As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to create challenges for small and medium businesses (SMBs) across Canada, Visa (NYSE: V) has released its Back to Business study finding that one-third (33%) of Canadian small businesses do not consider their local community supportive of their business during this difficult time. In an effort to get local communities back to business in the wake of the pandemic, Visa Canada is shining a light on small businesses through its #MySmallBizReco campaign as well as introducing new programs and solutions to enable SMBs to drive efficiency and sales through acceptance of digital payments and expanding businesses online.
“The Canadian economy will not bounce back until small businesses bounce back,” said Stacey Madge, country manager and president, Visa Canada. “Small businesses are the heart of local communities, and they have shown tremendous resilience since the onset of COVID-19. While the road ahead remains uncertain, today we are focused on building simple and effective tools that support digital enablement to help small business owners not only survive, but also thrive.”
In good times and challenging ones alike, small businesses power the Canadian economy. They account for more than half of global employment and are among the most affected by the pandemic. While (77%) of Canadian SMBs are optimistic about the future, their top two concerns following the COVID-19 pandemic are not having the same revenue as before COVID-19 (52%) and attracting new customers (38%). Yet, in the face of this optimism, Canadian SMBs estimate it will be an average of 10 months before their business is back to being fully operational, the longest of all countries surveyed.
As part of Visa Canada’s ongoing commitment to championing SMBs across Canada, #MySmallBizReco is a national initiative encouraging consumers to recommend the places they love to shop, whether it’s in their local communities or a “hidden gem” they discovered online. A diverse group of influencers and celebrities will encourage consumers to support and recommend their favourite small businesses across Canada. According to Visa’s research, the top three reasons for Canadians to shop local are to support the local economy (59%), proximity/convenience (48%), and better customer service (26%).
As part of ongoing efforts to support SMBs, Visa Canada is focused on four key areas to promote digital commerce and support economic growth, with plans to continue to evolve product and service offering as the needs of Canadian entrepreneurs continue to change. These areas include:
- Promoting local merchants: The Visa Back to Business Project is an online tool that helps consumers identify businesses that are open in the wake of the pandemic or any other occurrence that could result in store closures.
- Empowering digital-first businesses: The newly launched Visa Small Business Hub offers localized and centralized online access to information on how to start, run and grow a digital-first small business. The Hub offers solutions and guidance around building a website, selling online, accepting payments, and promoting businesses online. Visa has also teamed up with Shopify, Wix, and WordPress.com as well as Visa’s own small business payments platform Authorize.Net, to provide deals, and educational resources on financing, expenses, building an ecommerce website and more.
- Supporting business growth with marketing: As a Google Partner, Kliken is offering Visa cardholders a credit towards Google Ads valued at up to $150 for advertising on Google. Business owners who are looking to quickly and easily reach customers online and drive sales revenue can benefit from this offer, allowing businesses to get in front of customers during the search process.
- Encouraging digital payments: Major shifts in consumer behaviour have occurred, including the overarching need for a touchless experience at the point-of-sale.
Since COVID-19 began, more than two-thirds of Canadians (76%) have slowed down or completely stopped their cash usage when making payments. The majority of Canadians also think using a contactless payment method is among the most important safety measure for stores to follow (54%) and two in five (40%) Canadian consumers would not shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or shared devices. Deploying contactless payment technology 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. This follows Visa Canada’s contactless tap limit increase from $100 to $250.
Visa is committed to helping SMBs bounce back. As a company that enables digital payments at more than 61 million merchant locations around the world, Visa’s priority is to help small businesses thrive. Today’s announcement follows a global commitment from the Visa Foundation to provide $210 million in COVID-19 relief funding to address the longer-term needs of small and micro businesses over the next five years by digitally enabling 50 million businesses to power recovery in communities worldwide.