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How US Shoppers Continue To Support Small Businesses

Americans enjoy shopping. According to an analysis from Internet Retailer based on U.S. Commerce Department retail sales figures, total retail sales, exclusive of fuel, automobiles, and restaurants, exceeded $3.6 trillion last year, up 4.1% versus 2017.

Americans especially love to shop online. Not a huge surprise, e-commerce retail sales continued their double-digit growth in 2018, jumping 15% from just under $450 billion to over $517 billion. While e-commerce retail still only represents 14.3% of total annual retail sales, what’s more interesting is that e-commerce sales represented over half (just shy of 52%) of all retail sales growth in 2018.

Americans love Amazon.com. Internet Retailer estimates that the cumulative total volume of Amazon transactions (marketplace sellers and Amazon products) exceeded $206.8 billion last year, which equates to 40% of all U.S. online retail.

Small businesses (SBs) are also key for Amazon. According to a company press release, third-party merchandise sales, which is primarily SBs, exceeded $160 billion in sales in 2018, representing some 50% of units sold in Amazon sales. Admittedly outpacing first-party sales on both Amazon and across U.S. retailers. SBs are also key to the U.S. economy. With over 28 million small businesses in the U.S. and approximately 600,000 new ‘starts’ each year, small businesses represent over 97% of all businesses in the U.S. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 50 percent of people either own or work for a SB and SBs create about two-thirds of all new jobs annually, with retail representing just over 35% of total small business employment.

Over the past several years, there’s been a real movement to promote shopping at small businesses in the U.S. In 2010, American Express launched its Small Business Saturday® program, which was designed to get people shopping locally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, during what is one of the biggest shopping periods of the year. 2018 marked the ninth annual Small Business Saturday, bringing in an estimated record $17.8 billion in sales from local businesses in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico1. Over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 20102 — that’s $103 billion over 9 days alone.
What started as a day to celebrate small businesses, Small Business Saturday is now a nationwide movement encouraging people to Shop Small® every day. Participating in the Shop Small Movement is a great way for small businesses to reach new customers and to promote their business. And American Express not only promotes the event to create consumer awareness, but they also have a variety of free downloadable marketing materials (such as badges, social posts, blog posts, and digital banners) and free signage for brick and mortar businesses. Additionally, as an American Express accepting merchant, you could get recommended for free to Card Members who are more likely to spend at your business. In 2018, nearly 17 million people received recommendations on where to shop3. Learn more at americanexpress.com/promoteyourbusiness.
Thanks to programs like Shop Small, small businesses are back and here to stay.

This article is brought to you by American Express.

How Generation Z Pays During Checkout

The desire for alternative payment systems is particularly strong in younger consumers. For over two decades, making an online payment was a candid choice: card or digital wallet?
But while these two payment systems remain available to this day, the landscape has shifted considerably. From in-app payments to mobile wallets, prepaid vouchers, and even online cash, the increase of smartphones and digital technologies has created more and more ways to pay, providing users with convenience, flexibility, and choice.
More importantly, customers are now securely in the driver’s seat. They no longer have to pay using one of the methods merchants offer. Instead, they expect to use their favored payment method. And they’ll move on to another merchant if this isn’t available.

The revolution is generational.
According to our latest research, where more traditional customers remain more prepared to pay with their card and using a digital wallet as a backup, younger customers are welcoming a wider range of ways to pay.
This holds particularly true for Gen Z i.e. consumers aged 24 or under. Our research found that less than half of Gen Z consumers — 39% — regularly pay online with a credit card compared to 49% of other consumers.
By contrast:
40% habitually use in-app payments
34% habitually pay with a mobile wallet
29% regularly pay with online cash
25% habitually use prepaid vouchers or pins
But the trend isn’t just limited to Gen Z.
Millennials — consumers aged 25 to 39 — use alternative payment methods just as often at Gen Z. The only notable differences are that Millennials have a slightly higher inclination for online cash payments (30%) and a lower liking towards prepaid vouchers and pins (23%).
In comparison, the popularity of alternative payment methods is much lower for customers over the age of 40. Only 24% of Gen X (consumers aged 40 to 54) habitually use in-app payments, for instance. And even fewer Baby Boomers (consumers aged 55 to 74) use them — 16%.

Why consumers under 40 are choosing alternative payment methods
Younger customers are adopting alternatives, while older consumers are sticking with more conventional online payment methods.
There’s no denying that more youthful consumers — and especially Gen Z — are more aware of alternative payments. Case in point, our research found that 83% of Gen Z consumers have heard of mobile wallets, while 84% have heard of in-app payments. But while more comprehensive awareness surely plays a part in driving adoption — consumers can’t use a payment method if they’ve never heard of it — it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Indeed, the argument that more Gen Z consumers use alternative payment methods because they’re more aware of their existence doesn’t always hold water. Consider this. While only 57% of Gen Xers and 49% of Baby Boomers have heard of prepaid vouchers and pins, for instance, awareness of mobile wallets is high across the board. 83% of Gen Xers — just 1% less than Gen Zers — have heard of them. And 79% of Baby Boomers have also heard of them. Yet, only 24% of Gen Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers regularly pay with a mobile wallet. So what other factors might be affecting payment choices?

Old habits
While there can’t be appropriation without knowledge, different generations also have differing attitudes to finance and technology. And this unquestionably influences their choice of payment methods.
Case in point, where 60% of Gen Xers use a smartphone daily, they also use credit cards more profoundly than any other generation. This could be because they came of age at a time when it was easier to get a credit card. But it’s probably also due to their attitude towards online security — according to a LastPass study, 79% of Gen Xers worry that they’ll be hacked.
By contrast, even though Baby Boomers have been slower to adopt new technologies, those that have done so are as enthusiastic about it as younger generations. The problem is that they’re comfortable with credit cards and digital wallets, so they don’t see why they should use alternatives. A Pew Research Centre study, for example, found that 43% of Baby Boomers don’t use mobile payments solely because they prefer to pay using other methods.
In comparison — and because they’re digital natives — Millennials and Gen Z are more content with tech and, so, more open to trying new technologies. At the same time, the younger customers of today have a harder time getting access to credit cards, and this may also be pushing them further towards alternative payment methods.

The future of online payments
Whatever the motives why younger customers prefer alternative payment methods, it’s clear that offering just card and digital wallet payments at the online checkout is no longer going to cut it. By 2020, 40% of consumers will belong to Gen Z. And this means merchants who don’t start offering more choices at the checkout risk losing a sizeable chunk of business. At the same time, our research shows that more and more consumers of all ages are waking up to the benefits of alternative payments. Moving forward, the advice for merchants couldn’t be more clear if you want to attract and engage more customers, offering more payment choices.

For more information on how we can help you offer more payment options visit our Partner Page https://btrpay.com/agent-iso-partner-program/

What’s Next For The Payments Industry?

2019 was an impressive year for the payments industry; tech innovation and the changing perspectives and expectations of customers and businesses continue to reshape the aspect of both physical and digital commerce. Due to the recent pandemic, we expect the evolution of payment services to continue; some of the key trends that emerged last year will become even more prominent. We predict the following will play a significant part in determining the future of payments in 2020.

NFC /Contactless Payment

Coming into 2019, the US market was years behind many nations in the world in the adoption of contactless (NFC enabled) debit and credit cards. There is a collective effort on the part of consumers and banks to correct this due to COVID-19; Visa is predicting that over 100 million NFC enabled cards will be in circulation in the US by the end of 2020.
In addition to the release of contactless cards, one needle-mover may be the growth of the Visa Ready for Transit program. In the UK, it was the introduction of contactless payments to the London Underground that sparked a notable increase in adoption; and over three million contactless payments have been made since the contactless payments pilot was started on many subway services in New York in June 2019. The number of routes will increase in New York as well as launching in San Francisco and Boston in 2020. Merchants are ready for the change, and the consumers are demanding it. Contactless payment is here to stay as we are fully aware of how COVID-19 spreads.

The constant rise of omnichannel payments

As small businesses try to keep up with their online competitors, they are coming under an increased requirement to deliver the same user experience customers receive online and at the checkout, this means offering the same breadth of payment options, and user experience.
This is one reason that we will continue to see more omnichannel payment initiatives launching in the coming months. Another reason is that consumer purchasing habits are changing, preferring a more blended experience of online and offline interactions. Keeping cards on file, the growth of mobile payments, and improvement in mPOS technology payments are continuing to merge.

Consumers demand invisible payments.

Offline, consumers are frequently comfortable with the concept of invisible payments. Apps such as Uber, where a consumer receives an experience and can walk away without having to worry about payment, receipts, tips, and change, have redefined best-practice for seamless payments. Similarly to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Go continues to grab the notice of shoppers; 16 stores are now open in the US, and Amazon has said that there will be a massive scale expansion in 2020. And several start-ups are replicating the Amazon model.
As these types of payments become more commonplace in 2020, consumers will increasingly demand this exciting new way to pay. Expect the number of real-world retailers and assistance providers looking to imitate this model to increase substantially in the next 12 months.

Moving beyond two-factor authentication

The deadline for implementing Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) has been pushed to December 2020, but that has not prevented biometric authentication for payments from growing in importance. In Lost in Transaction: The end of risk? 48% of consumers told us that they had authenticated a payment using fingerprint, facial recognition, or voice-activated technology. Among consumers aged 18-24, adoption rates are significantly higher (69%). But this isn’t the end of the online payment authentication course. As users continue to demand more security and, at the same time, frequently frictionless checkouts, technologies that leverage other more passive authentication factors such a location, time of transaction, and even predicted behavior will come to the fore. And there will be even more exciting developments in the next year on top of these, but surely, this gives you a taste of what we’re expecting to see take the payments world by storm in the next 12 months.

For more information on NFC/Contactless secure devices that are ready for the future, contact us at 877-423-8637

Paycheck Protection Program Loans For Self-Employed 1099 Agents

The brand-new Paycheck Protection Program was recently created to support American companies with immediate cash relief during this pandemic. If you are a sole proprietor, an independent contractor, or any that files a 1099 from, here’s what you need to know to apply.

Who Qualifies For The Payment Protection Program.

Sole Proprietors who report income and pay taxes on their Schedule C on their tax return.

Independent Contractors who collect 1099-MISC forms.

Sharing Economy Workers who take jobs provided by companies such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and Instacart.
The only requirement is that your company was operational as of February 15, 2020. If you started your business after that date, you would not be eligible for this program.

What If You Don’t Use A Payroll Service?
If you own a company and do not give yourself a wage through a payroll service, you are likely still suitable for the Paycheck Protection Program—with one exemption. Companies that are structured as C corporations or S corporations must use payroll to pay their owners because the corporation is taxed independently from the individual. If you own a corporation and have not been paying yourself a salary through payroll, you will not have a salary covered through the PPP. This is because distributions or proceeds from a corporation are not considered to be a salary or self-employment income. Payments also made to contractors aren’t considered payroll and aren’t eligible under the PPP.

Sole Proprietors And The Paycheck Protection Program
If you run a company on your own, your business is a sole proprietorship— even if you haven’t formally let the IRS know.
Since you don’t have workers, you won’t be reporting your payroll expenses for the PPP loan. Instead, you’ll be reporting your net business income, which will be documented on your Schedule C. As long as your business was operational before February 15 of this year, you can apply to the Paycheck Protection Program.

According to the U.S. Treasury, “regardless of filing a 2019 tax return with the IRS, you must provide the 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C with your PPP loan application.”
If you’ve previously filed your taxes, this should be simple: just submit your Schedule C to your lender. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you will likely need to get retroactive bookkeeping done so you can calculate your net income and fill out your Schedule C appropriately.
If you don’t have bookkeeping or a tax return, we strongly recommend that you get caught up with your bookkeeping. Without a payroll service, bookkeeping is the best way to determine your profit as a sole proprietor

What will the Paycheck Protection Program Ask For?
Your monthly average payroll cost will be your annual net profit divided by 12. If your annual net profit is over $100,000, you may only declare up to $100,000 divided by 12.
Sole Proprietors Who Are Married
If you run a sole proprietorship informally with a spouse, you will only apply to the Paycheck Protection Program once, and your spouse would not be considered to have a salary through the company unless he or she was paid as a contractor before February 15, 2020.
If you own more than one sole proprietorship, you may apply separately for each – but exclusively if these sole proprietorships have separate EINs. The standard rule of thumb is that you can apply individually for as many businesses you own that have different identification numbers or separate tax reporting. You may apply for the Paycheck Protection Program once with your SSN as a sole proprietor, and then separately for any other businesses you own using their EINs.
Independent Contractors And The Paycheck Protection Program
If you work as a 1099 independent contractor, you are by omission considered to be a sole proprietor in the eyes of the IRS. This means your freelance earnings get reported annually on a Schedule C within your tax return. You will have a Schedule C even if you pick up odd jobs or do freelance work, and this Schedule is based on the 1099-MISC forms you collect from the companies or individuals who have hired you as a contractor.

Proof Of Income
The lender will want to see all documents related to any wages, commission, income, or net earnings from self-employment that you have received. This indicates that you’ll need to accumulate any earnings reports, pay stubs, or invoices you have.

Sole Proprietorships will need to submit a Schedule C from their 2019 tax return filed (or to be filed), showing income and expenses from the sole proprietorship.

Independent Contractors will need to submit schedules from their 2019 tax return filed (or to be filed) as well as Form 1099-MISC from 2019.

All Self-Employed Individuals will need to submit 2019 payroll tax filings reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
Rent, Mortgage, And Utility expense
The Paycheck Protection Program funding can cover your office lease, rent, or mortgage interest, provided that you had it before February 15 2020. If you have a home office, you can claim a portion of the expenses (the percentage of your home that’s used as a home office).
Again, collect any paid invoices, statements, lease agreements, or canceled checks that will help prove you had these expenses.
However, if you want to have your loan forgiven, you must spend 75% of the loan funds on payroll costs (and the remaning 25% on rent, mortgage interest, and utilities).
If you’re a sole proprietor, 75% of the loan acts as a straight replacement for lost profit and doesn’t need to be spent in a particular way. The remaining 25% must be spent on mortgage interest, rent and lease payments, and utilities in order to be forgiven.

When Does The Application Open?
Sole proprietorships can start to apply on April 3.
Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can also start to apply on April 10.
You are encouraged to apply early as there is a funding cap for this program. You have until June 30 to apply.

How do I apply?
You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through an SBA-backed lender. We recommend applying through your own financial institution to start—a lender you already have an existing banking relationship with. That will be the fastest way to get approved.
Next, we recommend applying for PPP through a community bank. They have less demand and will likely be able to process you faster.
Here is the PPP application form from the U.S. treasury, indicating which information you’ll be expected to present to your bank.
Financial Records You’ll Need
You’ll need to provide payroll/bookkeeping records to prove your payroll expenses.
That could include:
Payroll processor records
Payroll tax filings
Form 1099-MISC records
Schedule C for a sole proprietorship
If you don’t have access to those kinds of documents, you can also provide bank records.
If You Own More Than One Business
We are also learning that entrepreneurs who own more than one company are having trouble getting relief funding when their businesses don’t have cleanly divided finances. If you own more than one business, it’s important to get separate bookkeeping done for each company. This will become essential when it comes time to prove your expenses for loan forgiveness.

For bookkeeping help, please visit our partner page for more information.
https://bench.co/partner/betterpay/

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When a merchant signs on with an Agent, their payments are processed through whichever processor the ISO is representing, and the Agent, in turn, earns a small commission on each transaction. Those commissions are known as residuals; as a result, the commissions earned on each transaction are tiny percentages, they can add up over thousands or […]

Soon as the holiday season or some occasion nears, sales figures suddenly start to grow greatly in numbers. But as the season or occasion passes, the sales suddenly go down. This slump in sales is very common regardless the nature and product of the business. We say this so surely because we, being a payment […]

The advancements in technology, over the last few decades, have completely revolutionized and evolved our shopping experiences. We can now buy anything we want, from any part of the world, without even getting up from the couch in the living room. This shopping revolution is mostly due to the multiple payment options that many stores […]

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