Visa (NYSE: V) today 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 digitize 50 million SMBs. Since the start of the pandemic, Visa has launched community-based programs from Dubai to DC, 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. 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.
- Prioritizing Online Security: One year ago, just 17% of US SMBs started selling products or services online for the first time during COVID-19 and now, 57% expect to continue to do so in the next three months. Yet, 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
Recognizing that greater digitization 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. With 3.4 million new U.S. business applications filed in the first seven months of 2021 alone, Visa’s efforts are focused on ensuring both existing and newly minted small businesses are well-equipped to meet changing consumer demands and embrace the digital future.
From London to North Dakota, Visa has directed resources to SMBs through dozens of programs tailored to fit the needs of local communities. Among them, Visa has committed more than $1 million in hyperlocal grants to U.S. SMB owners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, deployed Small Business Street Teams to 900,000 businesses in 18 markets, and transformed payment acceptance in 49 markets with Visa Tap to Phone, which enables sellers to accept contactless payments through a simple mobile app. Visa also expanded its global digital education platform for entrepreneurs, Practical Business Skills, which delivers free education resources to SMB owners and to support the digital transformation of their businesses. This builds on a $200 million, 5-year commitment from the Visa Foundation made in 2020 to support SMBs around the world, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement.
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.
Methodology: Visa Back to Business Study
The Visa Back to Business Study: 5th Edition, was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 15-28, 2021, among 2,250 small business owners at companies with 100 employees or fewer in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and United States. The consumer portion surveyed 1,000 adults ages 18+ in the U.S., and 500 adults ages 18+ in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.
 Source: US Contactless Online Research Study April 2020
 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Business Formation Statistics