Embedded Finance Being Leveraged By SMBs as Traditional Banks Fall Short – Report

Airwallex, a global payments and financial platform for modern businesses, announced a new global survey that revealed surging demand for cloud-based financial services “with more than 80 per cent of SMBs looking to switch away from traditional banks for their payment needs.”

The report, jointly produced by consultancy Edgar, Dunn & Company and Airwallex, uncovers the financial services pain points “faced by SMBs which can limit their ability to operate and grow globally.”

The data shows that 82 per cent of SMBs globally (86 per cent in the UK and US) feel overlooked “by banks and would change their current banking provider if their existing software platform or marketplace offered a like-for-like alternative.”

The services SMBs would be “open to accessing include cross-border payments collection and payouts, business bank accounts, foreign exchange, and treasury.”

The findings demonstrate a clear opportunity “for software platforms or marketplaces such as eCommerce, customer relationship management (CRM,) or expense management platforms to better serve SMB customers, and create new revenue streams by offering embedded financial services – particularly when it comes to global money movement and payments.”

SMBs face a number of inefficiencies when “receiving payments from abroad, including lengthy processing and settlement times (45 per cent), an issue particularly felt in Singapore (52 per cent) and Australia (52 per cent).”

Forced currency conversion leading “to high transaction fees is the second most commonly cited issue (41 per cent) and is particularly felt by UK-based SMBs (45 per cent).”

SMBs are also experiencing challenges “when paying out funds to vendors, suppliers and employees, including delays in processing and disbursing payments (48 per cent) — rising to 58 per cent in Australia. Complexity in managing multiple payout methods and currencies is also a challenge globally for SMBs (47 per cent), rising to 57 per cent in Singapore.”

To overcome the numerous pain points in cross-border payments, businesses “can better manage the process by embedding an end-to-end payment processing system.”

On average, 81 per cent of SMBs globally rely “on traditional banks to access financial services, but historically these institutions overlook the particular needs of SMBs within certain industries, providing unsuitable, standardized products.”

Traditional banks are considered least likely “to meet the financial services needs of SMBs (44 per cent), whereas 64 per cent of respondents believe software platforms or marketplaces that offer embedded financial services can better serve them.”

SMBs will pay more for a one-stop-shop provider

SMBs in China (93 per cent) and the US (88 per cent) showed “the highest appetite to access financial services through their existing software providers.”


The research was commissioned by Airwallex and “carried out by consulting firm Edgar, Dunn & Company during Q3 2023.”

Insights come from two primary sources, “a global survey of 1,000 SMBs in the US, UK, China, Australia and Singapore, and interviews with leading software platforms.”

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