Unlocking the potential of Europe’s small and medium businesses
Small, independent businesses make up the heart of the European economy, accounting for more than half of Europe's GDP and employing around 100 million people. Despite facing unprecedented times and challenging economic conditions, small businesses are still thriving and 2022 saw a continued return to growth with 27.9m businesses registered across Europe – a 2% increase on last year.
Visa is committed to understanding the challenges and opportunities that are faced by small businesses and has conducted annual research1 to understand the current state of play and explore the factors that will continue to influence their growth.
Here are the top three trends from the research:
1: Digital payments drive SMB business growth
The survey has shown that by accepting digital payments, by card or mobile phone, businesses can positively impact their balance sheet. As two-thirds (67%) of European small businesses now accept debit or credit payments, the survey has highlighted the benefits of digitisation: more than half of the businesses surveyed (55%) agreed that customers spend more when they use cards, while 41% saw an increase in turnover after they started accepting digital payments, ranging between 6% and 15%.
2: Reliable payments are critical for small businesses
Reliable and resilient payments systems are critical for the survival and growth of businesses, ensuring that transactions can be carried out smoothly and both customers and businesses can trust that they can pay and be paid.
The survey has shown 67% of small businesses found card payments to be the simplest form of payment, demonstrating the value of digitisation to power growth. 62% of digital payment users also agreed that taking card payments meant that they get paid faster, while two thirds (66%) agreed that card payments also reduced the risk of not getting paid.
The need for stability and reliability from their payment providers was also reflected in the research with the businesses prioritising access to customer service (74%), same day settlement (73%) and fraud and security tools (72%).
3: The evolution of global transactions
The research highlighted the upward trend of international commerce, and the benefits of digitisation. As the instant transfer of funds across borders in real-time provides huge benefits for merchants and customers alike, opening up new customer bases and potential revenue streams, small businesses reported a 9% increase of international customers as the European markets continued to rebuild from the pandemic.
How Visa is enabling small businesses to unlock future economic growth
Lynsey Verrillo, Head of Enabler Business Development for Europe: "We believe small businesses are key to economic growth, and are committed to helping them thrive. We set a multi-year pledge back in 2020 to help digitalise 50 million small businesses globally, enabling more businesses to accept digital payments and gain greater access to the digital economy."
The introduction of contactless payments has been a gamechanger for many of them, now accounting for 89% of Visa in-store payments, and we're working closely with partners to ensure that businesses of all sizes are plugged in and ready for the next generation of payments.
The dedicated support being provided through our network will be critical to unlocking the potential of businesses across Europe, helping local communities and economies thrive. We’re proud to play our part, providing businesses with easy-to-access resources, expert advice, and best-in-class payment solutions to help supercharge their growth.
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1 In November and December 2022, Visa conducted its annual, in-depth quantitative market research of approximately 6,000 small businesses across 14 markets to understand the current state of play and explore the factors that will continue to influence their growth. The markets covered by the survey were Germany, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Greece.