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The Visa Back to Business Study

Global Small Business and Consumer Insights

Small and micro businesses (SMBs) were faced with unprecedented challenges when the pandemic struck nearly every corner of the world. Intermittent shutdowns and digital shifts in consumer behavior forced SMB owners to rethink how they do business. Many accelerated their transition to e-commerce or adopted digital and contactless payments in order to meet the needs of their customers. Those pivots proved to be smart for business, as the preference for contactless and digital shopping experiences are changing how we shop for good.

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While many SMBs continue to face unique obstacles, from local health and safety restrictions to financial instability, the rapid pace of change in global commerce has forever altered how SMBs operate, rebuild, and get back to business. In fact, a majority of global consumers (68%) surveyed – across nine markets – say COVID-19 has permanently changed how they will pay for things now and in the future, with a preference on safer and more touchless ways to pay. And in the next three months, 60 percent of consumers expect they will use contactless payments whenever possible. To prepare for these new shopping habits, two in five (40%) SMBs say accepting contactless payments is a critical investment area to meet a new wave of expectations.

Underscoring this permanent trend, nearly three in four (74%) SMBs surveyed – also across nine markets – expect customers will prefer contactless payments as much or more than they do now – creating added pressure for SMB owners to adapt to a new way to accept payment in the post-pandemic age. But the shape-shifting trends go beyond payments and include other timely transitions like exploring new sales channels, adding new products, and focusing on fraud prevention. As the world emerges from the pandemic and its myriad challenges, every small business continues to have different needs, on a staggered timeline. The fifth edition of the Visa Back to Business Study can help small business owners better understand how the significant changes to consumer shopping habits and digital trends could have a lasting impact on their business for years to come.