The pandemic has changed how SMBs work for good

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Visa has announced that is has helped digitally-enable an estimated 16m SMBs worldwide which is just over 30 percent of its multi-year goal, set last year, to digitize 50m small and micro businesses.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the payments giant has launched community-based programs from Dubai to DC to help small businesses accept digital payments and gain greater access to the digital economy.

According to the fifth edition of the company's Visa Back to Business global study, 68 percent of consumers surveyed said that the pandemic has permanently changed how they plan to pay for good and services, stressing the need for SMBs to adopt digital payments.

Global head of buyer, seller, core and platform products at Visa, Mary Kay Bowman provided further insight on the results of the study in a press release, saying:

“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. 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.”

Changing how SMBs do business  

By surveying SMB owners and their customers since the onset of the pandemic, Visa's Back to Business study has shed light on how adopting digital-first technologies has helped change how SMBs work.

Of those surveyed, almost three fourths (74%) of SMBs around the world expect customers will continue using contactless payments either as much or more than they do now with 40 percent of respondents citing contactless among the top investments needed to meet customer expectations.

Not offering contactless payments can also be a hindrance for small businesses as more than two in five (44%) of consumers surveyed said they wouldn't shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or a shared device such as a POS system.

As SMBs moved their businesses online for the first time during the pandemic, this shift has presented new challenges with 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%). Although many SMBs said the past year has been a challenge for their businesses, almost half (46%) viewed it as an opportunity.

Digital payments and ecommerce offerings have now become the norm and SMBs that want to continue growing their businesses will need to invest further to ensure they can retain their current customers while also gaining new ones.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.