Cash versus digital challenge for merchants

Cash versus digital challenge for merchants

Visa unveiled the results of an independent study titled Value of Acceptance, which explores merchants’ attitudes towards digital payments and the impact of digital commerce on small businesses and retailers in the UAE. According to the study, more than 70% of UAE merchants surveyed claim increased revenue and higher customer footfall since accepting digital payments.

The survey gathered insights from two groups of UAE-based merchants – those who have accepted digital payments for 1-4 years, and retailers who exclusively deal in cash transactions. The top five store types represented in the survey include quick service restaurants, small grocery stores, tailors, fashion, apparel stores, and laundry with business sizes including nano, 2 or less employees; micro, 3-10 employees; and small, 11-49 employees.

According to the study, among card-accepting merchants both digital payments and cash together account for 90% of payments accepted among surveyed small businesses, with digital payments accounting for the larger portion.

The findings from Visa’s study show digital payments acceptance is an important driver in the growth of small businesses, with 68% of surveyed merchants accepting digital payments claimed acceptance of payment through card and mobile wallets is an essential investment that significantly contributes to their business growth. 67% of these merchants also claimed most of their customers prefer paying by card or mobile phone.

While digital payment-accepting merchants surveyed are aware of the associated costs with acceptance, 95% believe that the value and benefits derived from digital payment acceptance are at par with or exceed associated costs. In fact, 68% of retailers that accept digital payments are convinced of the overall value of digital payment acceptance, with 63% indicating a strong intention to invest in new payment technologies in the future.

While cash is associated with convenience and easy refunds, more than 25% of cash-only merchants have lost transactions because customers were not carrying cash. As a result, almost 40% of cash-only merchants surveyed plan to invest soon in digital payment technology so they can begin to offer consumers a better payment experience.

Around half expect digital payment acceptance to increase both footfall and revenue. Other digital payment benefits cited by merchants include speed with payment processing and checkout which makes businesses look more innovative.

Merchants that already accept digital payments expect a range of value-added services from their digital payments’ provider to enhance their payments infrastructure and offering for customers. The most frequently cited include:, Online payment acceptance, 49%; more secure, and efficient B2B payments, 48%; better ways to communicate unique offers to cardholders and loyalty programs, 43%; and mobile payment acceptance, like Visa’s Tap to Phone solution, 41%.

Additionally, multi-currency processing, 32% and fraud detection and prevention, 27% were revealed as areas where payment providers can further add value to local businesses.

Visa commissioned 4SiGHT Research and Analytics to explore the impact of digital payments on small retailers and gauge their level of openness to digital payment options among those currently accepting cash-only payments. 4SiGHT interviewed 250 nano, micro and small retailers in December 2023 out of which 46% accepted cash payments only and 54% accepted cash and digital payments.

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