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2024 Will Be The Year Of The Micro Business — Here’s Why

Small and micro businesses will benefit from global commerce like never before.

It’s no secret that small businesses are a vital lifeline of the global economy. Worldwide, they make up 90% of businesses and 50% of employment. And there’s a new generation of digital-first micro businesses adding to the momentum, including millions of creative individuals in the fast-growing creator economy.

The small business mindset has shifted firmly into growth mode as digital payments transform opportunities for this segment to reach new audiences, improve efficiencies and thrive in our highly digital world. In 2024, small and micro businesses will benefit from global commerce like never before thanks to increased digitization that speeds and protects payments and helps these businesses run smoothly — making it truly their year to shine. At Visa, our priority is to help them at every part of their journey.

As we head into the new year, here are five reasons why 2024 is going to be a huge year for these small businesses:

Micro businesses are on the rise.

Creators from the world of art, music, food and more are turning their content into significant full or part-time sources of income. By 2025, social commerce is expected to reach $1.2 trillion, including work driven by creators. Whether you are a creator or a property owner running a micro business leasing spaces on vacation rental marketplaces, payments innovation helps set you up for success — with earnings in real-time and easy ways to pay your vendors.

They’ve got their eyes set on the world.

Access to global audiences is transforming opportunities for SMBs. Nearly 4 in 5 SMBs (79%) cited selling across borders as a focus for their growth. Small business owners in retail are most likely to see the world as their marketplace — 90% cite cross-border sales as an opportunity. And consumers are ready for it. Some 72% of consumers said they are comfortable buying from businesses in other countries.

The travel rebound is a huge opportunity.

Medium, small and micro businesses are vital to the travel industry, making up 80% of businesses in the sector, and they directly benefit from the travel rebound. With business travel expected to surpass pre-pandemic spending levels in 2024, SMBs in fashion, craft and food-service should be well-positioned to capitalize. Small tour operators, solo tour guides and home share operators also form a crucial component of travelers' local experiences. Payment card protection from potential fraud can increase confidence even further for new customers and all those consumers already comfortable buying internationally.

Security has bubbled to the top.

Security lapses can have lasting consequences. As digital money movement continues to innovate and expand, cyber threats and risks like friendly fraud take a toll on small businesses. Two-thirds (67%) of SMBs are not completely confident in their business’s ability to fully recover from a fraud incident or cyber-attack. Visa invests heavily in advanced fraud fighting technologies to help keep them safe — such as tokenization, biometrics, EMV chips and predictive analytics. And a new program from Visa to help protect merchants from friendly fraud gives merchants more ways to show a disputed charge is valid and authorized, potentially saving small businesses more than $1 billion in the next five years.

Big tools are no longer just for big businesses.

Automation and AI services like ChatGPT are on the minds of most small businesses. Over the next year, an overwhelming 91% said they are at least somewhat likely to consider available AI tools and services to help elevate their business against competitors. At Visa, AI is integral to everything we do. Investments of $3 billion on AI and data infrastructure over the last decade help us to proactively identify and prevent fraud and enable the safer, smarter movement of money. In the new era of ChatGPT and generative AI, among the most exciting applications will be around innovating for our clients and the broader payments ecosystem.

Payments are no longer just about completing a sale — they’ve become an essential part of everyone’s business. Whether it’s through the global Visa Ready Creator Commerce Program, which helps creator-centric platforms embed financial tools leveraging Visa Direct technology to get paid faster and unlock new income streams, or by enabling payments facilitators to offer SMBs easier payments tools with its Acceptance Fast Track Program, Visa is enabling SMBs across industries and geographies. What better way to prepare to make 2024 a big year for even the smallest of business?

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