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‘Businesses need to develop risk strategies that promote payment security’

Online transactions have increased in recent months as both consumers and businesses shift online in conforming to the new realities of limited human interaction. Kemi Okusanya, vice president, Visa West Africa in an emailed response to some interview questions, sheds some light on how the company plans to supports small businesses to weather the storm. Caleb Ojewale provides excerpts:

It appears there has been a focus on SMES recently, is there a particular reason for this? According to a study commissioned and published by PWC, SMES contribute 48 percent of national GDP, account for 96 percent of businesses and 84 percent of employment in Nigeria. This means that SMES are the backbone of our communities. Their significant value in the community positions them as an essential factor, contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

Unfortunately, SMES were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the change in consumer behaviour took a toll on their revenue. As a result, providing extraordinary support to help small businesses navigate this extraordinary time became expedient for us at Visa. This is why we decided to support SMES through our Where You Shop Matters initiative

Read also: SMEs: Essence of cashflow

What does this ‘ Where You Shop Matters Initiative’ really entail?

The ‘Where You Shop Matters’ initiative enables entrepreneurs by providing them with the tools and information required to start, run, and grow small businesses online while encouraging consumers to support small businesses. At its core, the initiative is a movement. A call for merchants to tap into the expertise of thought-leaders to shape their future. A call to the consumer to understand the power of spending and the importance of supporting the local economies.

It is also a call to the industry and the ecosystem to do what we can to support these businesses.

This is about everyone coming together to support small business owners around the country.

In what ways are you as an organisation helping to drive SME growth in Nigeria?

We are focusing on promoting digital commerce and economic growth, with plans to continue to create products and services as the needs of entrepreneurs change over time. We are committed to empowering digitalfirst businesses. To see to the realization of this, we have built localized online resource centres, providing tools, partnership offers, and information on how to start, run and grow small digital- first businesses.

Also, we are encouraging digital payments as well as advocating neighbourhood support for local businesses. We want customers to be conscious of the importance of shopping locally.

With more online transactions, fraud cases may also increase. How is Visa ensuring consumers’ security?

We take security very seriously and we continue to provide and improve on solutions necessary to protect both our merchants and consumers. For nearly 20 years, we have been helping online merchants and issuers identify potentially fraudulent transactions.

As e- commerce in Nigeria is growing rapidly, consumers expect always- on connectivity with mobile devices and rely on retailers to provide payment experience, both secure and frictionless. As a result, we recently introduced Visa Secure (previously known as Verified by Visa), an updated program to help make online payments more secure. This solution provides rules and policies that merchants and issuing banks have to follow to authenticate e-commerce transactions and verify cardholders’ identity before a transaction can be authorized.

Consumers can benefit from a smoother and consistent user experience across multiple payment channels, including mobile web, in-app and digital wallet payments, without any compromise in security.

What are your key lessons from the impacts of the pandemic and how would you advice SMES to position for economic recovery?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an unprecedented acceleration of digital adoption throughout our industry and the broader society at large. While the near-term response has focused on maintaining business continuity, we think businesses should develop risk strategies that promote payment security and strengthen the trust foundation necessary for long-term recovery and growth. As more consumers have tilted towards the online method of shopping, we believe that there is a need for SMES to embrace digital commerce. We have quality resources available for free on our website –

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