Across the globe we’re settling into a new normal – an immedate acceleration of digital shopping – which has dramatically changed the way we live, work and buy. It has impacted how we spend, send and use money, with a tsunami-like ripple effect on many parts of the global economy. In Asia Pacific, eCommerce orders grew by 23% year-on-year between March 22 to April 4, while retailers saw online orders surge by 82% during the same time period as a result of store closures, limited in-store inventory and shelter-in-place orders.
While businesses of all sizes have been impacted, small businesses are in a particularly tough situation. While these sellers may be small, they play a critical role in the lives of their customers, employees and partners and helping them has a broad ripple effects on their communities and economies. This is especially true for Asia Pacific, where SMEs account for more than 90 per cent of businesses, according to the World Bank, and employ 50 per cent of the workforce.
Globally, Visa and our partners connect more than 61 million merchant locations. This puts us in a unique position to help businesses drive sales in this critical moment. Leveraging our network, our partners and our products we can help sellers get online easily to reach more customers; we can share data and insights to help businesses build their brands; and we can help buyers and sellers work together through uncertainty.
While today’s challenges may be new, Visa has been solving payment pain points for buyers and sellers for over 60 years. Collectively, our business and our brand are laser-focused on leading economic recovery efforts in the weeks and months ahead, helping businesses everywhere navigate through these common challenges with requisite urgency.
Here are six truths we’re recognizing in this new normal and are using to help guide our product priorities to support sellers:
- Consumers are shifting to digital-first commerce – no matter what they’re buying. Leading companies and brands are already powering cohesive omnichannel strategies that integrate mobile, online and in-store commerce seamlessly. With in-store shopping severely limited across all categories of businesses, buyers are seeking out robust digital commerce experiences like never before. In India, 42% of Indians shared they had increased the use of digital payments for retail and eCommerce, and opted for contactless delivery of goods where possible. In South Korea, online credit card spending increased by 22% in March year-on-year while offline credit card spend dropped by 10% in the same time period. As millions of new buyers experience digital commerce for things like groceries, meals and household staples, expect these newly formed habits to last.
- Small businesses around the globe are seeking quick and immediate paths to recovery as many navigate the overnight move to digital commerce. Visa is uniquely positioned to help small businesses pivot and thrive as digital businesses, whether that means creating a new online presence or recognising the changing ways consumer are spending online. In an effort to get more SMEs online faster, Visa and Shopify are partnering to provide all Visa card holders in Australia a 3-month free subscription to the Shopify platform, helping to get them selling online quickly. Globally, our Fintech Fast Track program is helping small businesses that are innovating in the financial space get up and running fast and with dedicated Visa support.
- Sellers, partners, employees and customers need and expect secure, immediate access to funds digitally. As one of the most trusted payments network in the world, Visa delivers fast and secure money movement options that address pain points today. Through Visa Direct, companies can pay employees or gig workers quickly by moving money to their Visa debit cards in real time – which is more critical now than ever. We are also helping our clients make it easier for people when sending and receiving money to others – whether you’re a small business owner who needs funds for business or someone who needs to send or receive money from friends or family, both domestically and around the globe. Earlier this month, we added South Korea to a growing list of markets in Asia Pacific that offer Visa Direct, including Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.
- Contactless payment experiences are a necessity – avoiding contact while buying is better for health and safety. Visa is a world leader in contactless transacting, and we’re working with our partners to ensure that our capabilities are made widely available and updated specifically to help meet today’s challenges. For the transactions that still need to be made in person, we have doubled down on our contactless efforts around the world, including raising spending limits to enable a larger number of PIN-free purchases in ~40 countries. In Asia Pacific, we have supported governments and our partners in their decisions to raise contactless limits in markets including Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.
- Businesses need the right data and insights to drive their decisions. Visa provides access to data and analytics that help our clients and partners understand the impact and effectiveness of the critical decisions they are making today. We are helping online sellers deal with an influx of activity by assessing purchase risks for them, drawing on data from billions of worldwide transactions. Putting our network to work, we’re providing consumers with a way to support local businesses with our #WhereYouShopMatters campaign in Australia, We built an online directory of regional small businesses, making it easier for consumers to locate and support them.
- Buyers and sellers are seeking transparency and protections. As this crisis has unfolded, many plans changed quickly, events were cancelled and destinations were closed or became inaccessible. This has brought about a significant increase in disputes between buyers and sellers. To help resolve these disputes as quickly and effectively as possible, Visa launched a COVID-19 Dispute Monitoring Program on 1 April, 2020. Through Verifi, we also offer services that can help prevent disputes and resolve disputes before they become chargebacks. For clients and sellers not already using Verifi, we’ve made sure that our implementation is turnkey and can happen in a matter of hours or days, depending on the service and merchant.
Visa is committed to helping businesses implement complete solutions that protect both consumers and sellers in an increasingly digital-first world. Our team is working around the clock and around the globe to deliver products and services that can help businesses find new paths to survive and thrive in today’s remote world. In the weeks ahead, you’ll be hearing more from us about products, partnerships and solutions that address these challenges and help businesses immediately adapt.