As the world faces unprecedented economic challenges, we know that our communities and small and micro businesses are being hit especially hard as COVID-19 unfolds.
The extraordinary economic challenges brought on by COVID-19 are also taking a toll on small and micro businesses, the backbone of the global economy which account for more than 90 percent of worldwide businesses, contribute to more than half of global employment and represent 60 percent of GDP in low-income countries.
These businesses and our communities need immediate relief to ease the unexpected challenges they’re facing. Yet, they’ll also need support to rebuild and become more resilient in the future. We recognize the importance of both needs, and we are using the power of our business and the Visa Foundation to address these needs.
The Visa Foundation recently announced two programs totaling $210 million in much needed support. The first $10 million program will provide immediate emergency relief to charitable organizations on the frontlines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as public health and food relief, in the five regions in which we operate: North America; Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe; Asia Pacific; and Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The second $200 million program will support the recovery and rebuilding of small and micro businesses through grant making and impact investing over the next five years. The Visa Foundation funds will provide capital to non-government organizations (NGOs) and investment partners supporting small and micro businesses inclusive of women’s economic advancement, both of which will be critical to long-term economic growth.
In addition to the Visa Foundation efforts, we’re prioritizing a number of short-term solutions for small businesses during these difficult times, keeping in mind that as a payment technology company, Visa does not set or earn revenue from credit card interest rates or late fees. Among the support we are offering:
- We are making it easier for small businesses to get online by waiving monthly fees through June 1 for new clients who utilize Authorize.net, our e-commerce gateway, to establish their online business.
- We are working with governments to raise contactless limits globally to help meet the growing demand for safe, secure digital payments. Contactless, or tap to pay, remains among the safest and most secure way to pay in person at a physical checkout.
- We are helping consumers find and support open local businesses through our Back to Business database, currently highlighting merchants in five U.S. states hit hard by COVID-19: New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington and Florida. We plan to expand Back to Business to the entire United States, as well as to additional global markets, in the coming weeks and embed the service into mapping and local social media platforms.