Dubai: More than 90 per cent of small businesses in the UAE are starting to feel optimistic – that’s according to a new study by Visa.
But these businesses reckon that it will be a further six months before they expect to get back into full operations. The sense of optimism among local businesses is higher than what their global counterparts feel – with only 67 per cent saying they were reasonably confident.
Over two in five of local SMEs now have contact payments in place after the pandemic broke out, and forced businesses to make changes in the way they connected with customers. And three in five even said they stopped accepting cash during the pandemic.
According to the Visa study, 9 out of 10 consumers in the UAE have changed how they pay due to COVID-19, including shopping online when possible (59 per cent), using contactless payments (52 per cent) and not using cash as much (40 per cent).
Yet there are hurdles
Despite the mindset change among business owners, problems remain. According to Visa, “92 per cent of merchants in the UAE still have concerns about shifting their business online or increasing online presence (compared to 74 per cent globally), highlighting the need for additional support to help SMEs transition to digital.”
“Consumers are putting COVID-19 safety measures at the top of their shopping agenda and favouring businesses that do the same,” said Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE. “Historically, we have seen behaviour change at the point of sale as a gradual shift over time.
"But COVID-19 has created an immediate need for safer, more efficient shopping experiences both online and offline as consumers rapidly migrate to digital commerce."