Visa announced a commitment to support 10 million small businesses across Asia Pacific in an effort to get local communities back to business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visa is introducing a range of programs and solutions to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) drive efficiency and sales by accepting and making payments digitally to meet increased demand for cashless payments—both online and in-store. Visa also formed the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) focused on economic and societal issues, including pandemic challenges SMEs face, and closing racial and gender opportunity gaps.
The 10 million pledge is part of a global program that will see Visa supporting 50 million small businesses worldwide. Small businesses will play a vital role in helping communities recover—they account for more than half of global employment and are among the most affected by the pandemic. In Asia Pacific, SMEs account for more than 90 per cent of businesses and employ 50 per cent of the workforce
In addition to the economic impacts, COVID-19 is accelerating the use of digital commerce experiences, from people seeking new ways to pay that do not involve touching a terminal to a boom in eCommerce, as stay-home orders result in shopping online instead of in-store. In Asia Pacific, 41% of consumers made five or more eCommerce transactions in the past three months.Three quarters of consumers in the region have said they will keep using digital payments instead of going back to cash, even after the global pandemic has subsided.
To help small businesses, Visa is focusing initially on four strategic areas to promote digital commerce and economic growth, with plans to continue to create products and services as the needs of entrepreneurs change over time. These areas include:
- Empowering digital-first businesses: Visa has built localised online resource centres—now available in more than 20 countries and territories—providing tools, partner offers and information on how to start, run and grow a digital small business.
- Encouraging digital payments: Deploying easy to adopt touchless payment technology – rapidly, and at scale – is critical to enabling faster, more secure commerce. Visa is working to introduce low-cost digital payments acceptance, including solutions that do not require point-of-sale systems and can enable a merchant’s mobile phone to become a payment terminal. Visa is also supporting SMEs to make business-to-business (B2B) payments digitally. By digitalising procurement payments through the use of a Visa Business Card, SMEs can utilise reconciliation tools and benefit from higher efficiency and data insights, in addition to managing their working capital effectively.
- Incentivising neighborhood support: Visa partnerships encourage consumers to shop local and remind them that whereyou shop matters. The Visa Back to Business Project—an online tool that helps consumers identify businesses that may be open in the wake of the pandemic or a natural disaster—is now live in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S., and further expanding globally. Visa has launched its new ‘Where You Shop Matters’ initiative that champions and enables entrepreneurs while encouraging consumers to support small businesses in Asia Pacific markets including the Philippines.
- Developing positioning and policy: The new Visa Economic Empowerment Institute comprises Visa experts and partners who will help address underlying problems and provide insights for SMEs growth and closing racial and gender gaps. Key projects in the next six months will address topics including post-crisis recovery and resilience, urban mobility, closing equality opportunity gaps, and insights into the gig economy.
This announcement follows a global commitment from the Visa Foundation announced in April, to provide USD 210 million in COVID-19 relief funding to address the longer-term needs of the small and micro business community over the next five years.