B2B Payments

Small Firms Up Global Trade Volume Despite FX Threats

New data from WorldFirst shows small businesses (SMBs) in the U.K. are pressing past threats looming from Brexit and increasing their global trade volumes.

The data, published Thursday (Aug. 2) on the WorldFirst blog, revealed that nearly one-third of the 1,000 small businesses surveyed said they made at least one foreign transaction every month in 2018’s second quarter, a 6 percent increase from Q1 stats. Most mid-sized firms (52 percent) transacted across borders, compared to just 37 percent of mid-sized firms that engaged in global business in the first quarter.

Researchers calculated a nearly 25 percent increase in average cross-border transfer values for SMBs compared to 2016 data.

Despite the looming threat of Brexit, U.K. SMBs are engaging in heavy trade with Europe, though the U.S. remains the top trading partner for the market.

According to WorldFirst, SMBs remain confident in their plans for international operations, with 29 percent expecting revenue growth from overseas in the coming quarter. More than one quarter of SMBs surveyed expect to export to a new market in the coming months, a 3 percent increase from the first quarter.

Despite this rise in cross-border trade, small businesses are indeed worried about Brexit. The portion of SMBs that said they were not concerned with the potential for Brexit to have a negative impact on their businesses fell from 44 percent to 28 percent.

“After a disappointing 2017 (where the number of businesses trading internationally halved), many have made a return to overseas markets in the last quarter,” said WorldFirst Chief Economist Jeremy Thomson-Cook in a statement. “Over 1.8 million small and medium-sized businesses are now doing business abroad. However, as we watch and wait for Theresa May and the government to forge a path for the country post-Brexit, [SMBs] are worried, too. Businesses have done a good job thus far of carrying on regardless, but they can’t do it forever in the face of such political uncertainty.”

He added that it will be critical for small businesses to establish a strategy for risk management in the third quarter to mitigate FX volatility risk.

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