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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Researchers, fintechs find 'helpers' amid high inflation

While consumers and small business owners are feeling inflation's pinch, there are fewer Chapter 11 filings this year compared to last year, according to new research by Epiq Bankruptcy and ABI Research. Analysts noted commercial filings decreased 7 percent and small business filings by 8 percent in June 2022. In addition, total bankruptcy filings decreased by 6 percent from 34,291 in June 2021 to 32,175 in June 2022, researchers found.

Chris Kruse, senior vice president at Epiq, stated year-over-year filings continue to decline but month-over-month Chapter 13 filings tell a different story. "Turbulence in the market including inflation concerns, labor shortages in key industries, and a downward shift in housing prices all point toward increases in the months ahead," he said.

Amy Quackenboss, executive director at ABI Research, agreed that credit market tightening, global supply chain issues, and elevated prices and interest rates are placing undue pressures on families and businesses. "Bankruptcy provides a shield to the mounting economic challenges being experienced by financially struggling consumers and companies," she said.

A copy of the report is available at bankruptcy.epiqglobal.com/analytics .

Look for the helpers

The fintech community is fulfilling the legacy of popular television host Fred Rogers, who would remind his audience to look for helpers during challenging times. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

Afshin Yazdian, CEO of Paysafe, U.S. Acquiring, advised service providers and merchants to focus on the customer experience. "In times of inflation, consumers want to see their money's worth and will prioritize products and services that provide excellent value," he said. "Payment providers can help merchants enhance value by adopting the latest tech which not only processes payments but also offers access to tools and data."

Yazdian further noted that merchants can leverage tools like data analytics to manage and optimize inventories and monitor consumer behaviors. They can also use direct marketing and social media updates to stay connected and top of mind with their customers, he stated, adding that offering customers a variety of choices at the point of interaction can drive customer retention and loyalty. Ultimately, he said, the better the customer experience and the more value a merchant can provide, the more likely customers will return for those repeat purchases.

Go digital

Mikel Lindsaar, CEO and founder of StoreConnect, pointed out that ecommerce merchants can benefit from an economic downturn as more and more consumers shop online. "SMBs in the ecommerce space could benefit from a downturn in the economy because these companies offer greater efficiency in acquiring basic goods such as clothing, household durable goods, and basic daily necessities," he said. "By shopping online, no gasoline, time or energy is used to gain access to the goods, meaning ecommerce cuts out the middleman."

Lindsaar also noted that all types of businesses can improve efficiencies by implementing digital solutions. His company's solution, he added, enables merchants to consolidate multiple systems, from sales, POS, inventory management and customer support, within a single system that is integrated with Salesforce.

"Digital solutions like StoreConnect allow businesses to function with less staff, which is inevitable since Goliaths like Meta and Amazon have already begun hiring freezes and layoffs," he said. "Business Insider reports that SMB CEOs are currently slowing hiring and investments."

Money management apps

Fintechs are also introducing digital tools designed to help consumers make good choices as they shop and bank.

Damon Kirk, CEO and Steven Farrar, CFO, co-founded Obsidian Banking, which they described as an equitable, all-encompassing banking experience catering to Black Americans. "Our mission is to close the racial wealth gap," Kirk said. "We're preparing to embark on our Million Doors Challenge, one of the most comprehensive Black consumer studies ever done in the United States, and will look to utilize this data to improve our people's financial wellness and literacy, as well as their entire consumer experience."

Rashedia Mayhane, CEO and founder of Greenchips, created a financial wellness app especially for women and millennials designed to drive enlightened financial habits. The Greenchips community has been growing by leaps and bounds, she stated.

"The number one cause of stress in America is money and women suffer from this issue more than any other group," Mayhane said. " I founded the fintech startup Greenchips to help women create healthier habits, clearer goals and bring balance, confidence, and power to their relationship with money."

Obsidian Banking and Greenchips will participate in a panel discussion on the power of minority transactions on Aug. 22, 2022, at the MPC Digital Commerce Event. Additional details and registration information are available at mobilepaymentconference.com/. Readers of The Green Sheet can receive an additional discount by using promo code GREEN2250. end of article

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