UAE SMBs are Optimistic About the Future Business: Visa Study


The Visa Back to Business global research study has surveyed SMB owners and their customers since the onset of the global pandemic. The vast majority (88%) of SMBs in the UAE are optimistic about the future of their business. This includes 64% (compared to 50% globally) who are very optimistic, which is the highest proportion of all markets surveyed. Nearly half (49% vs. 40% globally) of SMBs in the UAE say accepting contactless payments is among their top investment areas to meet consumer expectations. The majority (84% vs. 74% globally) of SMBs in the UAE believe that customers will continue to prefer contactless payments as much or more than they do today.

Nearly all (92%) consumers in the UAE say COVID-19 have permanently changed their payment habits (compared to 68% globally). Nearly three in four (73%) UAE consumers would not shop at a store that does not accept contactless payments (compared to 44% globally). One in three (33% vs. 21% globally) UAE consumers have not used cash in the last week, the second-highest among all markets.

More than half (56% vs. 33% globally) of UAE consumers say they are at least somewhat more likely to shop in person compared to last summer, the highest among all markets.

Unlocking Access to the Digital Economy

Recognizing that greater digitization of commerce can bring enormous benefits to small businesses, Visa has continued to deepen and localize its commitment to SMBs in the UAE over the last 18 months to help them revitalize and reinvent their businesses.

Visa claimed, it has:

  • been working with several UAE banks to pilot Tap to Phone solutions that make it easier for local merchants to accept payments using only an Android smartphone;
  • launched ADCB Pace Pay – UAE’s first virtual point of sale (POS) payment terminal with ADCB on both android and iOS platforms;
  • rolled out the “Rapid Seller Onboarding” to enable SMBs to accept digital payments from their customers in-store/at point-of-sale or online within just seven working days;
  • And conducted targeted studies such as Small Business Recovery and launched the Stay Secure campaign – in collaboration with DED and Dubai Police – intending to understand regional SME painpoints and provide actionable insights to small businesses.

“With an 18-month view into the pandemic now, we have seen that small businesses that have embraced digital commerce and cross-border selling have generally weathered the pandemic and that seemingly small pivots toward digital commerce can continue to make the difference between a small business surviving and thriving,” said Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE.

Methodology: Visa Back to Business Study

The Visa Back to Business Study: 5th Edition, was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 15-28, 2021, among 2,250 small business owners at companies with 100 employees or fewer in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.