Visa digitally enables 16m SMBs on path to reaching 50m goal worldwide

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Visa has announced it has helped to digitally-enable an estimated 16 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide, or just over 30% of the multi-year goal it set in 2020 to digitise 50 million SMBs. Since the start of the pandemic, Visa has launched community-based initiatives across the UK and worldwide, to help more small businesses accept digital payments and gain greater access to the digital economy. The necessity for SMBs to continue to digitally accelerate is underscored by the 5th edition of the Visa Back to Business global study released today, which found that 68% of consumers say COVID-19 has permanently changed how they will pay.

“With a 19-month view into the pandemic, we’ve seen that small businesses who embraced digital commerce and cross-border sales have weathered the pandemic better,” said Mary Kay Bowman, global head of buyer, seller, core and platform products, Visa. “But it’s no longer just about pivoting and surviving. We’re now seeing a hopeful surge in entrepreneurship, and as we march toward our goal of 50 million, we’re helping a new breed of business owner come online as digitally-native for the first time.”

Visa Back to Business Study: A Global Pulse on Payment Preferences

The Visa Back to Business global research study has surveyed SMB owners and their customers since the onset of the global pandemic. With an extensive body of sentiment data accumulated through five editions, findings from the newest study highlight the economic opportunity that lies in connecting SMBs, communities and technology:

  • SMBs Still Working to Meet Consumer Expectations: The pandemic has dramatically increased consumers’ concern with touching cash and payment readers and correspondingly, increased the desire to tap to pay[1]. Seventy-four (74%) percent of SMBs around the world expect customers will continue to prefer contactless payments as much as, or more than they do now, with two in five (40%) SMBs citing contactless among the top investments needed to meet customer expectations.
  • Contactless as a Competitive Edge: Stores that don’t accept contactless payments could run an increased risk of losing customers as a result. More than two in five (44%) consumers say they wouldn’t shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or shared device. Previous research from Visa also found that, of the UK small businesses surveyed which were confident of bouncing back from the pandemic, two thirds (67%) said that their in-store experience for customers has improved due to the acceptance contactless and digital payments.[2]
  • Prioritising Online Security: Many SMBs surveyed said the shift presented new challenges with the top concerns cited as data privacy and security (33%), cost to invest in digital infrastructure (31%) and having less of a personal connection with customers (30%).
  • Opportunity Knocks for New, Digitally-Savvy SMBs: While 54% of SMBs say the past year has been a challenge for their business, 46% have viewed it as an opportunity, up from 38% in November 2020. Among those who saw 2020 as an opportunity, their focus has been on new products (37%) and expanding their sales channels (34%), with 23% having started a completely new business.

Unlocking Access to the Digital Economy

Recognising thatgreater digitisation of commerce can bring enormous benefits to small businesses, Visa seeks to bring increased digital equity and inclusivity to the world through its multi-year commitment to digitally enable 50 million SMBs.

In the UK, Visa is working closely with its network of industry, technology and community partners to digitally enable small businesses impacted by pandemic.  Among them, Visa’s support of ShopAppy.com at the beginning of the pandemic helped to achieve an 166% increase in merchants signing up to the e-commerce platform and 168 towns registered, up from 29 towns before the partnership[3]. Meanwhile, Visa’s backing of Totally Locally’s Fiver Fest resulted in 68% of participating businesses seeing an increase in footfall and three in five (62%) seeing an increase in sales[4].

Visa will continue to celebrate the expansive role SMBs play within local communities and the global economy, starting with the launch of a new digital series today, “Voices of Access,” featuring SMB customers from around the world sharing their unique stories and empowering others to see the possibilities of the digital economy.

More information on the initiatives Visa has made available to small and micro businesses is available on the Visa Small Business Hub and the Visa Small Business COVID-19 support site.