Visa programs aim to help 50M SMBs drive digital business

Visa is offering 50 million small and micro businesses a range of services to help them grow more efficiently, build their online footprints and promote neighborhood support, according to a news release. The company also formed its Visa Economic Empowerment Institute aimed at societal issues like closing racial and gender gaps, as well as solving problems created by the pandemic.

Visa said it will prioritize the following four strategic areas to build digital commerce and economic growth in coming months:

  • Empowering digital-first businesses: Visa has built localized online resource centers, which are currently operating in more than 20 countries, to offer tools and information on starting and growing a digital-first business. In Europe the company will increase the number of digital payment acceptance devices within shops by more than 50%. In the U.S., it will build on its IFundWomen partnership to give grants and digital training to U.S.-based Black women-owned small businesses.
  • Encouraging digital payments: The company said increased pandemic-era demand globally for touchless interactions worldwide has prompted it to deploy contactless payment technology rapidly, and at scale by working with partners to increase contactless and mobile phone payment locations. This July, Visa “street teams” will provide “back to business” kits with new POS materials, branding, educational resources and special offers to merchants. 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: 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 the U.S., Australia and New Zealand and the U.S. 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. The company is also working with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and restaurant delivery companies, including Deliveroo, to reward consumers for spending their money locally.
  • Developing positioning and policy: Visa is forming the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, that includes experts and partners to troubleshoot problems and provide insights for to help small business succeed and close 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.

The 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.

Visa Inc., based in San Francisco, said it was capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second.