How Visa supports the local economy amid coronavirus downturn

August 24, 2020 14:38
Gavin Ho, Head of Merchant Sales & Acquiring, Visa Hong Kong & Macau, emphasized how Visa supports local retailers with its digital payment technology solutions.  Photo: Visa.

Hong Kong's economy is hit by the coronavirus outbreak, and local SMEs have been the first to bear the brunt. As a ray of hope to local businesses, a recent survey found that Hong Kong people are more likely to shop at local retailers, with the intention to help local SMEs over this challenging time.

In a recent interview with EJ Insight, Gavin Ho, Head of Merchant Sales & Acquiring, Visa Hong Kong & Macau, said that Visa is committed to supporting the local economy and local retailers, in ways such as introducing digital payment technology and offering merchant discounts.

"A lot of Hong Kong people choose to shop at local retailers to support SMEs recovering from the epidemic," Ho quoted the results of a YouGov survey commissioned by Visa in July this year, which found 68 percent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed would choose to shop at a local retailer over an international retailer if they are selling similar products at similar prices.

The survey also found 75 percent of respondents agree it is important for retailers to accept digital payments, as more and more consumers are switching to digital payments. And 67 percent of respondents agree it is important for retailers to have an online presence.

“In fact, about seven out of every 10 physical transactions made through Visa in Hong Kong today are made using near-field-communication (NFC)," Ho said. In recent months, Visa has partnered with multiple Hong Kong fintech companies, as it launched two initiatives – Visa Digital Transformation Toolkit, and Visa eCommerce Starter Package, with an aim to help SMEs optimize working capital management, develop new revenue streams, while offering discounts to merchants on advertisement placing through the Visa Business Card.

In addition, Visa has partnered with Hong Kong startup Boutir to offer discounts for businesses using Boutir’s platform to launch their e-commerce business.

To address the issue of SMEs' difficulties in opening bank accounts in Hong Kong, Ho said Visa has partnered with FinTech unicorn Airwallex, to develop the Airwallex Borderless Card, a virtual card that allows users to make cross-border B2B payments.

Visa has also worked with Neat, a Hong Kong-based FinTech startup offering financial solutions to SMEs and startups, to allow merchants to open digital multi-currency accounts online.

The launch of debit cards for SMEs in Hong Kong is part of Visa's direction to reach out to the under-banked businesses and individuals in Hong Kong," said Ho, adding that the challenge in applying for a credit card is a pain point that has long been there for SMEs.

Visa has partnered with Hong Kong-based virtual bank ZA Bank, to launch a payment solution this year, Ho said, with more new projects with other virtual banks in the pipeline.

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Hong Kong Economic Journal