Visa announced a global commitment to elevate 50 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide in an effort to get local communities back to business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visa is introducing a range of locally designed programs and solutions to enable SMBs to drive efficiency and sales through acceptance of digital payments, building online businesses and incentivizing neighborhood support. As part of the global commitment, Visa also formed the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) focused on economic and societal issues, including pandemic challenges SMBs face and closing racial and gender opportunity gaps.
Small businesses will play a vital role in helping communities around the world recover – they account for more than half of global employment and yet, are among the most affected by the pandemic. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% of SMBs say they only have money to last six months and less than half of SMBs have any online business.
In addition to the economic impact, 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. How much people spend online is also increasing globally, with spend per active card-not-present cardholder up by over 25% in April, compared to January.
“Small businesses on the frontlines of the global economy deserve extraordinary support in this extraordinary time,” said Al Kelly, CEO and chairman of Visa. “We are putting our network to work to help 50 million businesses globally not only survive, but also to thrive, along with the communities they serve.”
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 localized online resource centers – now available in more than 20 countries– providing tools, partner offers and information on how to start, run and grow digital-first small businesses. Across European markets, Visa is investing to increase the number of digital payment acceptance devices within shops by more than 50%. In the U.S., Visa is expanding its partnership with IFundWomen providing grants and digital training to U.S.-based Black women-owned small businesses.
• Encouraging digital payments: Major shifts in consumer behavior have occurred around the globe, including the overarching need for a touchless experience at the point-of-sale as 90% of shoppers are hesitant to shop in-store due to coronavirus.4 Deploying easy to adopt contactless payment technology – rapidly, and at scale – is critical to enabling faster, more secure commerce. Visa is working with a range of partners to increase the number of locations where consumers can tap their contactless card or mobile phone. Starting in July, Visa street teams will visit merchants to provide “back to business” kits with new point-of-sale materials, branding, educational resources and special offers. The program will kick off in the 50 largest U.S. cities and expand globally to 15 countries including Singapore, Italy, and South Africa.
• Incentivizing neighborhood support: Visa partnerships encourage consumers to shop local and remind them that where you 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. In Europe and across Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, Visa has launched new SMB initiatives that champion and enable entrepreneurs while encouraging consumers to support small businesses. Visa is teaming up with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and restaurant delivery companies, including Deliveroo, to reward consumers for spending their money locally.
• Developing positioning and policy: In addition to the initiatives Visa is undertaking, the company today announced the formation of the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute. This new institute comprised of Visa experts and partners will help address underlying problems and provide insights for SMB growth and closing racial/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.
Today’s announcement follows a global commitment from the Visa Foundation, announced in April, to provide $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.
As the trusted engine of commerce, Visa is committed to leveraging its global network of networks to help the world adapt, rebuild and get everyone back to business.