Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka’s online payment gateway solution provider, WEBXPAY, has partnered with global payments company Visa to expand the scope of the country’s digital economy by enabling seamless, effortless, and sustainable digital payment acceptance solutions for SMBs across Sri Lanka. 

The partnership provides WEBXPAY with a boost to faster achieve its goal of empowering SMBs island-wide with face-to-face digital payment acceptance capability, offering them access to Visa cardholders across the globe. This in turn will increase scalability for the small business sector and consequently aid its recovery.

As a new member of the Visa Acceptance Fast Track Programme for APAC, WEBXPAY hopes to widen its net of financial inclusion by enabling digital payment acceptance to 10,000 new-to-digital Sri Lankan SMBs by 2025, aiming for a Gross Merchant Volume (GMV) of Rs 10 billion by 2025 to elevate the country’s digital economy. This will help increase contactless payment acceptance through soft POS, enable tap-to-phone payments with soft POS technology and bring about low-cost face-to-face transaction acceptance. In a post-pandemic economy, this will also help merchants rebuild and increase sales to more consumers and improve customer loyalty; all while offering their shoppers a friction-free digital payment experience at checkout.

Avanthi Colombage, Visa’s country manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, shared that small businesses have always been keen to adopt technology to further their business and most times, only need enablers to accelerate this. 

“Through the Visa Acceptance Fast Track Programme, we are excited to partner with WEBXPAY and play a role in helping thousands of small businesses across Sri Lanka go digital. With Visa’s solutions and best practices and WEBXPAY’s superior payment gateway solutions, small businesses can now accept contactless payments and enable tap-to-phone for merchants quicker and in a secure manner, in their path to recovery,” said Colombage.

Meanwhile, Omar Sahib, WEBXPAY’s founder, commented that they appreciate the support extended by Visa to help expand the fintech’s products and social goals in reaching out to the SMBs in Sri Lanka.

“Through this partnership, we are further extending our ability to offer fast, convenient, and frictionless payments processing in the hope that we contribute towards the greater expansion of the local digital payments ecosystem, and in turn play a transformative role in the growth of the digital economy of Sri Lanka,” said Sahib.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – With Malaysia aiming to attain a ‘high technology nation’ status by 2030, small business culture in the country, with one in four of Malaysian SMBs planning to introduce a new product or service this year locally or globally, according to a survey from CPA Australia.

According to CPA Australia’s Malaysian Digital Transformation Committee Chairman Bryan Chung, the findings on Malaysia’s innovative culture are encouraging when compared to small businesses from Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan.

“The findings are indicative of a new generation of entrepreneurs who are tech-savvy, innovative and eager to promote what their business has to offer, both to the region and the world. Malaysian respondents are typically younger with 55.9% under 40, compared with the survey average of 45.2%,” he said.

Chung also added that business owners’ mindsets have shifted, which augurs well. Business owners are now motivated to pursue technological innovations for long-term growth as opposed to short-term survival.

“The focus on technology is reflected in cybersecurity preparedness, with 40.1% of local small businesses reviewing their cybersecurity measures in the past six months, while 38.5% expected their business will be cyberattacked in 2022,” he added.

Reflecting the tech-savvy nature of many Malaysian small businesses, eight in ten earned revenue from online sales and 62.5% received more than 10% of their sales through digital payment options such as Grabpay, Alipay and iPay88. Given the impact of COVID-19, it is not surprising that of those that sought external finance in 2021, close to 55% sought it for business survival and nearly half found that accessing finance was challenging.

Chung further explained that the reasonable rate of technology investment is heartening against a highly challenging business environment where survival and sustainability is paramount. Of the businesses surveyed, close to 40% invested in technology and said their investment improved their profitability. While for some it may have been a knee-jerk response, the positive business outcomes will to a large extent, validate continuous investments.

“This demonstrates that Malaysia’s small businesses are generally pretty good at adopting technology into their business, however there is room to improve. We suggest that more small businesses seek information and advice to ensure they adopt the right technology solutions for their business,” he concluded.

Hanoi, Vietnam – Small businesses in Vietnam are most likely to invest in technology in contrast to their SMB counterparts in APAC during 2021, new data from CPA Australia shows.

This focus in investing in technology was evident by the fact that seven in ten of the Vietnamese SMB respondents expect to grow this year, the third highest result in the Asia-Pacific. Strong investment in technology and government support are likely to be key drivers of this turnaround.

In addition, Vietnam’s small businesses are the most likely to increase their emphasis on online sales and up their investment in technology in reaction to COVID-19. This change saw the percentage that earned more than 10% of their revenue online jump from 60% in 2020 to 73% in 2021.

Of the markets surveyed, Vietnam was most adversely impacted by the pandemic, with 78% of small businesses nominating it as their biggest barrier to growth last year. In response, many local small businesses invested in improving their business, with 44% increasing their investment in technology and 42% shifting to online sales. Both results were the highest of the markets surveyed.

Can Van Luc, chair of North Vietnam Advisory Committee at CPA Australia said, “While 2021 was a difficult year, 45% of Vietnamese small businesses still managed to grow. Under the government’s dual goals of ‘preventing the pandemic and promoting socio-economic recovery’, inflow of foreign direct investment has grown steadily over the past year–up by 9.2% in 2021. Recovering domestic and overseas demand, together with government policy support, have bolstered small businesses operations and accelerated their digital transformation.”

The data also noted that 60% of Vietnam’s small businesses stated they reviewed their cybersecurity protections in the past six months, nearly double the 32% recorded in 2020. Further, 42% sought professional advice from IT consultants or specialists in the past 12 months.

“Threats of cyberattacks are on the rise as small businesses digitalise. [Around] 64% of respondents are concerned that their business could be cyberattacked in 2022. Given that our country has increased the pace of the development of its digital economy, small businesses should keep investing in capabilities to safeguard themselves against increasing malicious cyberattacks. Measures such as enhancing cybersecurity and consulting IT consultants are crucial to protecting vital assets and customer data,” Luc added.

Sydney, Australia – QuickBooks, an accounting software package, has launched its new campaign together with TBWA\Sydney, which aims to acknowledge that no one begins a small business to undertake administrative work. The new campaign aims to show that SMBs can go back to what they love with the help of tech such as QuickBooks software.

Using Intuit QuickBooks, the ad demonstrates how small businesses can be successful, using capabilities like invoicing, expenditure management, and payroll. The campaign trailers use original tracks created for QuickBooks that will evolve over time with the campaign.

Together, the advertisements reaffirm QuickBooks‘ purpose of supporting accountants, bookkeepers, and business owners to achieve success their way.

Jane Merrick, Australia’s marketing director at Intuit QuickBooks, said that they are thrilled to have worked with the TBWA/Sydney team to launch this new campaign celebrating small business owners.

“Once again, we believe we have delivered a campaign  that not only promotes QuickBooks in a differentiated way, but also truly gets the challenge  that so many small business owners face of being able to “tap into” the admin and financial  part of their business so many want to avoid or push to the side,” Merrick said 

Merrick added, “We hear from so many of our customers that before using QuickBooks they struggled with feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with business admin and finances. For them even the smallest wins are critical, whether it’s expanding service lines or hiring an employee – it’s something to be supported and celebrated. Our new creative aims to show that with the  help of the right tool – QuickBooks, you can master these tasks easily and get back to  focusing on doing what you love.” 

Stu Tobin, creative director at TBWA\Sydney, commented, “It’s not every day a brand lets you compose a G-Funk inspired track to deliver their cloud accounting software proof points. Big thanks to our good friends at QuickBooks, Otis, Division, Pool and of course the real  small businesses we featured.” 

The latest integrated campaign will be running across TV, BVOD, YouTube, OOH, social, digital and PR.

Singapore Meta has launched a new campaign in APAC that aims to showcase the ingenuity of small businesses across the region. The campaign, ‘Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found’, was done together with Sydney-based independent creative agency Now We Collide.  

The campaign consists of a series of 15-second advertisements and highlights the stories of nine different SMBs from countries in the region including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea as well as the Philippines, and Thailand.

Each of the creative executions centres on revealing the ‘invisible’ product of a small business. One shows a boy wearing a bike helmet and pads apparently floating along before an Instagram ad unit reveals the bike he is riding. Another features a woman who looks like she is practising Jiu-Jitsu only by herself,  before revealing that she is, in fact, sparring with her instructor.

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the tools and resources available to help small businesses connect with new audiences and expand their businesses online. It’s based on the premise that there are millions of fantastic ideas ‘floating around’, and that it can be challenging to make it stand out from the rest. 

Alex Sloane, director of marketing, Meta Australia & New Zealand, said that the last two years have been uniquely testing times for SMBs, providing some serious challenges with store closures and new opportunities with the explosion in digital retail.

“With this campaign, we wanted to draw attention to the wealth of resources available to help them use digital tools to even better effect, with the potential to create truly global businesses. We genuinely believe that ‘Good ideas deserve to be found.’ and can come from anywhere,” Sloane added.

Ryan Bodger, chief creative officer for Now We Collide, shared, how excited they are to be involved in a campaign that would help out many SMBs across APAC, especially as it was filmed during one of the more challenging periods of the pandemic.

Bodger emphasised, “We had to grapple with these challenges as well, and our team was able to bring to life these stories from all across Asia either filming remotely or in-studio and on location in Sydney.”

“By bringing the client into the studio ‘virtually’, we were able to closely collaborate throughout the production process, making approvals frictionless. We streamlined the process through live video offline edit sessions, bringing together various stakeholders from different locations across the globe,” Bodger adds.

Meanwhile, Keir Maher, chief executive officer of Now We Collide, commented, that one of the more positive things the pandemic has given them is the ability to work in ways we never thought possible. 

Maher added, “Quick adaptation to change has always been part of the Now We Collide DNA, but now it is built into our production processes and methodologies. This campaign is testament to our abilities as a nimble and effective team.”

The campaign will be distributed via digital channels and Meta-owned platforms through Dentsu Media.

Singapore – The onset of the global pandemic has pushed former brick-and-mortar businesses to the digital realm, and with this,small and medium businesses (SMBs) saw the need to implement their own cybersecurity measures, as well as setting their own digitalization roadmap, 

According to new insights from global technology company Cisco, about 94% of SMBs in the APAC region have implemented at least some sort of cybersecurity measure, while 90% revealed that they have also implemented a digitalization roadmap for their business to follow.

In terms of the implementation of the said roadmaps, 65% of APAC SMBs have implemented them, while 50% have deployed them.

Part of the growing trend of APAC SMBs realizing these digital strategies are fears over cybersecurity flaws in their business systems, with 56% of business respondents admitting that they have fallen victim to one of the many cybersecurity threats such as email phishing and malware attack, which clocked at 85% of the threats most of these businesses experienced.

With these fears in hand, about 62% of respondents have said that a cyber incident had disrupted their operations and 61% noting that it resulted in a loss of revenue. In addition, 57% saw a loss of trust with customers, while 66% said that a cyber incident affected the company’s reputation negatively.

“It is not a surprise that three quarters of SMBs said they are more concerned about cybersecurity today than they were 12 months ago. This is significant. But it is also encouraging because it demonstrates increased levels of awareness of cyber risk among SMBs,” Cisco said in their report.

As the large number of APAC SMB respondents have noted the consequences of cyber attacks, more and more of these institutions are now setting aside investment and budget for their cybersecurity and digitalization measures, with 63% of SMBs in the APAC region spend at least 4% of annual revenue on cybersecurity on average, with 30% of businesses spending at least 6% of their annual revenue, and 9% spending over 10%.

In terms of challenges, SMBs said keeping pace with continually evolving technologies and security requirements (77%); keeping pace with constantly evolving cyber threats (76%); challenges with engaging employees around responsibilities (75%); too much complexity in the industry (75%); and the ability to recruit (73%) are the top barriers they face to increasing cybersecurity resilience.

“The growing maturity in SMBs’ understanding of cybersecurity is perhaps best highlighted by the fact that they are looking at preparedness holistically. However, even with investments in solutions, talent, and training, SMBs do find themselves at the wrong end of a cyber attack. It’s just the nature of the industry,” Cisco explained.

The report added, “With a growing understanding of the potential impacts of a cyber incident on business, and increased legal implications, SMBs are turning towards cybersecurity insurance as a key investment area. This provides them with a cover to cushion the financial impact any such incident might have on their business.”