19 Jan 2021
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Mastercard launches resource site to support digital transformation of SMEs

By Shannon Williams

Mastercard has launched the Digital Acceleration for Small Businesses microsite in a bid to help small and medium enterprises  recover from the pandemic and prepare for the future.

The microsite has been launched across most of Mastercard's Asia Pacific websites with information and resources on how to digitalise and run businesses more efficiently.

As COVID-19 drives a rapid and lasting shift to e-commerce and contactless payments, the one-stop centre features guides on digital transformation, e-learning courses, information about Mastercard products and services for SMEs, cyber security insights and tools to reduce vulnerabilities and access to discounts on business software solutions, e-commerce platforms and digital marketing services.

“SMEs have taken a particularly hard hit from the pandemic, so it’s vital for them to get the knowledge, skills and resources they need to offer an omnichannel shopping and payment experience that drives business and builds customer loyalty in the physical and digital worlds,” says Sandeep Malhotra, executive vice president, products & innovation, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

“With consumer buying habits and expectations evolving so quickly, this initiative is just one of the ways that Mastercard is fostering financial inclusion and helping small businesses to go digital across their operations to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve cashflow management – all while staying safe and protected from cyber risks and fraud," he says.

The Digital Acceleration for Small Businesses centre is available across Mastercard’s English-language websites for Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, India and Southeast Asia. It will be rolled out selectively on non-English sites in the future.

To enhance the resources for SMEs, Mastercard has joined forces with popular website builder Wix and with Zoho, a cloud solutions provider with more than 60 million users. These partners are sponsoring online guides and articles on various topics – from creating an online store and choosing the right domain name to migrating to an online expense management and accounting platform.

“As the world shifts beyond short-term survival, SMEs need to plan for long-term success in a new world of online shopping. At Wix, we’ve seen first-hand how the past year challenged businesses in so many ways but also how it brought out their resilience, grit and adaptability,” says Liat Karpel Gurwicz, head of eCommerce marketing at Wix.com. 

“We will draw on the collective learning of the Wix team who built our eCommerce platform and the merchants who run their businesses on it to help SMEs plan and strategise for 2021.”

Gibu Mathew, vice president and GM, Asia Pacific, Zoho Corp, adds, “Even as organisations are trying to reimagine their business models, dwelling in rich content helps unlock ideas.

"We are excited to participate in this initiative by Mastercard, a company that is committed to empower businesses to innovate and implement superior solutions for business transformation,” he says.

"This initiative will further enhance and deepen digital awareness and know-how, allowing business owners and top management to make informed decisions when selecting solutions that best support evolving business needs.”

The resources site in Asia Pacific is part of Mastercard’s global efforts to help SMEs “Get Paid, Get Capital and Get Digital” through new product development, partnerships and distribution channels. These include initiatives in North America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.

After reaching its goal to bring 500 million people into the financial system, Mastercard strengthened its commitment to inclusion by pledging to help a total of 1 billion people get access to the digital economy by 2025, including 50 million small businesses and 25 million women entrepreneurs.

Beyond supporting businesses, the benefits of going digital are far-reaching. Digitalisation of SMEs could add US$2.6 trillion to US$3.1 trillion to Asia Pacific’s GDP by 2024, a recent study by International Data Corporation showed. Due to the impact of COVID-19, it said, nearly 70% of SMEs in Asia Pacific are accelerating digitisation and 86% believe this will help build resilience against future events.

Reflecting the huge shift to a “digital first” mindset, contactless payments via the Mastercard network were 41% of in-person transactions in the third quarter of 2020 – up from 37% in the second quarter and 30% a year earlier.

With ATM withdrawals at an all-time low, Mastercard research shows more than 70% of consumers globally plan to continue or increase online purchases and that 74% intend to keep using contactless payments after the pandemic subsides. In Asia Pacific, touch-free payments are here to stay, according to 71% of consumers in Australia, 77% in India, 73% in China and 62% in Japan.

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