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Digital adoption on the rise among MY small businesses: survey

Digital adoption

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As a result of the disruption caused by the global pandemic, more small businesses in Malaysia have utilized digital technologies in their operations and services, new survey from professional accounting organization CPA Australia shows.

According to the survey, 40% of businesses have begun increasing their focus on online sales in the past 12 months, as well as social media amplification, with over 60% using it to promote their business and 55% using it to communicate with customers.

While most Malaysian small businesses offer customers new digital and mobile payment options, 61.5% still receive 50% or more of their sales in cash, above the APAC survey average of 46.4%.

“The strong connection between technology usage and business growth and the quick returns many Malaysian businesses experience when investing in technology is no doubt helping to drive this uptake. Forty-two per cent reported positive returns from their technology investment last year,” said Jimmy Lai, president of CPA Australia, Malaysia Division.

Despite efforts among the small businesses scene in the country, most find difficulty in financing conditions. Nearly 50% expecting they will face problems accessing finance. These difficulties, plus an uncertain outlook are also expected to impact the solvency of many businesses, with 32% anticipating it will be difficult to repay debts in 2021.

“Small businesses may be offering limited digital and mobile payment options due to a lack of understanding about what’s available or scepticism towards these solutions. This echoes findings from CPA Australia’s 2020 Report on Business FinTech Usage Survey, that showed 31% of businesses with fewer than 50 employees identified a lack of fintech understanding among the board or senior management as a challenge to fintech adoption,” Lai said.

He also added that more can be done to assure business that digital and mobile payment options can provide better customer reach, which should contribute to recovery this year.

COVID-19 is likely to continue creating challenges for Malaysia’s small businesses. Developments such as the spike in infections at the start of the year are balanced by the vaccine roll-out and easing of restrictions. This suggests a more positive picture for 2021, which is supported by the survey results. About 70% of respondents expect their revenue to grow this year, up from 56% last year. Exporting will make an important contribution to growth, with 45% expecting revenue from overseas to grow this year.

“With many small businesses having a strong focus on innovation, e-commerce, good staff and improving business strategy, we are likely to see them recover quickly from COVID-19, especially in the second half of the year. Such a focus also sets them up for long-term growth,” Lai stated.

He added, “However, uncertainty in the economic outlook will remain an impediment to small business recovery. The government should therefore continue to play its enhanced role in supporting this fundamental sector of Malaysia’s economy in the near term.”

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