Feature Article
Welcome to This Week's Issue | Here's What's Inside...

We're delighted to bring you another jam-packed issue of Dublin Chamber Weekly, kindly sponsored by PwC.

 

Inside this week's edition you will find details of the Chamber's latest policy work. There's also information on a decision that's been taken by the Chamber board to extend the terms of our elected officials for an additional year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

All that plus your regular helping of member news and much, much more. Enjoy the issue!


Chamber Policy Council to Stay in Place for 2021

In the context of the challenges posed by Covid-19, the Board of Dublin Chamber has made the decision to extend the terms of the positions of the Honorary Officers (President, Vice-President, Deputy Vice-President, Treasurer and Imm. Past President) and the positions the Chamber's policy Council members.

 

This decision has been taken to allow Honorary Officers and Council members to get the greatest benefit possible in their positions, many of which have been denied because of Covid-19.

 

What this means in practice is that in 2021 Catherine Moroney will remain as President, Vincent Harrison will be Vice-President and Stephen O'Leary will be Deputy Vice-President. All Council member roles will roll over also, with all elected and co-opted positions receiving an extended period in office.

 

As a result of this decision, this means there will be no Deputy Vice President or Council elections held this year. However, the AGM in February 2021 will proceed as normal.

These decision have been made in an effort to ensure that Dublin Chamber is best-placed to help you and your company over the coming months.

 

If you'd like to know more about why this decision has been taken, please visit our website.


Contact Your Councillors to Stop a Commercial Rates Hike
 

Two in 3 businesses (66%) believe that Local Authorities should reduce reliance on commercial rates by making greater use of Local Property Tax (LPT), according to Dublin Chamber’s most recent Business Outlook Survey. 

 

With local authority budgets up for discussion over the coming months, the Chamber has been campaigning to avoid another increase in commercial rates by warning against populist measures that could leave holes in the finances later this year. Too often, commercial rates increases have effectively been treated as a ‘balancing item’ to make up for the shortfall caused by earlier decisions, such as reducing Local Property Tax - against official advice. This year there is no room for complacency.

 

Businesses already contribute around half of all local authority funding in the Dublin region through commercial rates, in addition to further contributions through various charges and levies. Meanwhile, Councils in Dublin draw just 3.2% of their income from LPT on average.

 

The emergency waiver from commercial rates is due to expire at the end of this month, and Dublin Chamber has warned that in the current climate, another commercial rates hike would be a bad move. We have called on local authorities to plan ahead to avoid increasing the financial burden on struggling businesses and, if necessary, to strengthen the case for funding for central Government. The latter will require a demonstrated willingness to make better use of existing revenue streams, including LPT. You can read what we have said on our website.

 

If your business stands to be impacted, we urge you to contact your local Councillor directly and ask them how they plan to avoid a rates hike later this year.

 

You can find their email addresses here for Dublin City, here for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, here for South Dublin County Council, and here for Fingal County Council.


Moving Towards a Cashless Society
 

The shift towards a more cashless society is primarily driven by advances in technology, the development of new and innovative efficient payment solutions and consumer preferences. Speed, convenience and reducing the risk of theft of physical cash are also some of the key reasons we are seeing a marked reduction in cash transactions. And Covid-19 has now also played a role in the further ‘normalisation’ of digital payments.


Moving towards a cashless society

By Laura Flood, Partner, PwC

The shift towards a more cashless society is primarily driven by advances in technology, the development of new and innovative efficient payment solutions and consumer preferences. Speed, convenience and reducing the risk of theft of physical cash are also some of the key reasons we are seeing a marked reduction in cash transactions.  And COVID-19 has now also played a role in the further ‘normalisation’ of digital payments.

There is also strong support at EU level for pan-EU payment schemes. Valdis Dombrovskis Vice-President, European Commission has recently said “we also need to be clear that if our banking sector doesn’t deliver on innovative payment solutions, Libra or others will move into that space. There’s an unmet demand.”

Opportunities

Beyond the current advantages of reaching a wider audience through digital payments, the reduction in risk of theft and keeping pace with consumer preferences, the future of payment digitalisation holds more opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Open Finance is seen by many as the next stage of payment innovation and is based on the principle that the data supplied by and created on behalf of financial services customers is owned and controlled by those customers. Customers who consent to sharing their data being used could be offered tailored products and services which could include personal financial management tools, receiving competitively based quotations tailored to the consumer’s specific situation as well as alternative creditworthiness assessments. The EU Commission’s Digital Finance Strategy, due to be published in Q3 of this year, is expected to consider Open Finance as part of the overall EU’s data strategy. Open Finance will present a significant opportunity for those seeking to develop innovative new services for products including mortgages, savings, pensions and insurance. 

 

Risks

The risks associated with a move towards a more cashless society are the subject of much analysis. Those not in favour of the trend often cite a wide variety of issues such as possible financial exclusion for those who are currently not in the banking system or for those who struggle to access reliable broadband. Another possible issue is the overt transparency of a digital system and the lack of anonymity associated with non-cash transactions.

Security is often presented as a significant concern for many who are reluctant to move away from cash, with the fear of online frauds and scams a greater concern than the risk of physical theft of cash. 

In order to move to a fully cashless society, the financial sector’s digital products and services would need to allow for full participation by all members of society and enhance financial inclusion with evidence-based design and transparency at the heart of progress in this area.

Ireland

In a global context, Ireland is not moving away from cash as quickly as other countries, although the use of card and online payments is increasing. Sweden, regarded as one of the most cashless societies in the world, is a really interesting country to observe when it comes to this switch. At this point Sweden is virtually cashless, with widespread adoption of Swish, a payments app, which is backed by Sweden’s main banks. In Sweden a couple of interesting factors have emerged. Firstly, the Swedish parliament in 2019 voted in favour of a Bill to preserve cash to ensure ongoing access to cash for those who require it. Secondly, given the general attitude towards cash and the trends noted in Sweden, the Central Bank is exploring the possibility for a Central Bank Digital Currency, the e-Krona, to ensure ongoing access to government-backed currency. 

In contrast to Sweden, there are many countries where the prevalence of cash remains reasonably high, where citizen preference appears to favour the use of cash. Germany is often given as an example where cash is still a very widely-used payment method. 

While the prevalence of card and online payments is certainly increasing, we are still quite a distance from a being cashless society here in Ireland, although as technology and services continue to develop, over time it seems likely we will see the widespread adoption of non-cash payments. 

Regulatory issues

From a regulatory perspective, consumer protection, anti-money laundering and the safe and efficient operation of payments and securities and settlement systems are key areas of focus for regulators in this area. 

For entrepreneurs, an awareness of the regulatory landscape, understanding what is and what is not a regulated activity is clearly very important. In Ireland, the Central Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Hub is an excellent facility for those seeking to explore the regulatory aspects of their propositions. Designed to allow fintech firms to engage outside of the formal authorisation process, it is a great resource for those developing or implementing innovations using new technology in financial services.

For regulators, a world without cash presents some significant considerations. Central banks and regulators, responsible for monetary policy and stability and financial regulation have been monitoring the declining use of cash, the emergence of innovations such the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum and Facebook’s global digital stablecoin Libra project as well as the Decentralised Finance movement more broadly. A number of forces, including these have resulted in the concept of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) being widely explored by many central banks around the world to complement or replace traditional currencies. A recent Bank for International Settlements survey showed that more than 80% of the 66 banks surveyed were working on CBDC, though many in an exploratory or ‘analytical’ phase.

COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the move away from cash as a method of payment. Much of the early advice from officials during the pandemic recommended the use of contactless payments due to the potential risk of transmission through coins and banknotes, with shoppers encouraged to use contactless payments. Equally, consumer behaviour has necessarily changed significantly during the pandemic, with many shoppers required or choosing to buy online. As we head into the next phases of the pandemic, we will see if consumer behaviour will return to pre-COVID levels of cash usage or whether this shift will be a permanent shift in consumer and societal attitudes towards the adoption of non-cash payment methods.

 

 


Strategic Communication – Developing Your Organisation’s Success

Over the past few months the strategic importance of the communication function in every organisation has come to the fore.

 

Crisis management, internal communication, governmental and public affairs and, for some, business (re-)positioning, all key skills in the Public Relations and Communications toolkit, have been in great demand since the outbreak of Covid-19.Primarily within the remit of the Public Relations  or Communication Manager, an appreciation of the strategic importance and techniques of effective public relations is a key business competence, knowledge of which shouldn’t be - confined to the communications department.

 

While many organisations will engage a PR consultancy to work with them on their communications challenges, all organisations should have a level of expertise among their management ranks. One way to do this is to train staff in PR and communications. The PRII Diploma in Public Relations is the foremost Public Relations qualification in Ireland and is ideally pitched for those working in other areas of the business who want a better appreciation of the contribution of strategic communications to business success.

 

Enrolment is currently open for the PRII Diploma in Public Relations which starts on Monday, 21 September and runs to April 2021.  There is a discount available to Dublin Chamber members who send two or more employees on the course. See www.prii.ie/diploma for more information.

 

Delivered and accredited by the PRII, Ireland’s professional body for PR & Communication practitioners, the diploma is universally recognised. This year’s PRII Diploma course   will be delivered in a blended and flexible way allowing students balance their study and day jobs. This also means course delivery is within the Covid-19 public health measures.

 

Industry experts, PR professionals and academics, and guest lecturers all present and contribute to the course, ensuring that course content is up to date and relevant to this dynamic business function. The PRII Diploma will give participants a complete understanding of all aspects of the PR and communications function. Participants develop in-depth knowledge of the role and practice of external and internal communications well as learning how to devise, develop and implement comprehensive PR strategies and campaigns. Importantly, they will understand how the media works and how to develop effective relationships with key players. Writing and effective content creation appropriate to diverse types of media are a key element of the course. Participants will also gain an appreciation of the ethical and legal issues around public relations;  insight into the other professions central to the work of PR and see how business, politics and society interact and the role of public affairs in that process.

Luas Finglas & DART+ West Consultations | Have Your Say
 

There are currently two public consultations open on vital public transport projects for Dublin: the Luas Finglas extension and the DART+ West project which would see the DART service extended to Maynooth. The Chamber is currently working on submissions on both. Should you wish to share your views, contact marian@dublinchamber.ie.

 

Negativity is often a problem that stalls important infrastructure developments, and it is important positive voices are heard. That is why we would also encourage members to make their own submission in favour of these projects.

  • Luas Finglas Extension: The consultation deadline is 17th September 2020. Read more here.
  • DART+ West Project: The consultation deadline is 7th October 2020. Read more here.

The DART+ West project is part of a broader programme of investment in Dublin’s rail network, with potential to be transformative. As part of our Infrastructure Series of events, Jim Meade, the CEO of Irish Rail will give Chamber members a briefing on the project at a 12pm webinar on Friday 16th October. Bookings open soon, so keep an eye on our events page.


The Future of Apprenticeships - Help Shape Our Submission
 

Ireland’s apprenticeship offering has significantly evolved in recent years and is set to be a focus for new Education Minister Simon Harris, as he outlined during last week's Chamber webinar.

 

Minister Harris' Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is now holding a public consultation on the Apprenticeship Action Plan 2021-2025. The Chamber will be making a submission in response to the consultation and members are welcome to provide their feedback on the current apprenticeship structure, the supports that businesses need to take on apprentices, and how the process of developing new apprenticeship programmes can be improved. Contact sinead@dublinchamber.ie with your input.

 

Further information on the consultation can be found at apprenticeship.ie and the consultation paper on the Apprenticeship Action Plan 2021-2025 can be found here.


Plenty Of Great Webinars Coming Up
 

We have a number of great webinars lined up over the coming weeks that you wont want to miss.

  • Wednesday 16th September - Tax Returns 101, sponsored by Taxback.com. With Marian Ryan, Consumer Tax Manager from Taxback.com and Petar Bogdanov, Irish Tax Expert. Register here. 

  • Thursday 17th September - Consumer Insights: How Google Trends Can Help You Understand Consumer Demand. Register now

  • Tuesday 22nd September - Maximise Your Dublin Chamber Membership. Register here

  • Tuesday 29th September - The Future of Work - A Virtual Workspace with Enterprise Solutions. Book now. 

  • Wednesday 30th September & 2nd of October - Sustainability 101 Workshop. Book your place now.  

For more details on all of our upcoming events click here... 


Did You Miss A Webinar This Week?
 

On Wednesday we had our latest Momentum Series, webinar, sponsored by Ulster Bank. Our speakers discussed the challenges and opportunities they were faced with in scaling their companies. We were joined by Jo Browne, Founder and Owner of Jo Browne Beauty, Lauren Oliver, Founder of Olly Olly & Co and Garret Flower, CEO & Co-Founder of ParkOffice. Watch back here. 

 

Our Monday Wellness webinars are back, and kicked off with Irish mountaineer Derek Mahon. He discussed what motivates him to climb some of the world's highest and most challenging mountains - including the highest mountain in the world. Catch up here. 

 


Are You Ready For Brexit? Gov't Publishes Action Plan
 

The Government this week published its Brexit Readiness Action Plan. This call to action outlines a broad range of changes that will occur in less than four months’ time, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations. It provides clear and concise advice on steps that need to be taken now by businesses and individuals in order to prepare for the end of the Transition Period on 31st December 2020. The plan can be read in full here.


More News
Sodexo Appoints New MD
 

David Fox has been appointed as managing director of Sodexo Ireland. His new role will focus on evolving the firm's country strategy, incorporating the ‘rise with Sodexo’ programme and ensuring the safety of people, which is at the forefront of Sodexo’s core values. Read more. 

 

 


New Griffith College Courses
 

Griffith College is offering eight Higher Education Authority (HEA) Springboard+ funded programmes for Autumn 2020. These courses include Accounting, Building Information Modelling and Big Data Management. The programmes range from level 6 to level 9 and are fully funded for an unemployed person while employed learners will pay 10% of the fee, with Springboard+ paying the balance. Read more here. 

 


A Transformed Economy
Member Webinar
 

Leading economist, Professor Stephen Kinsella will discuss the impact of a transformed economic and business environment on international supply and demand at this webinar with DLA Piper. Tune in on Thursday 17th September at 2pm where you will also hear from Caoimhe Clarkin and Mark Rasdale. Register here

 

 

 


AIB Funding for SMEs
 

AIB has been allocated an initial €270m in low-cost Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme funding for small and medium enterprises. The scheme, made available by the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation and operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, is a financial solution that will see AIB backing businesses to fuel the economic recovery. 


AIB backs businesses for economic recovery with low-cost flexible Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

 

AIB has been allocated an initial €270m in low-cost Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme funding for small and medium enterprises, primary producers and small mid-cap companies with employment of up to 499 that have been impacted by Covid-19.  The scheme, made available by the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation and operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, is a financial solution that will see AIB backing businesses to fuel the economic recovery.  AIB has applied for a further allocation under the SBCI’s open call.

 

Among the key elements of the funding tailored to benefit businesses which have been impacted by Covid-19 are:

·         A maximum variable interest rate of 2.75% per annum

·         Loan amounts of €10,000-€1,000,000

·         Terms from one year and up to 5.5 years

·         Under State aid rules a fee is charged by government for participation

AIB has created an SBCI hub for small and medium businesses to find out more about the Credit Guarantee Scheme, and to apply for financial solutions (www.aib.ie/SBCI ). The scheme will be available until December 2020 on a first come, first served basis for companies who have experienced an adverse impact of a minimum of 15% in actual or projected turnover or profit due to Covid-19.  No security will be required for loans of up to €250,000.

 

AIB Chief Executive Officer Colin Hunt said “Covid-19 has had an enormously damaging impact on the Irish economy, particularly to indigenous enterprises.  We are working closely with the Government and the SBCI to ensure our small and medium businesses are adequately funded to allow them recover, preserve jobs and create future employment.  As the largest Credit Guarantee Scheme in the history of the State, this enables us to offer rates that are significantly lower than those currently on offer in the market. They will allow businesses breathing space and the opportunity to adapt and grow their businesses, all at low cost”. 

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said “The past few months have been extremely difficult for Irish businesses. We have seen our small and medium enterprises work hard to adapt and to continue trading in the face of this profound disruption. The Government is determined to help businesses as they operate in a fundamentally changed trading environment. 

“This Scheme will provide low cost loans from €10,000 to €1 million to businesses, in addition to the grants that are already available. Businesses can apply directly to a participating bank. Under the scheme the Government will provide an 80% guarantee for the loan. This unprecedented measure will ensure businesses have access to the finance they need at this unprecedented time.”

 

Nick Ashmore, Chief Executive of the SBCI said “The €2bn Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme represents a significant increase in Government support for SMEs and Primary Producers in Ireland. The SBCI is delighted to work with AIB in delivering the scheme. This together with recent enhancements to the Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme and Future Growth Loan Scheme will help SMEs address the challenges they face now and in the future as a result of the pandemic”

 

AIB also continues to accept applications under the enhanced Future Growth Loan Scheme at www.aib.ie/sbci

 

AIB’s commitment to a sustainable recovery in the Irish economy

·         This funding follows a €500 million top up of the SBCI FGLS scheme which was made available in June 2020, bringing the total available to Irish businesses to €800 million. To date AIB has sanctioned over €620m in SBCI funding, including €97m in Future Growth Loan Scheme funding.

·         Introduced a wide range of customer initiatives in response to Covid-19, including c. 64,000 payment breaks implemented for our retail banking customers, giving our customers much needed respite.  We have dedicated supports tailored for our customers as they come off their payment breaks, with the widest range of customer solutions of any Irish bank.

·         AIB has recently committed €300 million to a nationwide social housing fund.  This will give people the keys to 2,000 homes across the country.

·         Collaboration with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to establish a research hub that will accelerate TCD’s immunology project in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. Our investment of €2.4m has enabled the launch of the AIB Covid-19 research hub.

 

Fee charged to customers in addition to the loan interest rate



SME

 

Small Mid-cap

Term of Facility (Years)

Premium (per year)

 

Term of Facility (Years)

Premium (per year)

Longer than 5 years

0.68%

Longer than 5 years

1.55%

Equal to or shorter than 5 years but longer than 4 years

0.61%

Equal to or shorter than 5 years but longer than 4 years

1.40%

Equal to or shorter than 4 years but longer than 3 years

0.50%

Equal to or shorter than 4 years but longer than 3 years

1.19%

Equal to or shorter than 3 years but longer than 2 years

0.29%

Equal to or shorter than 3 years but longer than 2 years

0.73%

Equal to or shorter than 2 years but longer than 1 year

0.26%

Equal to or shorter than 2 years but longer than 1 year

0.63%

Up to and including 1 year

0.15%

Up to and including 1 year

0.30%

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: “AIB launches low-cost, flexible Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme loans.  Pictured are AIB Chief Executive Officer Colin Hunt, Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, and AIB Managing Director of Corporate, Institutional and Business Banking Cathy Bryce.”