Small Businesses Set Sights on Cross-Border Growth, Says Visa’s Latest Study
Mokshita P.
10x Industry

Small Businesses Set Sights on Cross-Border Growth, Says Visa’s Latest Study

UAE businesses eye global expansion, and sustainability matters, influencing purchase decisions for 92 percent of UAE shoppers. Small businesses aim to improve through new products, marketing, and digital presence.

Visa has released the results of its seventh annual Global Back to Business Study, shedding light on the evolving trends and strategies of small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide. The study found that a majority of SMBs are gearing up to prioritise cross-border sales as they seek to expand their reach to new markets. Additionally, it uncovered a significant surge in consumer adoption of digital payments, with nearly 75 percent of shoppers surveyed indicating their intent to use digital payment methods more frequently this year.

Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Visa's Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for GCC, noted, "It used to be that only big businesses could scale to access customers across the country or around the world, but today’s small business owner can be virtually borderless. At Visa, we're seeing the small business mindset shift from survival mode to growth mode, as SMBs harness the power of digital payments to improve efficiencies, reach new audiences, and simply thrive in today's increasingly digital world."

The Global Back to Business Study surveyed small business owners and consumers in ten markets, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States (US).

Key insights from the study include:

1. Expanding Horizons: A remarkable 93 percent of surveyed business owners in the UAE cited expanding into new geographies as a focus for growth, surpassing the global average of 79 percent. Furthermore, a substantial 83 percent of consumers expressed comfort in purchasing from businesses across borders, compared to the global average of 72 percent.

2. Going Cashless: While 100 percent of small business owners surveyed indicated plans to go cashless "someday" (compared to 95 percent globally), 42 percent of them in the UAE (versus 51 percent globally) plan to make this shift within the next two years. Consumers are leading the charge, with 51 percent of those surveyed in the UAE (versus 55 percent globally) predicting increased use of digital payments in the coming year.

3. Supporting Local Businesses: In a show of solidarity with local economies, 70 percent of consumers in the UAE (compared to 49 percent globally) intend to shop more at local businesses this year.

4. Prioritising Sustainability: Sustainability is a significant factor in purchase decisions, with an impressive 92 percent of UAE shoppers stating that a business's sustainability practices impact their purchasing choices, compared to the global average of 68 percent. Additionally, 96 percent of UAE consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products or services, in contrast to 77 percent globally.

5. Growth Strategies: SMB owners cited offering new products or services (44 percent), increased investment in marketing (42 percent), and enhanced social media presence (41 percent) as the top opportunities for reaching new customers. Accepting new forms of payment was also seen as crucial by 37 percent of business owners.

Visa is committed to empowering the growth of small businesses worldwide through various localised programs and solutions. These include Visa Business credit and debit cards, business and payment management tools, fraud and security services, financial education, and business skills training initiatives like Practical Business Skills and She's Next. Additionally, the Visa Foundation announced a five-year, US$200 million commitment to support small and micro businesses, with a focus on women entrepreneurs, providing catalytic capital, capacity building, and support services.