Visa announced recently the list of programs and initiatives to assist small and medium businesses small and medium enterprises (SMEs)) in transitioning from traditional to digital payment systems. The financial services company is hoping to help 10 million SMBs across the Asia Pacific (APAC) and rally recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visa is introducing a range of programs and solutions to help SMEs drive efficiency and sales by accepting and making payments digitally to meet the 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 as recognition of their role in helping communities recover. In APAC, SMBs account for more than 90% of businesses and employ 50% of the workforce, according to a World Bank study.
“Commerce across the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, is shifting further into digital in the wake of COVID-19, from more people ordering essentials online to people looking for secure, touchless ways to pay in person,” said Dan Wolbert, country manager for the Philippines & Guam at Visa. “Visa’s role as a payments network means we can help SMEs adapt to these new ways of managing and growing their business, ensuring that these crucial players can recover.”
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.
Empowering digital-first businesses
Utilizing the localized centers it built, which are now available in more than 20 countries and territories, Visa is providing tools, linking businesses with partners, and giving them supplementary information on how to navigate the digital business ecosystem.
Encouraging digital payments
The financial services firm has accelerated its deployment of contactless payment technology as a response to the increasing demand for this option. Visa is working to introduce low-cost digital payment acceptance, including solutions that do not require point-of-sale systems and can enable a merchant’s mobile phone to become a payment terminal. By digitalizing procurement payments through the use of a Visa Business Card, SMEs can utilize reconciliation tools and benefit from higher efficiency and data insights. Visa has curated special partner offers for SMEs using these business cards, which include access to cloud accounting platforms, digital marketing, and professional courses.
Incentivizing neighborhood support
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 United States, and further expanding globally. Visa has launched its new “Where You Shop Matters” initiative in Australia and New Zealand that enables entrepreneurs while encouraging consumers to support small businesses. Visa will be expanding the initiative to other Asia Pacific markets such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Developing positioning and policy
Visa created the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, which comprises Visa experts and partners who are tasked to 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.