As the world faces unprecedented economic challenges, we know that our communities are being hit especially hard as Covid-19 unfolds.

The extraordinary economic challenges brought on by COVID-19 are also taking a toll on small and micro businesses, the backbone of our economy accounting for more than 99 percent of businesses, contributing to over 69% of employment in Ireland.

At Visa, we recognise the role we can play in keeping businesses, individuals and economies moving in the face of uncertainty by ensuring the entire payments ecosystem remains stable and secure. Over the past month, we have been working with clients, governments and our industry partners on various initiatives to support businesses in Ireland through this period.

Supporting the move to raise contactless limits

One of the immediate areas we worked with the wider industry on has been to support the rise in contactless payments limit to €50 on debit and credit cards. We know consumers are looking to use contactless as they shop for the things they need. Raising the contactless limit allows them to do that more easily and securely without having to enter their PIN. The rollout of the new limit began on 1st April.

Business owners also need to bear in mind Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) – part of the PSD2 regulation – designed to help reduce fraud. Part of SCA means banks must ask consumers to insert their PIN after a certain number of contactless taps to make sure they are the right cardholder. Business managers should be aware of this so that they can reassure consumers if a terminal says a tap has been “declined”, and encourage them to try using chip and PIN. Currently the maximum threshold for verification is €150, so consumers may need to enter their PIN in as little as after every three taps.

We remain committed to supporting businesses with the implementation of the new contactless limit including updating Visa’s self-serve Point of Sale (POS) portal with new material referencing the €50 limit. Small businesses can use the service to request signage, designed to inform and drive customer awareness of the new limits at point of sale.

Merchants simply need to register their details and order which asset they would like. Furthermore, merchants can get up to five pieces per asset delivered to them completely free of charge.

The portal also has a helpful guide on how merchants can use contactless payments to improve customer experience in-store.

For consumers and businesses, it is a simple but important step, helping to protect individuals and facilitate fast, reliable and secure digital payments.  What’s more, individuals and businesses can rest assured that contactless cards experience among the lowest fraud rates of any payment type.

Working with Billhop to help Irish businesses manage supplier payments

For many Irish businesses, access to finance and working capital is often the biggest barrier to future-proofing their business and driving long-term commercial success.

With this in mind, Visa has partnered with payment services firm Billhop, enabling small businesses in Ireland to pay their suppliers using their business credit card – regardless of whether or not their supplier accepts card payments.

Using the payment terms of their existing credit card, Irish businesses can more easily and conveniently manage invoicing and payments, freeing up vital working capital during times of uncertainty or for longer-term planning.

As per the agreement, Visa card users will get an exclusive preferential rate of 1.99% with Billhop, significantly below the headline rate of 2.95%.

Support for SMEs looking to go digital

As small businesses look to build their online presence, we’re working with partners across the industry to ensure they have the right tools and resources to help them through the process.

Our digital business kit brings together insight from various industry leaders to provide expert end-to-end guidance – from setting up and growing your digital presence, to transferring essential parts of your business online to meet the demands of your customers.

While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to reshape much of life and business as we know it, Visa’s core mission to connect the world to enable individuals, businesses and economies to thrive has never been more critical. We will continue to do our part in tackling the current challenges that we can assist with, as demonstrated by our contactless and Billhop initiatives to help businesses emerge stronger from the current crisis.

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