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How payments and technology open doors for small businesses in Asia Pacific

The health of small and medium businesses (SMBs) is critical to Asia Pacific. While each SMB may be small, together they make up more than 95 percent of all businesses in Asia Pacific and employ over half of local workforces. SMBs also contribute heavily to national income, and play a vital role in creating jobs, fostering innovation, and promoting competition.

SMBs in Asia Pacific have weathered serious challenges in recent years: first the pandemic, and now increasing economic uncertainty. Yet even in the face of challenges, Visa’s latest Back to Business Study found that most SMBs in Asia Pacific are optimistic about the future of their business, with technology and payments unlocking new opportunities for them.

SMBs get their mojo back

The annual study surveyed SMBs (defined as businesses with <100 employees) in selected Asia Pacific markets: Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. This year’s study found 85 percent of SMBs were optimistic or extremely optimistic about the future of their business.

Growing trust in tech and payments is helping fuel that optimism. Adopting new technology, especially payments, is seen as key to growth. More than 1 in 3 (39%) of SMBs said accepting new forms of payment is the best opportunity to reach new customers and grow.

SMBs are also confident they can adapt with the times. Ninety-two percent of SMBs were completely or very confident they could evolve their businesses and keep up with changes in technology and consumer preferences.

Opening doors to capital

Beyond access to new customers, adopting new payments solves a key roadblock for SMBs: capital access. The World Bank estimates SMBs from Asia Pacific and East Asia represent 46 percent of the global SMB financing gap, the largest share of all regions.

In the study, more than 1 in 4 SMBs (27%) also cited capital access as their biggest challenge.

SMBs must be able to access finance to support their business growth. With 36 percent of surveyed businesses identifying shifting consumer behaviour as their biggest challenge, it’s also crucial they have the capital to evolve and meet consumer expectations.

Visa’s cards help SMBs access capital more easily and with less hassle. For instance, SMBs can pay upfront with 55 days interest-free on their outstanding payables through a Visa card.

Reaching more customers at home and abroad

To grow, SMBs in Asia Pacific need to reach new customers. According to the Visa research, 39 percent of SMBs believe accepting new forms of payment is the best opportunity to achieve that. In fact, 88 percent cited selling across country borders as the top, or one of the top opportunities for growth.

The findings aren’t so surprising, given payments can literally connect SMBs to the world. By accepting more forms of payment, SMBs can cater for, and market to, a global customer base.

Almost all businesses surveyed plan to accept some form of contactless payment option in 2023, led by mobile payment apps and wallets, biometrics, and contactless cards.

Offering trusted payment methods can get more people through the door. Past Visa research among SMBs1 showed that 50 percent of customers globally are more likely to enter a store when they see Visa acceptance signage. Sixty percent are more likely to make a purchase.

To get more businesses set up more quickly, Visa launched its Acceptance Fast Track Program in Asia Pacific. Starting in May 2022, Visa onboarded 100,000 merchants in one year, connecting them to facilitators and acquirers.

A bright future for SMBs in Asia Pacific

Visa believes that even the smallest businesses can have big futures. When SMBs flourish, so do the people and communities around them.

Visa wants to help SMBs thrive at every step in their growth journey. In a world where commerce is always on and more digital than ever, there are still more doors that Visa and our technology can unlock for SMBs in Asia Pacific.

Visit the Visa Asia Pacific Small Business Hub to learn more about how Visa can help.


1 The Valuable Opportunities of Card Acceptance study, 2021

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