SMBs in Asia Pacific share how payments and technology drive them forward

In Asia Pacific, optimism is quietly blooming for owners of small and medium businesses (SMBs), even amid economic uncertainties. Payments and technology are fueling this wave, as three small business owners across Asia Pacific share how digital tools and payments are helping them thrive both at home and abroad.

A sparkling future for sustainable soap

Singapore-based Li Ting founded her vegan soap label, My Naked Bar, to fulfil a personal purpose: help more people successfully transition to good bar soaps, and to promote low-waste living for a better planet. She crafts the soaps herself, packaging them in recycled milk cartons.

My Naked Bar has always relied on digital payments, whether for sourcing ingredients and supplies or transacting with customers. According to Li Ting, digital has been a major revenue stream since day one.

“Digitalisation is our platform for growth,” she says. “It removes boundaries and helps us carry our message much wider and further to both consumers as well as organizations.”

Li’s feedback mirrors what Visa has found in its latest Back to Business study. Across Asia Pacific, it found that 85% of SMBs are very or extremely optimistic about their business, bolstered by a growing trust in tech and payments.

Sharing the “green diamond of Vietnam” with the globe

Artisanal teas are gaining popularity in many parts of the world, from the United States, Canada, Japan, to Europe. Tapping into this market is Dang Tran Hieu, founder of Tam Dao Quan (TeaDailyGo Vietnam) that produces ancient Shan Tuyet tea.

Today he is excited to help people experience Vietnamese culture through tea - the ‘green diamond of Vietnam’. Online payments, supported by Visa, is helping not only locals, but also customers from all over the world experience a piece of Vietnamese culture conveniently and safely. “I am satisfied to know that people from all over the world can enjoy tea thanks to safe shopping on our website,” Dang says.

He is not alone. Many SMB owners today are turning to cashless payments. Of SMBs surveyed in Visa’s Back to Business study, 98% believe in becoming cashless. Among them, 59% expect to be fully cashless in 2 years and 90% expect to do so within 5 years.

E-commerce for the artisans of Japan

In Asia Pacific and beyond, easier ordering and payment through digital channels makes acquiring customers far more achievable. Visa’s survey backs that up, with 39% of SMBs believing new forms of payment are their best opportunity to reach new customers.

It’s something that Japanese entrepreneur Akira Hirose is discovering with his e-commerce store, Master Craftsmanship. He sells artisanal Japanese products to overseas customers, from fashion and accessories to homewares. His makers come from different parts of Japan and all their work is of the highest quality.

Like Dang, Akira’s vision is to spread the unique culture and aesthetics of his country. With his digital store, he’s able to overcome geographical limitations to reach overseas markets – and importantly, provide a seamless experience for customers.

Digital payments, enabled by Visa, are an essential ingredient in his model. As Akira says, “I think that introducing this will lead to a good customer experience for people who are looking for such things in the huge overseas market.”

Helping SMBs evolve and win

Digital payments and platforms give access to important markets for SMBs in Asia Pacific. They also help owners manage inventory, workflow, sales, and marketing – saving not just on business costs, but time. Busy entrepreneurs like Li Ting, Dang and Akira are freed up to focus on growing their businesses and taking advantage of future opportunities.

Through digital payments and the latest tech, Visa offers support to SMBs so they can thrive every step of the way in their journey – even the solopreneurs and the smallest of business ventures.

Visit the Visa Asia Pacific Small Business Hub to learn more about how Visa can help.