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New paths open up for PH businesses

/ 05:02 AM May 08, 2020

The COVID-19 contagion has dramatically changed the way people spend, send and use money. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Global payments technology firm Visa has been pushing for the increased use of electronic payment channels in the last 60 years. Nobody imagined it would take a pandemic to speed up the migration process.

The acceleration of digital shopping as governments shut down megacities to curb the COVID-19 contagion has dramatically changed the way people spend, send and use money with a “tsunami-like” ripple effect on many parts of the global economy, Visa observed.

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In Asia-Pacific, Visa reported that e-commerce orders had grown by 23 percent year-on-year between March 22 and April 4, while retailers had seen an 82-percent surge in online orders during the same time period as quarantine measures in many jurisdictions resulted in store closures, limited in-store inventory and shelter-in-place orders.

In the case of the Philippines, the lockdown started in mid-March, beginning in Metro Manila but eventually expanded to the whole of Luzon and other regions. The National Capital Region remains under quarantine until mid-May.

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While businesses of all sizes have been affected, Visa observed that small businesses were particularly in tough situation. And yet 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,” Visa said.

This is seen especially true for Asia-Pacific, where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 90 percent of businesses.

In the Philippines, SMEs account for over 60 percent of employment.

Visa, which connects more than 61 million merchant locations globally, now sees itself 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,” Visa said in a statement.

Visa enumerated six “truths” that it is recognizing in this “new normal”:

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1. Consumers are shifting to digital-first commerce—no matter what they’re buying.

Big 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, Visa said buyers were seeking out robust digital commerce experiences like never before. As millions of new buyers experience digital commerce for things like groceries, meals and household staples, Visa expects such newly formed habits to last.

2. Small businesses around the globe are seeking quick and immediate paths to recovery as many navigate the overnight move to digital commerce.Visa asserted its unique position to help small businesses pivot and thrive as digital businesses—whether that means creating a new online presence or recognizing the changing ways consumer are spending online.

Globally, Visa said its Fintech Fast Track program was helping small businesses that are innovating in the financial space. This is a learning program for fintechs that are keen to understand what it takes to issue a credential with Visa.

3. Sellers, partners, employees and customers need and expect secure, immediate access to funds digitally.

Through Visa Direct, companies can pay employees or gig workers quickly by moving money to their Visa debit cards in real time. Visa added that it is also helping clients make it easier for people when sending and receiving money to others, whether it’s 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, Visa 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.

4. Contactless payment experiences are a necessity—avoiding contact while buying is better for health and safety.Already a world leader in contactless transacting, Visa is working with partners to ensure that its 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, it has sped up contactless efforts around the world, such as by raising spending limits to enable a larger number of PIN-free purchases in 40 countries. In Asia-Pacific, Visa supported governments and partners in their decisions to raise contactless limits in markets including Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

5. Businesses need the right data and insights to drive their decisions.Visa provides access to data and analytics that help clients and partners understand the impact and effectiveness of the critical decisions they are making today. It seeks to help online sellers deal with an influx of activity by assessing purchase risks for them, drawing on data from billions of worldwide transactions.

6. Buyers and sellers are seeking transparency and protections.As the COVID-19 reared its ugly head, many plans changed quickly, events were canceled 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 April 1, 2020. Through Verifi, it also offers services that can help prevent disputes and resolve disputes before they become chargebacks. For clients and sellers not yet using Verifi, Visa vowed to make sure that 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,” the global firm said.

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