Nearly eight in ten merchants (79%) of small businesses in Pakistan that were surveyed believe digital payments is an important investment in their business recovery, according to a new study by Visa (NYSE: V), the world leader in digital payments. Two in three small businesses (63%) surveyed say they feel optimistic about business recovery in 2021.
The ‘2021 Small Business Recovery’ study surveyed small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Pakistan, UAE, KSA and Egypt to understand how they have evolved the way they do business to manage the impact of the coronavirus on their bottom line. The study also revealed the key spending trends that merchants believe define the COVID-19 business environment – these include increased use of contactless payments (58% of merchants), takeaways (81%) and home delivery (40%). Merchants in Pakistan expect all of these spending trends to continue to grow post-pandemic, and 74% of merchants are confident that online shopping will remain a preference well after the crisis.
When asked about payment habits during the pandemic, more than half of merchants surveyed in Pakistan (55%) said card payments (chip and PIN) were the preferred payment option among their customers.More than one-third of merchants surveyed said they established digital presence (36%) and implemented home delivery and pickup services (43%). Nearly half introduced new product services/offerings (47%) to attract and retain more customers while59% witnessed an increased use of loyalty programs.
Another interesting finding that stood out in Pakistan was that 7 in 10 (71%) merchants surveyed showed commitment to their communities by giving back in the form of donations or providing free products and services to those in need during the pandemic.
Commenting on the findings of the ‘2021 Small Business Recovery’ study, Kamil Khan, Visa’s Country Manager for Pakistan, said, “It’s encouraging to see that merchants are optimistic about business recovery in 2021 and the swift adoption of digital payments and recognition of what their customers want- whether it’s establishing a digital presence, introducing eCommerce platform, offering new products or home delivery – has been pivotal in them shifting gears from survival mode to recovery. Considering that 7 out of 10 small business owners rely on their business as their primary source of income, it is imperative for these businesses to move to digital payments and strengthen digital offerings sooner rather than later. At Visa, we continue to work in lockstep with our bank and industry partners to support local merchants’ urgent recovery needs.”
The experience of the pandemic has highlighted the need to future proof. In order to prepare for future uncertainties, 31%of Pakistani merchants surveyed who currently do not have an online presence said they are planning to build an eCommerce platform and more than 50% are planning to offer contactless payments and digital prepayment options to customers. One-third of merchants surveyed (34%) said they believe accepting digital payments is likely to increase their sales. In fact, merchants who only accept cash are planningto invest in new digital payment technologies (33%) and set up POS terminals within the next two years (26%).
Whilst the majority of merchants in Pakistan recognize the importance of digital acceptance, the complexity of use or staff training (35%), and delay in refund if requested by consumers (22%) remain a concern for surveyed merchants.
Essam El Daly, Visa’s Senior Director of Merchant Sales and Acquisition – MENA, said: “At Visa, our top priority is to help small businesses keep pace and adapt to operate in a world that is rapidly evolving. These findings give us insight into what the barriers are for merchants as they transition to digital and reinforce our strategy to provide practical help for SMBs to access a trusted pool of educational tools and technologies such as low-cost acceptance solutions. As a trusted engine of commerce, Visa intends to continue to roll out new programs and resources that address the pain points of SMBs and help them embrace digitization and thrive in the new normal.”
‘2021 Small Business Recovery’ study was done to understand where small businesses are in their recovery. For this, Visa commissioned 4SiGHT Research & Analytics to survey small businesses in the UAE, KSA, Egypt and Pakistan. The methodology consisted of 15 minute interviews with over 150 merchants in each market and within key segments ranging from food to fashion to travel. The surveys were conducted December 8-20, 2020.