Top 3 ways businesses are growing in 2023

Hannah McGrath

Ramp is a partner of Wise and a leading finance operations platform that brings together spend management, price intelligence, and finance automation to help companies save time and money. We’ve teamed up with Ramp to provide valuable data insights to our shared customers on 3 key trends for global businesses.

Learn more about Ramp

To track key trends in business spending, Ramp publishes a quarterly report based on thousands of aggregated, anonymized transactions made on Ramp cards and invoices paid through Ramp Bill Pay across $1 billion per month.

But what are the most notable trends that emerged in Ramp’s Q1 data, and what can they tell us about where businesses are prioritising their spend to drive growth?

Read the full report

1.Going global: Business travel goes skyward

A sharp rise in travel was a standout trend in Q1, as businesses hiked spending on in-person collaboration and travel further afield, including overseas, to access new opportunities for growth and to counter the impact of inflation and rising interest rates at home.

Global data from Wise Business customers bears this out, with 300,000+ business customers transacting with Wise for their cross border spend, send and receive needs.

In fact, when Ramp compared card spend in Q1 2023 to the same period in 2022, travel was up 14% - the biggest increase of any expense category for this quarter. Of the top ten business outgoings in Q1, airlines accounted for 3.7% and lodging 4.7% of overall card spend.

This increased appetite for corporate travel was also reflected in the list of top 10 vendors for Q1, with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines all featuring.

It seems that businesses are also returning to pre-pandemic attitudes to accommodation: business spending on Airbnb has plummeted since last year, while appeared as a top vendor in the travel and entertainment category in Q1 2023, signalling a winding down of the preference for self-contained accommodation.

Travel and entertainment spending rose in Q1 2023 compared to Q1’ 22 across all company sizes, confirming this trend as widespread. Small SMBs saw card spend increase from 11% to 15%, large SMBs saw an increase of 9% to 13% and mid-market players saw a jump from 9% to 13%.

Post-pandemic, the return to international travel and transactions means businesses need to plan for expenses management and cross-border payments in order to scale.

Learn more about Wise Business

2.Fund diversification

The first half of 2023 has been marked by economic instability, with rising inflation and a crisis in the banking sector reshaping the financial landscape for companies in the US.

Businesses sought to weather the storm clouds by diversifying their funds, and moving money to new banks and FinTech providers. Ramp’s data shows that businesses shifted holdings to a number of new providers, with Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley seeing the biggest gains between the 9th and 31st of March, with assets increasing as much as 3x.

Between February and March, the number of bank accounts connected to Ramp spiked, before bank flows levelled off in late March. Subsequent troubles for lenders have produced spikes in bank flows, the data shows.

To help its business customers meet rising costs connected to inflation and increased interest rates, Wise is giving them the chance to switch their USD balances to Interest and earn 4.13% APY. The opt-in feature gives customers instant access to their funds and FDIC passthrough insurance up to $250,000.

3.Growth in investment

Despite the headwinds, Ramp’s report shows that businesses are continuing to invest in growth.The categories businesses are spending most on include office costs and supplies, professional services and SaaS/software, all of which are commonly correlated with business expansion. The number of businesses spending with AI vendors also saw a spike in early Q1, with many following the interest in the potential of AI-powered technologies following Microsoft’s $10b investment in OpenAI.

Overall, Ramp saw a rise in median spend in Q1, signalling continued confidence among US businesses despite economic challenges. Card spend was up 17% from February to March.

However, the median number of days taken to pay invoices rose significantly, from 4 to 11 days between Q1’22 and Q1’23, suggesting pressure on cashflow and increased admin across businesses of all sizes.

For small businesses looking to streamline their admin, Wise has developed a range of free invoice and business tool templates.

Download free invoice template

Commenting on the findings of its benchmark spending report, Fiona Lee, head of content at Ramp, said: “At Ramp, we believe in democratising our spend data to help business leaders make smarter decisions about where to invest their resources, said Fiona Lee, Head of Content at Ramp. "It's a reflection of our strong belief that we only succeed when our customers do."

Steve Naudé, head of Wise Platform said: "It’s fascinating to see the results of Ramp’s Q1 spending report, which is full of great insights showing us where businesses are choosing to spend in order to drive growth. It’s no surprise to us at Wise Platform to see that travel and international expansion have become a key path to growth, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Ramp.”

Read the full Q1 report

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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