choice of fintech can make a huge difference to your goal of growing into a successful global business. Does your fintech stack allow you to make easy payments and transfer money across borders? Is it affordable and convenient to use? Can it shoulder your small business’ big dreams? Today, we’ll explore what a fintech stack that’s made for global growth must possess, and how Aspire can help you in your journey towards global dominance.
In a competitive trade environment where borders are blurring, many businesses are taking their first steps towards launching international operations. If you are a business that aspires for global growth, this is what the road ahead entails:
To be relevant today, a fintech stack – a collection of fintech tools that run, support, and optimise your finance, accounting, and operational processes and systems – must support global growth. Here are the advantages you can reap from using fintech that’s geared towards taking your business international:
From facilitating money transfers via apps and electronic devices to using alternative processing networks, fintech has made cross-border payments in the currency of your choice easier. What’s more, they charge a fraction of what banks and traditional financial institutions do. Fintech also fulfils the needs of businesses, customers, and suppliers who are becoming increasingly accustomed to digital payments.
Fintech has made it easier and quicker to get funding to support your global growth plans. If you are a small business, a fintech firm might be your most dependable source of funding. This is because banks are usually reluctant to lend to SMEs and start-ups due to their modest cash flow, limited collateral, and lack of business experience.
Using a great fintech stack injects efficiency into your accounting processes. It helps you save time, reduce human error, and avoid delays with automated approvals and payments. It enables the structured delegation of responsibilities so your employees can perform their duties in the most efficient manner. The time you save can be spent on more profitable ventures such as growing your business while the increased productivity of your staff will make your business more competitive in the global market. Perhaps most importantly, a good fintech stack gives you complete visibility and control over your expenses and cash flow. And we all know that effective spend management and cash flow management are crucial to the success of small businesses.
An often overlooked benefit from fintech is the valuable insights you gain on customers and clients. A great fintech stack is data-driven. It creates comprehensive profiles of your customers – their interests, preferences, banking activity, and so on. By using this data, you can make crucial decisions to better serve your customers, provide competitive rates and prompt service, and allow them to pay in the ways they prefer. By tracking unusual transactions, you can develop fraud detection systems and improve the security of your payment gateways. Expanding your customer base is, after all, integral to running a global business.
When we talk about fintech that’s geared towards global growth, Aspire stands among the best of them. Here are five ways you can find global success with Aspire:
Aspire helps you empower your employees to independently make payments and fund transfers so you can save time and optimise processes, all in a secure environment. Here’s how:
Business owners are often reluctant to give employees access to company funds. Security is the key concern. But such a practice is counter-productive. With Aspire Multi-User Access, your employees can make timely transfers and payments independently. This is especially empowering for your finance teams in foreign branches who might not have the luxury of waiting for your approval before closing an important deal. And be assured, Multi-User Access doesn’t let you compromise on security as it comes with advanced permission settings. At the top are individuals assigned the role of ‘Admin’ (business owners and top management), who have full access to the company account. Next, there’s ‘Finance’ (finance team, executives), who can make ‘transfers without limits’ and ‘submit for approval’ or might enjoy ‘no transfer rights’, depending on the level of access granted. Finally, there are staff members assigned the role of ’Employee’, many of whom are provided with an Aspire corporate card of their own to take care of business expenses. Multi-User Access not only takes the sting out of sharing account access but helps you save time, delegate effectively, and build trust with your employees. To a great extent, it also reduces dependence on manual processes – such as submitting claims for approval and chasing invoices – that are time-consuming and have no place in a globally-competitive business.
With Aspire’s corporate cards, your employees can cover business expenses without having to pay out of pocket and wait to be reimbursed. The cards come with a certain degree of financial autonomy, allowing them to make timely payments. Since they are no longer dependent on their bosses back in headquarters to release payments, they can carry out their responsibilities quickly and more effectively. For a business that plans to go global, it is good to remove such dependencies, which when combined with international time differences can lead to costly delays and lost opportunities. And if you think making your employees financially independent means relinquishing control over your finances, it doesn’t. With Aspire, you can still track your employees’ card spend, set and update spend limits, freeze and cancel cards any time, and stop worrying about fraudulent bills. With such a centralised approach to spend management, you are always in control of your expenses, even when they happen in a distant country. Another feature that makes Aspire’s corporate cards a useful tool for your global growth is that you can dedicate a card exclusively to a regional office or a specific expense category (marketing spend, social media advertising spend, subscriptions, etc) for a particular country or market. By segmenting expenses this way, you’ll organise your finances better and improve transparency. After all, monitoring your finances across different locations can be a challenge, more so if you’re just starting your global journey.
One of the biggest challenges to trading across borders is dealing with foreign currencies. And yet, with global supply chains being the norm, most businesses don’t have a choice in this matter. There was a time transacting in foreign currencies meant opening multiple bank accounts in multiple countries, paying exorbitant exchange rates to convert your currency into another, being on alert for exchange rate fluctuations, and struggling with local banking guidelines in each country. But with Aspire’s Multi-Currency Account, you’ll face none of these complications and be able to pay your suppliers locally and abroad with equal ease.
With the Multi-Currency Account, you can open a business account in SGD, USD, and IDR from anywhere in the world and transact in these currencies without the need for foreign exchange. Furthermore, you can send, receive, and hold money in 30+ currencies used across more than 130 countries from a single account. Despite its many benefits, this account is affordable. Aspire’s exchange rates are three times lower than what banks charge – so you can invest the money you save on your overseas expansion. Rates are presented upfront before you transact, so you don’t have to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. There are no foreign exchange fees with local transfers. Among other money-saving features, the Multi-Currency Account doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement, which means there is no fall-below fee either. And, it supports entrepreneurship by offering start-ups a free one-year trial.
For a business to grow and compete across borders, it needs to be able to source from the best suppliers across the globe. Your fintech stack shouldn’t prevent you from doing that. Aspire’s Multi-Currency Account not only eases your international transactions, it even helps you manage and monitor your finances across subsidiaries and regional offices through one powerful account.
As your business grows, so will its financial operations. Effectively performing these on an international scale is demanding. But these Aspire product can make your global growth journey smoother and more productive:
When you take your business global, you need effective expense management, which means improving the way you spend your money to get maximum mileage out of it. Aspire’s Spend Management helps you accomplish this in three steps. First, it helps you distribute your spending power with unlimited corporate cards, so your regional teams can transact independently and close deals without delay. Second, it keeps a tight lid on overspending as you retain control and visibility over your teams’ spend. You can track their most recent transactions, set spend limits, and do a lot more by simply clicking on the Aspire mobile app. Third, Spend Management inspires smart spending through budgeting. You can create budgets at project, team, region, and branch levels, set spend limits and other controls, and create approval flows for greater efficiency. You can also assign budget owners, holding them accountable for their actions and increasing their motivation to succeed.
Invoicing problems are common while running a business, more so if you’re in global expansion mode and your invoicing processes aren’t automated. Paper invoices are prone to human error and easy to lose, which translates to time lost correcting and finding them. Manual approval and payment processes tend to cause delays and bottlenecks, adversely impacting your relationship with your suppliers and affecting your profitability. But managing your accounts payables need not be such a challenge. With Aspire’s Payables Management, say good riddance to error-ridden manual data entry and upload thousands of invoices instantly via email forwards, drag-and-drop image files, and simple text CSV files. You can also save time and improve efficiency with automated approvals and integrated payments, even when operating remotely. As your business grows globally, so will its invoices. Spend Management supports bulk payments, so you are never behind on your payables no matter how many. You can also set scheduled payments, so you never have to worry about your suppliers receiving their money late due to time differences. However, what if your fintech stack boasts of all these great features but you’re still going to miss a payment deadline because of a sudden cash crunch? Aspire has a solution to that problem too. It’s called Advance Transfers, and it means that we will pay your supplier today and you can pay us back on a later date. What’s even better is that you’ll receive the advance in the currency of your choice (no FX hassles) and it’s interest-free if you repay us within 51 days.
Many global growth plans sink due to cash flow problems, which is why businesses aspiring to go international must ensure they get paid on time. Many businesses that face payment delays hesitate to follow up with customers for fear of losing business in a new market. This is not how a company aspiring for global growth is run. But what if we told you that Aspire’s Receivables Management helps you get paid faster by 14 days on average? The integrated invoicing feature helps you create, send, and manage professional invoices and set payment reminders. And when you get paid, you’ll receive a notification immediately. Remember, the first step to getting paid on time is to send your invoices out on time. A business that’s growing globally must also prioritise its customers’ preferences and give them multiple payment options. And don’t forget, payment preferences can differ widely from one country to another. While it can be difficult to keep track of all these payment collection avenues, Aspire eases the process. It allows you to segregate each revenue stream and simultaneously get an overview of them on a centralised database, in real time. This way, you’ll know immediately which invoices have been paid and which haven’t and have a good idea about the state of your receivables in each branch and region.
Taking your business global means opening branches in different countries. Keeping track of all your transactions across these regional offices from your headquarters far away can be a tall order. That’s why you need accounting integrations.
All of Aspire’s products and features come with accounting integrations. This allows you to sync your transaction data on Aspire instantly with your favourite accounting software such as Xero or Quickbooks. The result is that all financial information from your main office, regional branches, and subsidiaries is connected seamlessly. What’s more, the data is captured on a centralised dashboard and presented in an easy-to-read format so that you get a bird’s eye view of all your spend and cash flow across multiple locations.
Accounting integrations are also integral to keeping your financial data fresh and reliable. This is achieved through automation. For example, when you receive a payment on Aspire, the corresponding invoice is automatically and instantly reconciled. You’ll also receive hourly updates of your finances in real time. Automation also reduces errors – Aspire, for example, prevents double uploads. With accurate and up-to-date financial data, you can easily make informed decisions that help your business conquer new territory.
It’s a given that a business that wants to go global needs ready funds. But it’s not always easy to receive funding, especially if you are a small entity. As we mentioned earlier, traditional financial institutions are wary about lending to SMes and start-ups and even if they do, they demand hefty collateral that the businesses usually don’t have. However, with Aspire Advance Card, you can still get the financial help you need when you need it and pursue your international dreams. This powerful corporate card comes with a credit limit for businesses looking to scale. You can apply online with minimum documentation and no personal guarantee, minimum spend, and deposit requirements. You will receive the funds in the currency of your choice. Currently, the Advance Card supports 15+ currencies. This eliminates the need for currency conversion, resulting in more savings for you. No interest is charged on the credit for the first 51 days. Once your business takes off in a new market and your cash flow gets healthier, you can receive a higher credit limit on your Advance Card to expand even further.
In Singapore, fintech’s star is set to shine even brighter, aided by government support and regulation. In such an environment, it’s only right to ride the fintech wave to realise your dreams of becoming a globally relevant business – with a little help from Aspire, of course.