Marqeta Survey: Over Half of SMBs Are Owed up to £75,000 Each Month in Outstanding Invoices

  • 36% of SMB leaders surveyed reported that they are reliant on funds tied up in unpaid invoices to remain solvent.
  • Outstanding invoices are slowing small business growth, with 40% of SMBs saying they would spend the money on recruitment if paid on time.
  • Almost half of business owners surveyed reported that they are unaware that B2B buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services offer financing alternatives for businesses, which could help them smooth cash flow.

LONDON--()--The highest levels of inflation seen in decades are squeezing small businesses and creating an opportunity to reinvent how they access working capital, according to a new survey published today by Marqeta, the global modern card issuing platform. The company’s Small business financing done differently’ research draws upon interviews with hundreds of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) across Europe, looking at the opportunities for BNPL use by businesses as a mechanism to make access to capital easier without increasing overall debt risk.

Marqeta’s research finds that over half (55%) of SMBs surveyed have between £10k and £75k owed to them by customers every month, with one-third (36%) of businesses saying that they need those funds to remain solvent. Given the severity of these liquidity concerns, business leaders are currently spending valuable time and resources away from their core business duties to focus on critical finance-related admin, with almost 75% of business leaders surveyed stating that they are reliant on handling invoicing in-house either by themselves (21%), or through the use of an internal accountant (50%). Just over half of businesses surveyed said they were being paid in 30 days, with a further one-third waiting 60 days for payment from clients, a remaining 14% stating they could be waiting 90 days or longer.

With over £23 billion owed to businesses in late payments in the UK alone, the findings highlight both the difference these funds can have in whether a small business stays afloat or goes under, as well as untapped potential for growth across the economy. When asked how they’d use the funds owed to them if they weren’t tied up in outstanding invoices, almost half of respondents (44%) said they would spend the money upgrading their technology, and a further 40% that they would recruit more staff. The findings suggest that monies owed on invoices are currently preventing small businesses from growing with a further 22% of respondents stating they would expand their physical or online footprint, 28% undertaking more marketing activities, and 20% stating they would spend more with suppliers.

Difficulties accessing finance

Circumstances created by the pandemic have meant that the number of businesses taking on debt has grown. Recent data from the FSB showed that SMBs in the UK alone are collectively carrying around £36 billion more in debt compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet while the demand for credit is high, accessing it is still a struggle for many small and medium businesses.

With liquidity a concern for businesses across the board, BNPL allows businesses to borrow to pay a specific bill, supporting innovation and enabling expansion through the purchasing of products and services without committing to a full payment up front, but nearly half (43%) of SMBs surveyed are unaware of this potential option. Lack of awareness also proved to be the most common barrier to BNPL take-up with 25% of respondents believing that BNPL wasn’t for businesses like theirs and a further 25% feeling it was too risky.

“Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business but our survey shows that a huge number of SMBs are finding that access to capital has become cumbersome and expensive,” explained Jeff Parker, SVP International, Marqeta. “Drawing from what we’ve seen happen across the consumer space, we expect the same level of lending innovation to help SMBs navigate challenging credit markets. The findings from our survey suggests that while B2B BNPL options could be a big part of this change, there is currently a major awareness issue, which if addressed could greatly accelerate adoption.”

About the survey

Marqeta surveyed 522 small business employees in seven countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK. All respondents were employed full-time and had purchasing responsibilities, three-quarters were engaged at manager or director level. 80% worked in businesses that employed 500 people or fewer and had annual revenues of up to £99 million, but typically turnover was between £1 and 19 million.

About Marqeta

Marqeta’s modern card issuing platform empowers its customers to create customized and innovative payment cards. Marqeta’s platform, powered by open APIs, gives its customers the ability to build more configurable and flexible payment experiences, accelerating product development and democratizing access to card issuing technology. Its modern architecture provides instant access to highly scalable, cloud-based payment infrastructure that enables customers to launch and manage their own card programs, issue cards and authorize and settle transactions. Marqeta is headquartered in Oakland, California and is certified to operate in 40 countries globally. For more information, visit, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements expressed or implied in this press release include, but are not limited to, quotations and statements relating to changing consumer preferences; increasing consumer adoption of certain digital payment methods, products, and solutions; which payment, banking, and financial services products and solutions may succeed; technological and market trends; Marqeta’s business; Marqeta’s products and services; and statements made by Marqeta’s senior leadership. Actual results may differ materially from the expectations contained in these statements due to risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the following: any factors creating issues with changes in domestic business, market, financial, political and legal conditions; the effect of and uncertainties related to the global COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. and global economies and demand for Marqeta’s services and products; the uncertainties and direct and indirect effects of the significant military action against Ukraine launched by Russia, including threats of attacks against U.S. financial institutions as retaliation against financial institutions for sanctions imposed against Russia; the risk that Marqeta is unable to further attract and grow its customer base; the risk that consumers will not perceive the benefits of Marqeta’s products and services, including digital payment and banking products and services; the risk that Marqeta's products and services do not operate as intended, including digital payment and banking products and services; the risk that Marqeta’s products and solutions will not achieve the expected market acceptance, including digital payment and banking products and services; and the risk that competition could reduce expected demand for Marqeta’s products and services, including digital payment and banking products and services. Detailed information about these risks and other factors that could potentially affect Marqeta’s business, financial condition and results of operations are included in the “Risk Factors” disclosed in Marqeta's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as such risk factors may be updated from time to time in Marqeta’s periodic filings with the SEC, available at and Marqeta’s website at The forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information available to Marqeta as of the date hereof. Marqeta disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, except as required by law.


James Robinson


James Robinson