SMEs and Ventures

Why 2024 is the year for SMEs and their mega growth – By Jeni Mundy

Small and medium businesses are the backbone of the global economy, and this is no secret. They account for 90% of businesses worldwide and provide 50% of employment opportunities. In addition to this, there is a new wave of digital-first micro businesses emerging, particularly in the creator economy, which is contributing to the momentum.

The mindset of small businesses has shifted towards growth as digital payments revolutionize their opportunities. This transformation allows them to reach new audiences, improve efficiencies, and thrive in our highly digital world. In 2024, small and micro businesses will experience unprecedented benefits from global commerce, thanks to increased digitization that accelerates and secures payments, ultimately helping them run their businesses smoothly. This year will truly be their time to shine, and at Visa, we are committed to supporting them every step of the way.

As we enter the new year, here are five reasons why 2024 will be a monumental year for small businesses:

  1. The rise of micro businesses: More and more individuals in fields such as art, music, and food are turning their creative content into significant sources of income. By 2025, social commerce is projected to reach $1.2 trillion, with creators playing a significant role. Whether you are a creator or a property owner leasing spaces on vacation rental platforms, innovative payment solutions will set you up for success by providing real-time earnings and convenient ways to pay your vendors.
  2. Global opportunities: Access to global audiences is transforming the possibilities for small and medium-sized businesses. Around 79% of SMBs have identified selling across borders as a key focus for their growth. Retailers, in particular, see the world as their marketplace, with 90% recognizing cross-border sales as an opportunity. Consumers are also ready for this global expansion, with 72% expressing comfort in buying from businesses in other countries.
  3. Digital transformation: The increasing digitization of business operations is opening up new avenues for small businesses. From online marketplaces to digital marketing strategies, these businesses can leverage technology to expand their reach and attract customers. Embracing digital tools and platforms will be crucial for success in 2024.
  4. Enhanced customer experiences: With the help of digital payments and technology, small businesses can provide seamless and convenient experiences to their customers. From contactless payments to personalized recommendations, these businesses can create a customer-centric approach that fosters loyalty and drives growth.
  5. Supportive ecosystem: The small business community is stronger than ever, with various organizations and platforms dedicated to supporting their growth. From financial institutions

The travel rebound presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses. In fact, medium, small, and micro businesses play a crucial role in the travel industry, accounting for 80% of all businesses in the sector. As the travel industry bounces back, these businesses stand to benefit directly. By 2024, business travel is expected to surpass pre-pandemic spending levels, which means that SMBs in fashion, craft, and food-service industries are well-positioned to capitalize on this growth. Additionally, small tour operators, solo tour guides, and home share operators contribute significantly to travelers’ local experiences. To further boost confidence among new customers and those already comfortable with international purchases, payment card protection against potential fraud is essential.

Security is of utmost importance in today’s digital landscape. Any security lapses can have long-lasting consequences, especially for small businesses. As digital money movement continues to evolve, cyber threats and risks like friendly fraud pose significant challenges. Surprisingly, two-thirds (67%) of SMBs lack complete confidence in their ability to recover from a fraud incident or cyber-attack. Visa recognizes the importance of security and invests heavily in advanced fraud fighting technologies. Measures such as tokenization, biometrics, EMV chips, and predictive analytics are employed to keep businesses safe. Moreover, Visa has introduced a new program to protect merchants from friendly fraud, providing them with additional ways to prove the validity and authorization of disputed charges. This initiative has the potential to save small businesses over $1 billion in the next five years.

Gone are the days when big tools were exclusively reserved for big businesses. Automation and AI services, like ChatGPT, are now on the radar of most small businesses. In fact, a staggering 91% of small businesses expressed their likelihood of considering available AI tools and services to gain a competitive edge in the coming year. At Visa, AI is an integral part of our operations. With investments of $3 billion in AI and data infrastructure over the past decade, we are able to proactively identify and prevent fraud, ensuring the safer and smarter movement of money.

In the exciting era of ChatGPT and generative AI, one of the most thrilling applications will revolve around innovating for our clients and the wider payments ecosystem.

Payments have evolved beyond just completing a sale – they have become a vital aspect of every business. Whether it’s through the global Visa Ready Creator Commerce Program, which assists creator-centric platforms in integrating financial tools powered by Visa Direct technology for faster payments and new revenue streams, or by empowering payment facilitators to offer small and medium-sized businesses simplified payment solutions through the Acceptance Fast Track Program, Visa is empowering SMBs across various industries and locations. What better way to prepare for a successful 2024, even for the smallest businesses? SOURCE: Produced by AP Content Services, By Jeni Mundy

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