As small businesses pursue international expansion, their evolution might involve adopting new payment tools, a recent survey from card network company Visa revealed. 

Small and micro-businesses envision a cashless future, and they’re investing in payment technology as part of their growth strategies, Visa’s survey results showed. In the card network’s global survey of 2,250 small and micro-businesses and 1,500 consumers, more than a third (35%) of business owners surveyed said they are considering accepting new forms of payment as a critical way they can improve their businesses.

About 95% of small business owners planned to become cashless “someday,” and more than half (51%) anticipate going cashless in the next two years.

“Our previous data has shown that small businesses that embraced digital payment technologies over the last few years were more resilient and better able to compete than those who did not,” Jeni Mundy, global head of merchant sales and acquiring at Visa, said in an emailed statement.

To be sure, Visa has an interest in businesses being more digital in their payments schemes because credit and debit cards are often used in those channels. In any case, the COVID-19 pandemic super-charged a worldwide trend toward increased digital payments.

Nearly eight in 10 business owners said they are expanding to new markets to drive growth, Visa said. Among other measures small business owners expect to fuel growth are: bolstering their social media presence (44%), offering new products or services (41%) and increasing marketing investments (40%). 

“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,” Mundy said in the release. “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 shift toward accepting new payment technology is partly driven by changing consumer behavior, Visa’s survey suggests. More than half (55%) of consumers surveyed said they expect to use digital payments more in the coming year.

Among the factors driving consumers to adopt cashless technology are the convenience and speed they offer as well as the ability to track expenses, Mundy said in the statement. While small and micro-businesses want to integrate new payment forms into their operations, they may face hurdles such as cost, lack of training and security concerns, Mundy added. 

Although nearly half (49%) of consumers told Visa they planned to shop more locally, 72% of shoppers are comfortable shopping with international merchants, the card network reported.

Visa’s latest survey builds upon previous research indicating that small businesses are counting on digital payment acceptance to further growth. The card giant released a survey last year showing that 82% of small and micro-businesses planned to accept digital payment options that year.

Other research has illustrated the decline of cash and the ancillary impact of dwindling cash use. 

A Gallup survey released last year found that 13% of respondents use cash for all or most of their purchases, down from 28% five years earlier. Plus, June data from Euromonitor International indicated ATMs declined to 451,500 last year from 470,000 in 2019.

Though business owners want to transition to cashless, legislators are weighing whether to prevent them from doing so. In June, Congress members introduced bills in the House and Senate to prohibit businesses from refusing to accept cash for in-person transactions.

The legislation is meant to prevent discrimination against unbanked and underbanked Americans who rely on cash to pay for their essentials, according to bill authors Representatives Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) and John Rose (R-Tenn.) and Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). 

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