Embedded finance is often defined as financial services on the consumers’ terms. This amalgamation of traditional financial services with non-financial companies creates seamless experiences for customers by streamlining their access to services like payments, loans, and accounts – but it isn’t the only type of embedded system making a wave out there.
The battle for customer loyalty and retention online has also prompted a demand for value-added services to be embedded into their experiences – such as fraud management, know-your-customer, compliance, insurance, and loyalty rewards. By plugging non-traditional offerings into their platforms using APIs and harnessing the “better together” proposition, businesses can enhance the customer journey by creating new value for them.
Not so long ago the high street was king when it came to shopping. Businesses could peddle their wares in physical stores without worrying much about creating new value for their customers – for whom choice was limited compared to today. The exponential growth of the internet this century has not only sounded the death knell for the high street following a shift online; it has reshaped the battlefield for customer loyalty and retention amid an explosion in competition and changing demands.
For a business to appeal to new and existing customers and remain competitive in a crowded online marketplace, it must think beyond its core offering and add value to the relationship. One way to achieve this is to offer auxiliary services that customers will find valuable and will complement their core services.
Take banks for example, which have traditionally had a myopic view of service provision. Having spent decades building their products and services and offering one-stop banking for small businesses and personal customers, they have become hampered by a siloed approach that’s no longer viable. The modern consumer wants a relationship with their bank that extends beyond standard transactions and balance checking to the integration of complementary services – and the fintech disruptor banks are showing the legacy players the way.
As businesses are required to work increasingly hard to compete online, they must think outside the box and consider value-added services – or risk losing customers. A value-added service is a feature that can be embedded into a core product to enhance the user experience or a service that can function as a standalone product or feature – and they’ve become fundamental to customer loyalty and retention in the highly competitive online business world.
The fintechs that are driving the growth of embedded value-added services excel at understanding the customer and creating offerings specific to their requirements. This valuable insight is reimagining the scope of the businesses they support. With their blinkers removed, these businesses don’t have to rely on generic one-size-fits-all bolt-ons; they can embrace additional services that are complementary and add value to their customer’s experience.
Examples of embedded value-added services that are helping to complement businesses’ core offering include:
By focusing on their customer needs and embedding value-added services, businesses can strengthen existing relationships and build new ones – and the benefits are compelling: customer loyalty, customer retention, competitive advantage, stimulates demand for core products and services and can generate additional revenue.
The value-added proposition is not a rigid selection of services that businesses are forced to choose from; it’s a dynamic process that can be tailored to meet their customer’s unique requirements. This fluid landscape means existing value-added services are constantly being enhanced and new services are being developed and embedded into the native customer journey.
Embedded loyalty programmes that offer consumers rewards and incentives such as discounts, vouchers, cashback, and reward points are a prime example of how this constant evolution is driving growth: the number of loyalty programme memberships is forecast to grow by 33% from 24 billion worldwide in 2022 to more than 32 billion in 2026. It’s a similar story in the mobile embedded value-added services market – services offered by telecom providers to customers beyond core services like SMS, voice, and data – which was valued at $655 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach a value of $1133.85 billion by 2029.
The benefits of embedded finance – the seamless integration of financial services by non-financial companies into their digital experience to deliver new, innovative, and streamlined customer experiences – are typically viewed through a B2C lens. But the scope of this finance revolution extends beyond reducing the friction that impedes online financial transactions to breathing new life into ambitious businesses admin processes.
Embedded business management uses the banking-like services offered by nonbanks model to embed a different kind of convenient service into a business’s infrastructure: accounting tools.
According to research by salary benchmarking site Emolument, the accounting profession ranks fifth in a roundup of the most boring jobs. It might be yawn-inducing, but this crunching of numbers is vital to the successful operation of a business – and must move with the times to be effective. Traditional manual accounting processes have evolved during the digital revolution from physical books using a written ledger of transactions to spreadsheets. But even these electric documents can become confusing, time-consuming, and error-strewn – making them outdated amid the emergence of embedded business management.
As a business grows, its financial data evolves with it, becoming more complex and increasing in volume. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) typically don’t have the resources to create a dedicated function to conduct laborious – but vital – accounting processes. This leaves them with three options: conduct them in-house when there’s time, exposing the business to errors and delays; outsource them to an expensive third-party provider, placing strain on tight budgets; or think beyond antiquated accounting methods by embedding them into the business infrastructure.
Embedded business management empowers SMEs to focus on what they care about most without worrying about the admin, which is automated and consistent. This means less effort, less time and lower costs when running a business compared to using clunky manual processes. Unshackled from repetitive admin and time-consuming processes, business owners can use their resources more proactively.
This subset of embedded finance has many beneficial branches of its own: from embedded payroll that allows business owners to set a single pay rate, to embedded bank feeds that automatically appear in accounting software, to embedded accounts payable that automate purchase orders when stock levels hit certain limits.
These core functions are often delivered using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud solution: a suite of integrated applications that collect, store, manage and interpret data to gain resilience and real-time agility – and position for growth.
Examples of popular embedded business management experiences that are helping to streamline SMEs’ accounting processes include:
Embedded business management functionality is brimming with benefits:
Research by Bain Capital suggests that payments and lending will continue to be the largest embedded financial services but will be bolstered by the growth of adjacent value-added services, including tax and accounting. As the pace at which organisations transition to digital-first admin processes continues to accelerate, embedded business management functionality will become ubiquitous across the business landscape.
Check out our final instalment of the embedded ecosystem blog series – Embedded value-added services – which will look at how nonbank financial services companies can embed things like insurance into their service offerings and how it’s become instrumental in increasing customer loyalty.
If you want to learn more about partnering with Liberis, feel free to get in touch.
Born out of a desire to disrupt the traditional banking model in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, challenger banks – or neobanks – kicked off the finance revolution. This disruptive rebellion has inspired another new breed of provider to take to the banking battlefield and challenge the old guard across a broad spectrum of services: non-financial organisations.
Empowered by the rise of embedded finance – the integration of traditional financial services or tools within a non-financial organisation’s infrastructure – businesses and their customers are benefitting from streamlined financial processes that reduce friction when accessing products and services online. Today, embedded finance pervades online transactions – but you might not even realise you are benefitting from it because of its power to smooth the customer experience.
A subset of this new distributed approach to providing financial services eliminates the need to rely on high-cost third parties – typically a financial institution – within the lending process: embedded lending.
There was a time – not so long ago – when you had to arrange a meeting with your bank manager and physically go into your local branch to apply for a loan. The lack of lending options meant banks – which held the monopoly over the lending space – were judge and jury of who was creditworthy. While the internet has given rise to a new wave of digital lending options – and diluted the role of the bank manager – traditional financial institutions continue to rely on outdated, labour-intensive legacy processes and narrow credit-decision criteria.
Take small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for which restricted cash flow can be an existential threat. According to the World Trade Organisation, they represent over 90% of businesses and 60-70% of employment worldwide. Despite the vital role they play in economies across the globe, many struggle to access the funding they need to keep operating and growing.
Traditional institutions’ rigid lending framework prevents SMEs from accessing capital because they are considered too risky. This myopic view stems from a range of factors that are typical among them, including:
These lending hurdles are exacerbated by the banks’ clunky and costly client support infrastructure and convoluted application and assessment processes. Even if a loan is eventually authorised amid these time-consuming constraints, it might be too late for an SME that has a time-critical need for capital.
Embedded lending gained traction in the face of pandemic-induced lockdowns that shuttered businesses and strangled household incomes; a trend that has been perpetuated by a general demand for a frictionless, digital-first lending experience. This process of integrating credit or financing products into non-financial businesses, such as online retailers or marketplaces, allows customers to access finance at the point of need from a non-financial brand they trust – removing any interaction with a bank or other lender.
Using a customisable API (Application Programming Interface) or white label solution, digital brands can integrate embedded lending options into their technology ecosystem or e-commerce platform. This dynamic offering can be tailored to meet their specific customer needs, ensuring brand integrity remains intact. The entire lending process subsequently becomes faster, simpler, and frictionless, allowing applicants to focus on using the funds, rather than applying for them.
This convenience fosters the point of need access to capital that SMEs crave, improving their cashflow management; while consumers can access flexible payment structures that enhance their online transaction experience. Embedded lending’s innate ability to provide businesses and individuals with access to useful, affordable and responsible lending products and services underscores the role it plays in driving financial inclusion.
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is an example of B2C embedded lending: a type of short-term financing that allows consumers to make purchases and pay for them at a future date. For example, Clearpay is a payment service that lends customers a fixed amount of credit to make purchases instantly before paying for them in four interest-free automatic instalments, made every two weeks.
Revenue-based finance is an example of B2B embedded lending: an alternative funding option that allows SMEs to access funding based on their overall business revenue – not just their credit history. For example, Liberis offers a revenue-based lending model driven by an intelligent data engine that automatically forecasts business transaction revenues and makes a personalised and preapproved offer – with 70% of businesses receiving their funding in less than 48 hours.
The benefits of embedded lending are being felt throughout the modern lending ecosystem: businesses and retail customers benefit from a seamless lending experience that unlocks access to funds quickly and cost-effectively; brands that embrace it benefit from a competitive advantage by augmenting and enhancing their offering; and innovative lenders are ‘inserted’ into the moment the customer identifies a funding requirement.
According to a World Bank report, the world’s SMEs have unmet finance needs of approximately $5.2 trillion a year, around 1.5 times the current lending market for businesses of this size. Against this backdrop of escalating demand for finance without friction, embedded lending is well-placed to go from strength to strength. For example, the proliferation of BNPL within the B2C space has inspired e-commerce platforms to offer lending solutions to their business customers in the UK – a trend that is expected to gather pace.
Research by Bain Capital estimates that by 2021 around $12 billion in B2B loan transactions were made via embedded finance, which it expects to increase exponentially to between $50 billion and $75 billion by 2026.
Driven by increased customer loyalty and brand value, embedded lending in the B2C space has rapidly evolved from a burgeoning value-added service into a ubiquitous facilitator of streamlined lending experiences. According to Bain Capital, around 10% of point-of-sale transactions are made via embedded finance, resulting in a transaction value of around $43 billion. By 2026, this market is expected to grow to between $80 billion and $90 billion – and there won’t be a bank manager in sight.
Check out our blog on embedded business management. Many small businesses don’t have the resources to create separate functions for important tasks like accounting. Embedded business management is the part of the ecosystem that can accommodate this allowing small business owners to focus on what they do best, growing their businesses.
If you want to learn more about partnering with Liberis, feel free to get in touch.
Astonishingly, customer-centricity – an approach to doing business that focuses on providing a positive customer experience at the point of sale to drive profit and gain competitive advantage – has traditionally been an afterthought when delivering financial interactions. This short-sighted outlook left consumers resigned to their fate: to accept the disconnect between themselves and the company they’re doing business with; a gap that’s bridged by a third-party bank they are redirected to, creating an extra layer of friction.
This clunky process is increasingly unacceptable in the modern financial services landscape, where tradition has been replaced by innovation – and customer-centricity is a prerequisite. Embedded finance has disrupted the involvement of third parties through the disintermediation of financial interactions. This seamless integration of financial services by non-financial companies into their infrastructure is not limited to streamlining the payments process; other core interactions have been enhanced by embedding them behind these organisations’ apps and websites, including bank accounts – known as embedded deposits or embedded banking.
Customer retention has never been a huge concern for traditional high-street banks – until now. Their general model is simple and effective: get someone to create an account when they’re young and assume they will bank with them for life because the hassle of changing to another similar high-street institution isn’t worth it.
With their choice restricted to a few brick-and-mortar providers that held a monopoly over the banking space – and offered the same services under different brands – consumers’ access to financial services was limited. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, however, the tide has turned amid the emergence of a broad set of tech-driven financial companies (fintechs). This new breed of provider aims to fundamentally address outdated financial services by offering access to innovation that supersedes the traditional methods used by incumbent banks – a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic after consumers’ reliance on online functionality increased profoundly.
The conventional banking infrastructures flaws have been amplified in the face of this fintech revolution: slow in undertaking digital transformation, legacy infrastructure that lacks agility, strict regulatory standards, poor customer service, and the emergence of disruptive banking models.
Throw in the odd scandal – notably Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-selling – that’s dented the public’s faith in them, and the banks’ grip on the industry has been prized loose. Take TSB for example, which in November 2021 announced that it was shutting 70 bank branches across the UK the following year as more customers switch to online.
The emergence of disruptive banking models has paved the way for embedded deposits to reshape the banking landscape: the process of incorporating specific banking tools – such as debit cards and checking accounts – into non-financial companies’ products or software, forming part of a larger bundle of services. When banking is embedded into a non-bank environment, it streamlines the customer journey while building more secure, fluid experiences into the tools they already use, increasing retention. By bringing banking to the customer, it creates simple, linear journeys that can be completed without opening a banking app or website.
Examples of popular embedded deposit experiences that are helping to drive a new era of flexible banking include:
While fintechs still dominate the conversation, banks are starting to engage in the embedded banking space. Once considered upstarts in this previously rigid sector, the banks are viewing fintechs as potential co-collaborators to help establish their own digital footprints – commonly known as banking-as-a-service (BaaS). For banks, this can open the door to new revenue streams and expansion into unbanked customer segments. But there is still a long way to go for these traditional players: according to the 2021 Economist Impact report, a little over a quarter (27%) of banks and credit unions surveyed believe their organisation has the necessary technology tools – “to a great or large extent” – to create new digital products and services internally or externally.
Embedded deposits have empowered small businesses to take control of their banking. The monopoly once held by a handful of institutions in the banking space has been broken by the choice and convenience that’s inherent to fintechs. No longer an afterthought, customer-centricity is now a cornerstone of this streamlined approach to banking.
According to recent research by Finastra, embedded bank accounts and payment cards are poised for 30% growth by 2024. This trend is echoed by Bain Capital research which estimates that by 2021, US consumers and businesses spent $3.60 trillion on their debit cards and $3.55 trillion
on their credit cards – with 3% and 4% of these transactions for debit cards and less than 1% for
credit cards, conducted using embedded banking services. By 2026, Bain Capital predicts that the nonfinancial services market penetration for debit cards could increase fivefold to around 15%.
Check out our blog on embedded lending (our speciality) and how it has changed how businesses and consumers can obtain more flexible finance options that traditional banks and lenders have been unable to provide.
If you want to learn more about partnering with Liberis, feel free to get in touch.
Put simply, embedded finance refers to banking-like services offered by nonbanks. This seamless integration of financial services by non-financial companies is a reaction to consumers’ demand for a more digital-first experience, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. One branch of this vast finance revolution has the power to streamline the previously clunky online payments process: embedded payments – but it has been a long journey to reach this inflexion point.
Legend has it that in 1994 an order for a large pepperoni pizza made history when it was placed on Pizza Hut’s new website, making it the world’s first online purchase. Three years later Coca-Cola laid claim to the first mobile payment when it allowed customers to pay for their drinks by sending text messages from their phones. Since then, online payments have become part of our everyday lives amid the exponential growth of the internet and our subsequent reliance on e-commerce.
There’s no doubt that online payments have been a game changer for businesses of all sizes – practically consigning cheques to the history books and spurring conversations about a cashless society. Take Pizza Hut for example: by 2008 its online sales topped $1 billion and by 2013 they reached $6 billion. But in an age where speed and convenience are consumer prerequisites, there is always room for improvement.
Traditionally, online payments have been handled by third parties – either large financial institutions or payment processors. This additional layer of friction means financial transactions are separate processes, with customers directed outside the service. Forced to use these third-party integrations to facilitate payments, vendors experience a disconnect with their customers, creating a disjointed user experience.
A growing expectation among e-commerce consumers that digital ecosystems should encompass every aspect of the transaction process means the middleman’s days are numbered. This has prompted an appetite among businesses for embedded payments solutions that provide the payment autonomy they need to achieve financial independence and enhance the user experience.
An embedded payments strategy – which can be tailored to businesses of all sizes – seamlessly integrates payment processing into the e-commerce shopping journey, eliminating the need for a third-party payment provider or banking service. This empowers businesses to take control of the different payment processes they are exposed to – such as wire transfers for one-off purchases of goods and services and Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions for managing direct debits – and to harness real-time payments.
With the user experience consolidated under a single brand when making payments, businesses can access a wealth of compelling benefits:
A quick look at the World Bank’s definition of financial inclusion underscores the role embedded payments play in driving this important concept: “Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.”
Accessing an autonomous payments network that seamlessly sends and receives money internationally by streamlining processes is no longer a pipe dream for businesses and consumers.
As forward-thinking organisations rethink legacy systems and invest in digital transformation, they are embracing the opportunities afforded by embedded payments – and with third-party friction removed from the equation, it’s never been easier to buy a pizza.
The embedded payments industry embodies everything good about fintech: speed, agility, flexibility, convenience – and it’s going from strength to strength amid consumer demand for streamlined processes, with revenues expected to increase from $43 billion in 2021 to $138 billion in 2026. As embedded payments become ubiquitous throughout the online payments landscape, market research firm IDC predicts that 74% of online consumer payments globally will be conducted via platforms owned by nonfinancial institutions by 2030.
Two new trends could accelerate this market growth: embedded B2B payments and the opportunity for financial institutions to work with fintech partners to support the growing demand for embedded B2B payments. The growth of banking-as-a-service and open-access APIs are presenting businesses with the ability to leverage B2B embedded financial services technology to customise payment solutions for their needs. The IDC report states that 73% of financial institutions around the world have payments infrastructures that are ill-equipped to handle payments for 2021 and beyond. Fortunately, fintech has created a new opportunity for banks to modernise their payment services.
Take a look at our blog on embedded deposits, where we discuss how they have become a central offering of non-bank financial services companies to meet the demands of their customers.
If you want to learn more about partnering with Liberis, feel free to get in touch.
What’s your name and what do you do at Liberis?
Hi! My name is Laura Wyglendacz. I’m a leader and a technologist. For the past 5-6 years my focus has been building data products.
I’m playing a few different roles at Liberis. My job title is Staff Engineer. Staff+ Engineers are individual contributors. It is a leadership role predicated on broad organisational influence and involvement. Right now I’m also managing Liberis’ data engineers in an interim Head Of role. I’m building relationships with and between teams who produce or consume data. I expect my role and job title will continue to evolve, due to Liberis’ size and lifecycle stage. My personal style is to switch between tactical and strategic modes depending on what’s required. Liberis is in growth mode, scaling up. We need to be agile and innovative to secure our place in the market. I’m helping define and build the sociotechnical* data systems to support this growth.
Sociotechnical: shorthand for the complex interactions between people and organisations, and the infrastructure and software that they build*.**
What makes you proud to work here?
Lots of things! Here are my top 2 so far:
Leaders I respect
What are your stand-out memories of working at Liberis so far?
I have only worked here for 5 months, and from my first day, I have felt welcome. It still FEELS good to work here. In some organisations, friendliness stops after a couple of weeks when your ‘new person’ status wears off, or, it is limited to your functional area.
This is super important to me. As a socially anxious person, I struggle to feel comfortable in new groups. Times of change like starting a new job are nerve-wracking for other reasons too. I’m neurodivergent and upheavals in routine and environment affect me disproportionately. The culture of social inclusion at Liberis has brought me out of my shell and helped me settle in quickly. I feel motivated to pass on that great feeling, by reaching out to connect to others more than I usually would.
I also remember being immediately inspired by people here. Regardless of job title or business function, a curiosity and drive to succeed infuses conversations at Liberis with an energy that I find motivating and exciting.
Since working here, what ways have you developed – personally and/or professionally?
I’m the kind of person who can’t put a wall between the personal and the professional. That is not to say I don’t have boundaries, but anything I spend 8+ hours a day doing would become profoundly personal to me in terms of impact on my whole life. I’ve recently experienced a few difficult years of mental and physical health challenges. The biggest contributing factor was being bullied whilst working somewhere that did not have a well-functioning People team. At Liberis I have a good support network of people and resources already. It is no exaggeration to say that it is healing to work at a company which has already demonstrated how much it values me and cares about my well-being and health.
It will be easier to develop professionally in such an environment – my people management skills are growing fast, and I’m excited about what comes next!
What makes Liberis different from anywhere else you’ve worked?
Liberis is showing strong signs of commitment to inclusion – in deed, not just in word. I have several hidden disabilities, and I’m a woman (yup, still a rarity in tech) – so this is important to me.
I’m 11-12 years into my tech career, and just about everywhere I’ve worked or interviewed at has talked big talk about being inclusive and diverse. Most of those places did not commit to making reasonable adjustments and did not do the work to avoid or challenge discriminatory practices and behaviours, either institutionally or amongst individuals.
Liberis seems different. It has engaged with my identity, my needs and my rights in an authentic and intelligent manner. It is the first place I have worked which acknowledges the urgency and importance of supporting me to be myself and to be well, by listening, learning, and taking action quickly.
What do you look forward to most in Liberis’ future?
I am very excited about seeing the future product opportunities that will be unlocked when Liberis’ investments in event-based architecture and a scalable data platform start to bear fruit.
Customer trust and loyalty have to be earned. Traditionally, businesses worked to the theory that if their product and customer experience were up to scratch, belief in their brand would be unwavering. But today’s ethically conscious consumer demands much more. They want to engage with businesses that consider the impact of their activities on employees, customers, communities, and the environment – and take actions to promote their well-being.
This recognition of the environmental and social impact of businesses has elevated social responsibility into a touchstone of customer trust and loyalty. To tap into this sentiment, small businesses must demonstrate a collective consciousness for these factors – but this doesn’t come cheap.
Investment is one of the biggest barriers to this shift to sustainability – until now. Sustainable and green lending have emerged to bridge this funding gap:
Green lending aims to redirect capital towards businesses that promote environmental sustainability. Lenders have specific eligibility criteria to identify and assess the environmental benefits of the borrower’s proposed projects or initiatives, such as implementing energy-efficient upgrades or investing in sustainable transportation.
Sustainable lending aims to support projects and initiatives that promote long-term sustainable development, taking into account the ESG impacts of the borrower. Therefore, the borrower’s eligibility for funding hinges on their sustainability performance across the three metrics: environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and good governance practices.
In contrast, traditional lending decisioning models typically focus on the borrower’s financial capacity and their historic creditworthiness. This narrow approach perpetuates invalid assumptions that small businesses are too risky to engage with – leaving them disenfranchised. It also encompasses a broader range of projects and initiatives that don’t have predetermined sustainability criteria.
Morally-centred small businesses that actively contribute to the well-being of communities and address social and environmental challenges gain a competitive edge – and the benefits are compelling: enhanced reputation and brand image, increased employee satisfaction and productivity, improved risk management, long-term sustainability, and stakeholder engagement and partnerships.
Most small businesses are entrenched in their local community and environment. This deep-rooted presence provides an opportunity to build meaningful relationships that benefit the community: they engage with local stakeholders, create jobs, stimulate economic growth, contribute to community development, and reduce unemployment rates.
A confluence of their size and passion for the local area allows them to positively impact their surroundings. Having leveraged their relationships with local stakeholders to fully understand their environmental and social impact, small businesses can adopt meaningful sustainable practices. And they are well-placed to act on their promises because they typically have greater flexibility in implementing eco-friendly measures compared to large corporations.
However, there is a common barrier to achieving social responsibility for businesses of a certain size: funding. Sustainable lending practices break down these barriers for small businesses by replacing rigid legacy lending models with ESG-related eligibility criteria – unlocking funds that have previously been beyond their grasp.
Favourable decisioning criteria will remain rudderless if small businesses are deterred from applying for sustainable or green loans in the first place by unaffordable repayment terms. Access to affordable capital for socially responsible projects is a critical factor in accelerating the transition to sustainable business practices. Sustainable and green lending initiatives typically offer favourable terms and lower interest rates, making capital more accessible and affordable for these projects.
Fluid access to affordable capital means social responsibility goals and values don’t simply remain nice ideas that don’t get off the ground. These financing channels direct money to socially responsible projects, allowing small businesses to align their funding with their ESG aims.
Financial institutions have a crucial role to play in promoting sustainable and green lending. To achieve this, they must replace antiquated lending infrastructures with accessible and affordable products – such as green bonds, green loans, and sustainability-linked loans. A fulcrum of this accessibility is their ability to establish sustainability criteria that borrowers must meet to qualify for loans.
Liberis has reinforced its commitment to responsible and sustainable investment practices by developing Cashback for Green. Inspired by the growing appetite from small businesses for green funding solutions, they have collaborated with their partners to reward customers with cashback when they invest their funding in green purchases.
The government are also key enablers of sustainable finance practices. Motivated by their sustainability targets, they have introduced lending products that will help them achieve their goals. For example, almost £5 billion of funding is available to help UK businesses become greener as part of the government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Tax benefits and incentives for adopting sustainable practices are also being leveraged by the government in their drive to sustainability, such as reliefs for buying energy-efficient technology for businesses.
Small businesses may perceive sustainable practices as expensive or believe they will increase operational costs. While these projects and initiatives can yield long-term cost savings, the initial investment or transition period may deter businesses that are focused on short-term profitability. This lack of knowledge might also cloud their understanding of the benefits of sustainable lending practices, preventing them from accessing the necessary funding amid erroneous assumptions that banks – which have a poor track record when it comes to funding small businesses – are their only option.
To plug these knowledge gaps, they must be given agency to understand the sustainable and green lending options that are available – bringing education that reflects this into sharp focus. Empowered by knowledge and understanding of these practices, they can look beyond their bank when seeking funding for sustainable initiatives.
Financial technology is driving increased adoption of sustainable finance practices by enabling greater transparency, efficiency, and accessibility of the associated products. These solutions are supporting sustainable banking practices, such as digital platforms that promote responsible investing, provide ESG ratings, and facilitate sustainable lending and payment systems. This innovation helped the market for sustainable finance to accelerate past a trillion dollars in 2021 – a meteoric rise for a sub-sector that didn’t exist a decade ago.
The financial industry is recognising that new products and services are needed to catalyse financing from the widest possible pool of borrowers – otherwise, social responsibility efforts will stagnate. Several new offerings that remain at a nascent stage have been added to the sustainable and green lending ecosystems – such as sustainable trade finance and repurchase agreements linked to ESG criteria, green scrutinization, and green leasing/lending.
ESG-driven social responsibility projects and initiatives without funding will remain impotent. They require sufficient funds to fuel a range of activities through their full lifecycle that will underpin their success: research and development, infrastructure and implementation, scale and reach, education and awareness, ongoing support and maintenance, and collaboration and partnerships.
Sustainable and green lending unlocks access to vital funds by replacing rigid decisioning models with specific eligibility criteria linked to the use of the funds and the borrower’s sustainability performance. This agile approach to lending is helping to democratise finance for small businesses, which have traditionally been sidelined by legacy lenders. Empowered to integrate social responsibility into financial decisions, these businesses are reducing their environmental footprint and enhancing their social impact – and building trust and loyalty with today’s ethically conscious consumer in the process.
What’s your name and what do you do at Liberis and where in the world do you work?
My name is Courtney Yule, and I’m a Marketing Lead based out of our London office. I work across our marketing for our UK and Ireland partners, responsible for developing and executing creative and data driven marketing campaigns and customer experiences, with a focus on SME acquisition.
From the moment you wake up in the morning, what do you look forward to for the day ahead?
I’m lucky that I get to work with a bunch of talented, passionate, and genuinely nice people – so makes the work that we do that much more exciting.
There’s also genuine interest in your career and development. I’m currently participating in a mentor programme, which pairs you up with a senior employee at Liberis to work on areas of development – so there’s really the opportunity to learn and grow within your role.
Describe a typical day for you in your role.
No day is the same! I could be meeting with partners, developing a marketing strategy for a partner or crafting copy for an upcoming campaign. I get to work across a large range of marketing projects – so I get the opportunity to flex different parts of my marketing skillset, whether its creative, analytical, or commercial.
What advice would you give a colleague whose just joined your team?
Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and question things! We’re a fast-moving business and if there’s a better or different way of doing something – everyone is really open to ideas. There’s really no limit to what you can achieve at Liberis if you think outside the box.
Are you office based, remote or hybrid? What are the pros and cons, if any?
I’m based in the London office, where I typically work two days from home and three in the office – but really depends on the week! It’s great having the flexibility to work from home if you need a bit of head down time, but we’re quite a social bunch, so it’s nice coming into the office and being able to collaborate with everyone (and go for a well-deserved after work drink!).
Once an afterthought for traditional banks, customer experience is now a touchstone for these legacy providers of financial services. With their monopoly eroded by the emergence of tech-driven financial companies (fintechs) in the wake of the financial crisis, they can no longer take customer retention for granted – forcing them to rethink their outdated financial services. Empowered by choice and innovation, the modern consumer demands access to customer-centric services that focus on providing a positive experience at the point of sale.
Spearheading this disruption of the antiquated brick-and-mortar banking model is embedded finance: the seamless integration of innovative financial services or tools within the products or services of a non-financial company. This alternative model is allowing banks to bridge the gap between customer expectations around efficiency, speed and personalisation and what their narrow legacy tech can deliver.
A product of the fintech movement, embedded finance providers are breaking down entrenched barriers to financial inclusion that previously obstructed consumers’ – both individuals and businesses – access to vital services. This subversive approach allows them to give consumers exactly what they want: frictionless financial services that mirror the highly personal and streamlined experiences they enjoy elsewhere online.
With the embedded finance journey seamlessly integrated into the non-financial companies’ user interface, customers can bypass clunky traditional structures that rely on legacy third parties, multiple forms, and manual processes. The result is a streamlined customer experience that saves them time and effort while cultivating a sense of security and reliability.
Back when banks held a monopoly over the financial services space, a handful of providers offered the same generic services under different brands. No longer fettered to these narrow services, consumers are demanding bespoke experiences beyond physical branches. Embedded finance is empowering banks to develop a deep understanding of each customer’s requirements and deliver a set of tailored digital experiences that satisfy them – and it’s being powered by AI.
The modern consumer typically chooses to engage with brands that acknowledge and remember them. This relies on the aggregation and analysis of data to deliver personalised services that are relevant to their requirements and preferences. Embedded finance augments conventional data sources based on demographics and age with AI-powered personalisation. Advanced algorithms possess the power to conduct real-time analysis of vast datasets and recommend tailored products and services based on their browsing/buying preferences.
This marks an inflection point for banks, who are breathing new life into their customer experience by swapping a narrow set of services for the ability to anticipate and give them what they want at the right time, through the right channels.
Embedded finance allows banks to simplify the banking process by replacing time-consuming and inefficient manual interactions with a seamless online user experience. Customers can access financial services directly within the platforms they already use, eliminating the need to navigate multiple third-party apps or websites. For example, some e-commerce platforms offer embedded payment processing, allowing customers to make purchases without being redirected to external payment gateways – reducing friction and enhancing the overall user experience.
Another example is embedded lending, which expedites the loan application and assessment processes by leveraging advanced algorithms – with the application process conducted online with a few clicks and a decision made within minutes.
Financial literacy – the knowledge and skills needed to make important financial decisions – is a key attribute for both individual and business customers when applying for products. Embedded finance’s innate ability to streamline traditionally convoluted and confusing financial services provides consumers with transparency and clarity about the products available to them.
Consumers are exposed to financial concepts in a more accessible and intuitive manner when these services are integrated into everyday products. By eliminating barriers to entry and simplifying the user experience, they gain a better understanding of financial management and can make more informed financial decisions.
Embedded finance can also provide educational content directly within financial applications or platforms. Users can access articles, videos, tutorials, and other resources that explain key financial concepts, terms, and strategies. By integrating financial education into everyday activities, people can learn at their own pace and develop a deeper understanding of personal or business finance.
As financial services become more integrated into everyday platforms, the risk of fraudulent activities increases amid an ever-expanding and evolving cyber-attack surface. Any concerns around trust and security in the digital banking space are being addressed by a compelling weapon in the embedded finance armoury: artificial intelligence (AI).
AI-powered fraud detection and prevention tools conduct real-time analysis of broad and diverse customer data sets and present their findings expeditiously. When fraud is detected, AI models can automatically reject transactions or flag and rate them for further investigation.
Liberis has partnered with Barclaycard to offer their small business customers access to personalised revenue-based finance. Called Barclaycard Business Cash Advance, this elevated customer experience allows these organisations to access finance based on their overall business revenue rather than historic credit scores – a frictionless service that unlocks the funding they need to grow.
Liberis advances a sum of money to eligible merchants on the agreement that they pay the sum plus a pre-agreed fee. This alternative finance product offers fixed-cost financing with flexible payment terms – allowing business owners to access the funds they need when they’re needed.
For the customer experience to meet shifting user expectations around efficiency, speed and personalisation, the embedded finance ecosystem must be agile enough to shift with them. By harnessing the dynamic power of AI to constantly learn and adjust based on vast sets of transactional and operational data, embedded finance platforms are creating user experiences that are increasingly intuitive, natural, and engaging – a perpetual evolution that has the customer at its core. Banks that leverage this agility unshackle themselves from their rigid traditional services that restrict customers to the same turgid experiences.
Banks that fail to recognise the pivotal role customer experience plays in building trust and loyalty in the modern financial landscape will remain stuck in the past – a world where customers were taken for granted. Those that are prepared to evolve in this increasingly saturated market by respecting the contemporary consumers mounting demand for efficiency, speed and personalisation will meet their expectations during every interaction – and improve retention rates.
By collaborating with an embedded finance platform, banks can provide a seamless and convenient online journey that bypasses multiple third-party apps or websites. Once a pipe dream for customers amid unyielding rigidity in the banking model, this streamlined experience is appealing to their appetite for customer-centric services – heightening their satisfaction and engagement.
Proactive e-commerce platforms don’t rest on their laurels. Having worked hard to partner with merchants, they work even harder to retain them. It’s this enterprising approach that allows them to focus on retention rates rather than churn rates. But with so much competition, it’s a challenge for them to remain in sight of their customers’ wandering eyes.
Auxiliary services can build a mutually beneficial online experience that differentiates e-commerce platforms and retains merchant customers – provided they add value. Agile lending services have the potential to cement the platform/merchant relationship by providing access to vital funds for these small businesses. But, offering lending services for the sake of it is not enough; they must appeal to the merchants’ need for a seamless, streamlined, and tailored experience – without exposing the platform to fraud, credit risk, and compliance challenges.
For this reason, dynamic e-commerce platforms are choosing to integrate an instant 4-click funding journey that has convenience, transparency, and personalisation at its core into their ecosystem – unlocking time-critical funds for merchants safely.
Powered by AI, 4-click funding eliminates friction from the lending process, unlocking funds for merchants quickly and cost-effectively. This helps to democratise finance for these small businesses by removing barriers – namely clunky and unaccommodating legacy lenders – that have traditionally prevented them from accessing vital funding.
So, how exactly does 4-click funding enable e-commerce platforms to offer financing to customers in a matter of minutes?
This ability to expedite the fund process provides merchants with the point of need access to the capital they crave, enhancing their cashflow management and increasing their purchasing power and inventory management; while the e-commerce platform builds brand loyalty and increases revenue through elevated user experience – a ripple effect that benefits both parties and has safety at its core.
Inserting lending services that lean on outdated legacy infrastructures exposes e-commerce platforms to credit risk. This reliance on historic credit scores that overlook applicants’ future financial position prohibits them from flagging high-risk customers that might default on their repayment obligations.
By augmenting the lending application and assessment processes with advanced algorithms, 4-click funding expedites credit-approval times and creates transparent credit decisioning models by analysing broad and diverse data sets in real time. This not only prevents applicants whose finances might deteriorate from being approved; it ensures creditworthy applicants aren’t rejected. For example, risks associated with instant financing are mitigated through robust automated underwriting practices that leverage cash flow and transaction data to drive instant – and informed – financial assessments.
Automated fraud detection and prevention tools conduct real-time analysis of vast swathes of transactional data, allowing platforms to identify nuanced trends that can be used to detect fraud in real time. Once fraud is identified, advanced algorithms can automatically reject transactions or flag and rate them for further investigation.
AI’s ability to process large volumes of data expeditiously also reinforces instant funding from a compliance perspective. With clunky manual processes consigned to the past, real-time performance data drives prompt preventive action if processes become non-compliant.
Instant funding is a cornerstone of the embedded lending model: the seamless integration of lending services by non-banks into their infrastructure. Innovative e-commerce platforms partner with a third-party provider like Liberis to leverage embedded lending. This tech-led specialist helps them to seamlessly integrate agile lending options into their platform by harnessing customisable APIs – significantly reducing the time to market.
With the instant funding application and approval process integrated into the platform’s user interface the customer journey is optimised for a smooth and intuitive 4-click experience: see the offer, customise the offer, confirm details, sign the contract.
Klarna – a leading global payments and shopping service – has partnered with Liberis to embed instant funding into their online experience as a value-added service for merchant customers. Their Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering relies on the delivery of short-term financing to customers, allowing them to make purchases and pay for them at a future date. By integrating 4-click funding into their platform, they empower merchants to access finance without friction.
One of 4-click funding’s main strengths is its dependence on AI. The definition of dynamic, AI is constantly learning and adjusting, providing e-commerce and embedded lending platforms with the agility needed to evolve by creating user experiences that are increasingly intuitive, natural, and engaging.
Any concerns around AI algorithm transparency are being allayed by the emerging field of explainable AI (XAI), which augments AI’s innate ability to process large volumes of data expeditiously with clarity. XAI has the power to dispel questions about the validity of the outcomes AI produces by explaining the characteristics and rationale of its output. The in-depth insights offered by this descriptive tool will drive increased trust in and adoption of 4-click funding.
4-click funding ticks all the value-added service boxes for e-commerce platforms merchant customers: convenience, transparency, and personalisation. It’s this triumvirate of factors – or lack of – that have traditionally shackled these small businesses from a lending perspective.
By integrating 4-click funding e-commerce platforms can provide merchants with the expedited lending service they deserve – safely and securely. This instant access to tailored funds isn’t just a nice change to the cumbersome and convoluted traditional lending model; it can mean the difference between surviving and ceasing to exist.
With the anxiety of being rejected by legacy lenders assuaged and time-critical funds accessed, e-commerce platforms’ value-added service will achieve what it set out to: attract and retain customers.
Becoming an e-commerce merchant is no longer a point of difference; it’s the default market entry point in today’s internet-enabled world. It’s estimated that world retail e-commerce sales – which are expected to total $5.9 trillion in 2023 – will exceed $7.5 trillion by 2026. To stand out from the crowd in this saturated – and uber-competitive – market, merchants must explore innovative ways to secure a share of this revenue and retain and scale it across their customer base.
Embedded lending – a subset of embedded finance – has emerged as a popular option for enhancing the value proposition of e-commerce platforms in the wake of pandemic-induced lockdowns that strangled household incomes. This process of integrating credit or financing products into non-financial businesses appeals to the modern consumers’ demand for frictionless, digital-first lending experiences – allowing them to access finance when they need it from a brand they trust.
Working with a tech-led embedded finance partner, merchants access a customisable API or white-label solution to integrate dynamic lending options into their e-commerce platform – and the benefits are compelling for both parties:
For example, Klarna – a leading global payments and shopping service – has partnered with Liberis to embed lending into their online experience. Merchants leverage this partnership by using Klarna’s services to access finance powered embedded lending.
E-commerce platforms don’t have to worry about their balance sheet when embracing alternative financing solutions because embedded lending providers like Liberis provide the initial capital and absorb the risk.
With bespoke lending options successfully embedded into their technology ecosystem, e-commerce merchants can enhance the customer’s lifetime value – the total worth to a business of a customer over the whole period of their relationship: average value of transactions, number of transactions, and churn rate.
Embedded lending can grow customers’ average transaction size and improve retention rates by providing access to seamless, streamlined, and flexible lending options – increasing their spending power and satisfaction. The result: a sustained injection of revenue that enhances cashflow management, increases purchasing power and inventory management, and accelerates growth and scalability.
By partnering with an embedded lending platform, e-commerce platforms like Klarna are able to provide small businesses with bespoke, pre-approved funding when they need it most, such as for buying stock during busy seasonal periods or to make VAT payments. This critical funding at the point of need is powered by advanced real-time data sharing between the e-commerce platform and the embedded lending platform. For example, open banking is helping to drive the democratisation of this instant funding.
Creditworthiness is a vital layer in the lending process. This risk mitigation tool has traditionally relied solely on a borrower’s credit score – a narrow approach that focuses on their current financial information. Consequently, lending decisions are determined by factors like payment history and outstanding debt, rather than their suitability to pay back the funds in the future. Embedded lending has the power to augment credit scores with forward-looking insights into a borrower’s suitability to repay a debt obligation – mitigating the risk of non or late payment.
With the loan application and approval process integrated seamlessly into the e-commerce platform’s user interface, customers can circumvent traditional lending structures that rely on legacy third parties, multiple forms, and manual processes. This streamlined experience saves time and effort for customers while providing a sense of security and reliability – enhancing trust in the platform and its lending services.
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is an example of embedded lending: a type of short-term financing that allows consumers to make purchases and pay for them at a future date. Amid the proliferation of this flexible funding option, e-commerce platforms, such as Klarna, now offer instant lending solutions in the form of revenue-based finance to their SME customers – providing finance without friction for this traditionally underserved segment of the lending market.
Buy or build? A new capability is an immense drain on resources: it requires substantial programming manpower; it takes months to develop and deliver; and it demands vigorous GRC analysis. Working with a tech-led partner like Liberis that specialises in developing APIs that facilitate rapid deployment saves time and money – plus new features can be added when required. This brings the vendor selection process into sharp focus for e-commerce platforms.
To harness the power of embedded lending to offer a value-added service, you must trust this third-party provider from a security, technical, reputational, and strategic perspective. To ensure they align with your requirements and can help you achieve them, carefully consider the options available before making an informed decision. This should be viewed as a long-term investment in a meaningful partnership, not an off-the-shelf product.
E-commerce platforms that seamlessly embed lending products into their platform at the point of purchase experience a ripple effect of benefits: enhanced competitive edge leads to improved customer loyalty and greater spending power, which in turn leads to increased sales and higher average order value. With their coffers swelled by this cycle of success, they have the financial footing needed to manage cash flow with confidence, increase purchasing power and inventory management, and grow their business.
As part of Liberis’ celebration of Pride month, the DE&I council decided to write about the difference between gender and sex. For many folk who identify as LGBTQIA+, particularly the trans community, the distinction is important. Sex and gender are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.
Understanding the terms is a way of showing support for LGBTQIA+ colleagues. It can also help to challenge biased or problematic assumptions about individuals based on their perceived gender or sex.
Here is an infographic that visually describes the differences between the terms sex; gender identity; gender expression (outward presentation), and sexual/emotional attraction.
Sex is the term used to describe a set of biological attributes in humans, and in other animals. The sex categories are:
When babies are born, doctors look at their genitalia and assign sex as male or female. In a small proportion of cases babies are identified as intersex, but often this is not apparent until later in life.
Genitalia are only one biological marker of sex. They are used due to their strong correlation with other sex attributes. Other sex attributes include hormones, internal sexual anatomy, gene expression and so on.
Sex as a concept applies to all animals. Gender is a human concept. It describes the set of rules, behaviours and expectations that have become associated with girls and women, boys and men in human society. Gender categories are:
Gender describes how we think about ourselves, how we express and present ourselves, and how we perceive and consider others. It is not always fixed and can change over time for some people.
Normalisation of understanding that gender is a social construct challenges the idea that ‘normal’ is a binary fixed category, and represents normality as a range of combinations of sex, gender identity, gender presentation, and attraction.
Societal ‘norms’ have typically associated gender closely to sex and seen it as a fixed thing. For example, Female-sexed babies are expected to grow into girls and women who behave in typically ‘feminine’ ways.
Girls falling outside of behavioural norms by choosing to dress or behave like typical boys of the same age are sometimes called ‘tomboys’. The category puts these girls ‘outside the norm’ and often comes with negative connotations. This is an example of gender morning.
Male-sexed babies are typically expected to grow into boys and then men who dress and behave in ways considered typical for their sex.
‘Boys will be boys’, is a common phrase used to normalise boisterous behaviour in male-sexed children – another example of gender norming in action.
These social expectations link biology (sex) closely with behaviour – resulting in the traditional idea that there are normally two fixed options for sex/gender pairing in humans:
The ‘normal’ expectation that humans fall into one of two categories can be harmful. Societal rules are complex and slow to change, with power and majority being strong influences on what is considered ‘normal’.
Those outside the ‘norm’ are regularly excluded and marginalised for being different. They may act differently to what feels natural to them in order to stay safe and fit in, which is tiring and harmful in of itself.
By understanding the difference between biological sex and societal gender, it is possible to acknowledge that many people do not fit the two binary sex/gender norms described above.
Transgender is the term used to describe people who consider their gender identity to be different from the gender typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
The term for people who have the gender identity that matches the norms for the sex assigned to them at birth, is cis gender.
These terms are often abbreviated to ‘trans’ and ‘cis’.
I was assigned female at birth, and I think of myself as… a female sexed person! I have never had either a feminine or a binary gender identity. I just don’t think of myself in that way. The words girl and woman don’t resonate with me. On top of that, they make me think of stereotypes that I prefer to avoid. But I’m happy enough to use them because its easier, due to the way I look. Not everyone has that privilege.
My gender is outwardly ‘feminine’ most of the time, because I like to express myself creatively. Colourful nails and fashion are an accessible way to do so every day. It is still easier for women than for men to enjoy fashion and makeup without attracting negative attention.
In the past I have chosen to dress and present in less typically feminine ways, by cutting my hair short and choosing gender neutral clothes, to try to ‘match’ how I felt inside. I’ve also come to realise that this was an unconscious attempt to avoid sexist bias and harassment that I experienced regularly when I was younger. It didn’t really work, and I wasn’t comfortable with how I was presenting.Fortunately as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become comfortable with my gender expression (feminine) not matching my gender identity (?),. How I feel and express myself may change again over time!
Traditionally, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) simply had to understand what the customer wanted before giving it to them at the right price to make money. Today, however, there’s an added layer of complexity in the quest to turn a profit: the modern ethically conscious consumer wants businesses they engage with to put people and the planet ahead of profits. This contemporary mindset has been stoked by the climate change conversation, which has risen in volume amid a growing understanding of the damaging impact businesses are having on the environment.
Underpinning this need to create sustainable value in the modern business landscape is a commitment to invest in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues – cementing the role of sustainability in contemporary business ethics. A cornerstone of this vital evaluation of a business’s collective conscientiousness for social and environmental factors is sustainable finance: the process of taking ESG considerations into account when making investment decisions, leading to enduring investments in sustainable activities and projects.
By leveraging sustainable finance, SMEs – the largest segment of the UK business population – can make a sizeable contribution to the UK government’s net zero strategy. And the benefits of doing so from a business perspective are compelling:
Access to finance is a major constraint for SMEs seeking to undertake sustainable investments. They typically point to the high upfront costs and limited access to finance as the main obstacle. In the EU, for example, 60% of SMEs that have undertaken resource efficiency investments and 61% of SMEs that offer green products or services have relied on their own funds.
They also face knowledge-related barriers that restrict their demand for net zero investments and sustainable finance. For example, A 2021 survey conducted by the UK Chamber of Commerce shows that only one in ten SMEs currently measure their GHG emissions.
SMEs must overcome the economic and educational hurdles that block their ability to harness sustainable finance as a driver for meaningful change. To achieve this, they must be aware of and understand the sustainable financing options available to them that reflect the benefits of sustainable practices – from government grants and green bonds to sustainable loans and development funds. For example, almost £5 billion of funding is available to help UK businesses become greener as part of the government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050
Empowered by this knowledge and understanding, they can look beyond their bank when seeking funding for sustainable initiatives. These legacy providers’ rigid lending frameworks have perpetuated erroneous assumptions that SMEs are too risky to engage with – depriving them of the funds they need to thrive.
They must also be aware of the tax benefits and incentives for adopting sustainable practices. With environmental issues high on the global agenda, governments are targeting businesses in their drive to sustainability. Environmental taxes encourage SMEs to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner, such as reliefs from the UK government for buying energy-efficient technology for your business.
Sustainable finance options can help SMEs access capital to invest in sustainable initiatives that lead to significant cost savings and efficiency gains – such as:
The modern consumer, who is increasingly conscious of environmental and social issues, prefers to support businesses that align with their values. By integrating sustainability into their operations and culture, SMEs can engender a positive reputation that appeals to this ethically motivated bunch.
Sustainable finance provides the foundation needed to build a positive brand image around environmental and social responsibility. Invest wisely and they will appear more trustworthy and attractive to not only customers but employees and stakeholders as well. This fosters a strong reputation that can lead to increased customer loyalty, reduced marketing costs, and a competitive edge.
The growing demand for sustainable products and services amid a stark realisation of the impact we are having on the planet is reflected in a recent study around Gen Z and sustainability: the report reveals that 62% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, and a staggering 73% are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
Sustainable finance can help align investment decisions with consumer preferences by promoting ethical investments and sustainable products and services. Proactive SMEs can use this funding to tap into this eco-conscious sentiment, opening the door to new customer segments and revenue streams. To be successful, they must harness the power of sustainable finance to integrate ESG considerations as a core driver of their strategy and differentiate themselves from a sustainability perspective.
Sustainability focuses on minimising negative environmental impacts, such as pollution, resource depletion, and climate change. By integrating sustainability principles into their operations, SMEs can identify potential environmental risks, assess their impacts, and develop strategies to mitigate them. This proactive approach helps mitigate environmental incidents that could result in financial penalties, legal liabilities, reputational damage, and regulatory non-compliance.
Sustainable finance encourages SMEs to assess and disclose environmental risks in their portfolios. By integrating environmental risk analysis into their decision-making processes, they can identify and manage potential vulnerabilities, strengthening their resilience against disruptions.
By channelling capital towards eco-friendly projects and initiatives – such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate-resilient infrastructure – sustainable finance helps future-proof SMEs by providing them with the agility to adapt to changing market dynamics.
Tackling the climate crisis and working towards a net zero economy by 2050 might be increasingly pressing issues – but they come at a financial cost. To be successful, sustainability initiatives require sufficient funding – something SMEs typically struggle with. According to our 2022 survey commissioned with YouGov, 15% of SMEs say rejection is one of their biggest funding concerns. Sustainable grants, loans and programmes allow SMEs to bypass their bank and obtain the initial investment required to kickstart these initiatives.
With the finances secured, SMEs can dedicate resources to implementing environmentally responsible strategies and integrating sustainability into their business practices. This firm financial footing ensures their core function won’t be disrupted and potential resistance from stakeholders is allayed.
SMEs are responsible for around 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions from the UK business sector. Against this troubling backdrop, they must understand why they need to adopt sustainability initiatives and how they go about it. When it comes to the all-important how sustainable finance can mean the difference between these vital plans remaining nice ideas and getting off the ground. Crucially, it typically removes interaction with a legacy bank from the lending process, which have a poor track record when it comes to funding SMEs.
The adoption of sustainable practices must not be a box-ticking exercise; they must be underpinned by an understanding of environmental issues and a genuine commitment to drive meaningful change – otherwise, they will remain rudderless. Get this right and SMEs can reduce operational costs, attract new customers, improve brand loyalty, and create new revenue streams – benefits that are born out of initiatives that appeal to the current environmental zeitgeist.
Sustainable finance is moving from niche to mainstream as more SMEs recognise the importance of integrating ESG factors into their strategy and decision-making. This is being accelerated by governments and regulatory bodies, which are increasingly taking steps to implement frameworks to promote sustainable finance – including mandatory ESG reporting requirements, tax incentives for sustainable investments, and regulations that encourage transparency and accountability.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Barbara, and I am a part of Customer Ops team at Liberis. I’ve been with company for almost 2 years now. In my free time I’m a dog walker, full time plant mother and travel enthusiast. 😊
How do you educate yourself about the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community?
The best way to educate is to have open conversations with people. Reading articles and following people on social media is great for awareness, but to understand issues that the community is facing, I try to engage myself in meetups with LGBTQIA+ community through art and music events.
How do you handle situations where you witness discrimination or bias against the LGBTQIA+ community?
I think a lot of discrimination is caused by ignorance and speaking up is very important in those situations. But let’s not forget that you can’t fight anger with anger, so the best way to challenge this is with education and open communication.
What does being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community mean to you?
For me personally, it is a responsibility of sharing my knowledge with others, fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights even if nobody from the community is present in the room. And most importantly educating people who are unconsciously biased, and correcting the language used especially when there may be generational and cultural differences.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an ally but doesn’t know where to start?
I feel that the biggest value for LGBTQIA+ community is being open to others and acceptance. If you feel like you want to learn more, get more involved or help out, find an event that involves something you’re interested in or organized by the LGBTQIA+ community. Once you get there, everyone will be welcoming and friendly. You will definitely make friends and most likely find ways to get more involved.
What’s your name and what do you do at Liberis?
My name is Max Mckinnon-Evans and I work as a Business Operations Executive.
What makes you proud to work here?
There are lots of reasons to be proud to work here, but I think the one that stands out to me is the people. Liberis has such a range of wildly talented people who put such effort into what they do. It makes the delivery of a project, the launch of a new partner, and the day to day very rewarding knowing how much effort has been poured into work by your colleagues. The culture is supportive, inclusive, and great to be a part of.
What are your stand-out memories of working at Liberis so far?
I have many great memories from the last couple of years but one that stick in my mind would be meeting such a great group of people from different walks of life, the chances I have had to develop professionally, the growth in my personal confidence since working here and the opportunities to own workstreams of my own.
Since working here, what ways have you developed – personally and/or professionally?
I graduated from university during the pandemic and joined Liberis at the tail end of covid restrictions, so all my experience in a full-time role have been here. Initially, I joined Liberis in a customer facing role, and after expressing an interest in business operations I was able to move internally thanks to the support of my manager and the career development framework. In a short space of time, I have been able to work on an incredibly broad range of topics. From supporting our merchants on the ground in my initial role, to working on process improvement, new partner onboarding, and geo expansion in my current one. Liberis has offered me opportunities and allowed me to develop skills which will be invaluable to the rest of my career.
What makes Liberis different from anywhere else you’ve worked?
Since I haven’t really worked in an environment akin to Liberis before, my comparison point here will have to be based on conversations I have with friends of a similar age, and how our experiences starting out in a career vary. A couple of stand out differences I can think of are the opportunities we have at Liberis to own and peruse our personal development. There are numerous chances to get stuck into different work streams and learn new skills, and lots of people willing to support that. A second would be the transparency of our leadership team, who constantly keep us up to date on our mission, goals, what we are doing well, and what we aren’t.
What do you look forward to most in Liberis’ future?
I am looking forward to seeing what we decide to tackle next! The sector Liberis operates in is so dynamic that we often must pivot quickly and respond to the latest industry trends. It makes working here exciting and fast paced, so I am looking forward to seeing what challenges come my way over the next few months and what I can learn from working on them.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Adrian Morris, Customer Operations Associate at Liberis. I’m a massive nerd so my hobbies include gaming, film, comics etc.
Can you share some of your experiences of coming out, if applicable?
The first person I came out to was my drama teacher at the age of 12. I stayed behind after a class and asked to speak to him, and he said of course and asked me what was wrong. I said I think I might be like you. Being the person that he is he looked me dead in the eye and said: “what, fabulous?” I said no that I was gay and burst into tears. He gave me the biggest hug and said I know and also shed a tear. He’s been my rock ever since so glad to have him apart of my life.
How would you describe Liberis’ culture when it comes to diversity and inclusion, specifically towards LGBTQIA+ employees?
I find the culture here very welcoming. We are encouraged to be who we are no matter who we are. We actively try to celebrate differences which could be people sharing stories, raising awareness, or just having open honest conversations with each other.
What would you say to a new LGBTQIA+ employee joining Liberis?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your guard down. You will never be judged here for being who you are no matter where you fall on the rainbow or spectrum.
How can allies within Liberis best support the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace?
This goes for both in and out of the workplace. Make sure you’re calling out unacceptable behaviour and asking questions if you’re unsure of something. It’s the best way to learn from one another.
How have your experiences as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community shaped your personal relationships and social interactions?
I always find that queer people tend to find each other in a workplace. Our cultural references and shared stories often are the building blocks for great friendships.
Could you tell us about a personal role model or inspiration that has significantly impacted your journey as an LGBTQIA+ person?
Apart from the drama teacher I previously mentioned, I’ve always looked up to Sir Ian McKellen. Apart from being an absolute icon, he’s been fighting for gay rights since the beginning. Coming out on TV and speaking about gay rights openly in the media since the 80s, for some this could have killed your career, but it’s never stopped him.
What advice would you give to young LGBTQIA+ individuals who are in the process of understanding their identities?
Don’t think that your alone. It’s scary coming to terms with your own sexual or gender identity. The feeling of not being able to “fit in” to social norms never really stops but there is a massive community of support just ready to support you. Don’t let external influences get to you. Remain true to yourself and you’ll find your path.
Welcome to June, a month filled with joy, acceptance, and Pride! In honour of Pride Month, we’re dedicating some time to shed light on important aspects of this annual celebration.
Firstly, you may wonder: Why do we commemorate Pride Month?
Pride Month serves as a global beacon, casting a spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community, their struggles, achievements, and aspirations. While there have been monumental strides in the advancement of gay rights, many regions around the world still enforce anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, putting severe restrictions on individual identity and freedom. For instance, on May 29, a Ugandan law criminalising homosexuality, punishable by life imprisonment, was enacted. Today, being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community remains illegal in 64 countries, a grim reminder of the battles yet to be won.
One question that might arise is: Why doesn’t Liberis change its logo to the Pride flag in June like other organizations?
This practice, commonly referred to as Rainbow washing, involves a company expressing support for the LGBTQIA+ community by incorporating rainbow colours into their branding. However, the trouble with Rainbow washing is that it can be an empty symbol without genuine, concrete support for the LGBTQIA+ community. This performative act may seem as self-congratulatory rather than driving real change or offering true support to the community it purports to stand with. The vibrancy of the rainbow colours might attract attention for the month of June, but by the 1st of July, all is reverted back to ‘business as usual’.
Learn More: The Problem with Rainbow Washing
Another thought that might occur to you: What exactly does LGBTQIA+ stand for?
Here’s a historical tidbit – The ‘L’ in the acronym is placed first to pay homage to the efforts of the lesbian community during the 1980s HIV/AIDS pandemic. At a time when many, including medical personnel, shunned those afflicted with the disease, it was lesbians who showed up to hospitals and homes, providing care and companionship to the ailing. They ensured no one felt alone in their fight. The order of the acronym serves as a tribute to those who demonstrated empathy and compassion when others wouldn’t.
We encourage you to adopt gender-neutral terms, promoting inclusivity and respect.
Learn more: Everyday Gender-Neutral Language Tips