Visa has today announced an initiative to digitally enable eight million small businesses in Europe and support the communities they serve following Covid-19.

Through the initiative, Visa has committed to helping 50m more small businesses in the recovery process. This comes after research from Visa found that 29% of small business owners have seen a decrease in online sales, with 15% citing a significant decrease, since the pandemic began.

Charlotte Hogg, CEO for Visa Europe, said:  “Where you shop matters now more than ever. Small businesses are the backbone of local economies – they create jobs, foster innovation and keep income within local communities. Their survival will be key to how our economies recover from this current crisis.

“To ensure they get the support needed, we’re enlisting the help of our partners – big and small – to provide the tools, resources and expertise that will help small businesses adapt and build for the future.”

Visa aims to help small business adapt, build digital capabilities and meet consumer demand for cashless payments – both online and in-stores.

Signs of progress

Visa’s commitment to small businesses is also supported by a number of large companies. These include, Barclays, BBVA, CaixaBank, Delivero, eBay, Fiserv, Lloyds Bank, plus many more.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Small businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the current crisis, but the good news is that there are early signs of progress – at Barclaycard we’ve already seen a 44% increase in the number of SME clients actively taking payments since the start of lockdown.

“While we don’t expect an overnight recovery, the resilience and perseverance of small businesses gives us optimism as we look towards the next 12 to 24 months. Working in partnership with Visa, we will continue to support UK SMEs by investing in the development of faster and smoother payment systems, to help them grow and adapt in the current economic climate.”

The initiative provides support in three strategic areas:

  • Enabling SMEs to build an online presence
  • Empowering small firms to take advantage of digital payments
  • Encourage consumers to support local businesses

Earlier this year, Visa committed to provide $210m in Covid-19 relief funding to address the longer-term needs of the small and micro business community over the next five years.