Business Wire

WorldFirst Launches New Solution to Support Growth of UK SME’s Global Trade


WorldFirst, a one-stop digital payment and financial services platform for global businesses, especially SMEs in international trade, has launched an e-commerce growth solution to help UK SMEs trade globally. Through the solution accessible via the World Account, SMEs need just one account which has a simple set-up process to start cross-border e-commerce trade.

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Bruce Ding, General Manager of WorldFirst International Business, shares global e-commerce opportunities for UK SMEs at a WorldFirst partner conference in London, March 2024. (Photo: Business Wire)

The World Account brings down the costs associated with making an international transfer for SMEs. Typically these costs which span compliance, FX and payment operations account for 2-3% of the value of a transfer, but with the World Account this is reduced to less than 0.75%, according to WorldFirst industry analysis. This helps SMEs boost their margins to sustain long-term business growth.

Untapped Opportunity in Cross-border E-commerce

Global trade is expected to grow by 3.3% this year and retail e-commerce sales are expected to grow 8.8% over the same period. However, in the UK, the Office for National Statistics’ most recent Annual Business Survey of Exporters and Importers revealed that just over 1 in every 10 UK businesses (11.4%) are involved in exporting; a number that had only risen by 0.7% in the preceding three years. When polled by a UK bank, 80% of businesses agreed that exporting is critical to their business’ future.

Bruce Ding, General Manager of WorldFirst International Business, notes: “Against this backdrop, there’s an excellent opportunity for many more UK SMEs to tap into the opportunities of international trade. Despite the complexities involved in cross-border e-commerce, with the support of external partners like us, we’re seeing SMEs are increasingly optimistic about the opportunities presented by exporting overseas.”

In 2022, the total cross-border e-commerce market in Europe, including the United Kingdom, amounted to a turnover of €265 billion (excluding travel). Of this total, €167 billion, or 63%, was generated by marketplaces. However, European countries are falling behind compared to those across South America and Asia, where multiple markets have seen significant growth in e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer.

Younger Generations Drive Cross-border E-commerce

WorldFirst finds that more than 50% of sellers using its cross-border e-commerce solution are Gen Z or Millennials, suggesting these generations of business leaders are more aware of global e-commerce opportunities.

Ding adds, “Consumers are increasingly buying directly through SMEs’ websites, online marketplaces and social media platforms. This means people are purchasing from businesses located across the globe without even realising they’re doing so. Younger business owners have spotted this opportunity to run their independent e-commerce stores or set up fronts on global e-marketplaces.”

However, challenges, ranging from the complexity in international payment and foreign exchange, payment fraud, and hidden service charges, still put away aspiring business owners, threat survival of start-ups and undermine durability of existing businesses.

To help solve these challenges, UK SMEs can streamline international operations by partnering with external vendors. UK business owners can open a World Account within minutes to be able to trade like a local around the world. The account supports payment collection with 14 local or cross-border accounts and pay-out in more than 40 currencies to over 130 countries and regions. WorldFirst's extensive partnerships with key e-commerce platforms facilitate seamless cross-border transactions.

WorldFirst has a strong track record in driving growth in e-commerce for SMEs. WorldFirst is the top payment service firm by transaction volume for China-based e-commerce businesses which sell on international e-marketplaces, such as Amazon and Lazada. In January 2024, new customer acquisition by WorldFirst in South-east Asia increased 16 times and the overall transaction volume of its customers in the region grew by 90% on year.

About WorldFirst:

WorldFirst is meeting the needs of SMEs engaged in international trade to expand globally. This includes global collection, making payments, currency conversion, risk management, and supply chain financing to help SMEs reduce costs and improve turnover efficiency to generate more revenue, and quickly capture global business opportunities. WorldFirst, which employs AI and other cutting-edge technologies for risk control, prioritizes the safety and security of client funds above all else and has a leading fraud-prevention track record in the industry. WorldFirst has served one million customers worldwide and is connected to over 120 marketplaces. WorldFirst was founded in 2004 and joined Ant Group in 2019. To learn more about WorldFirst at

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