Whether it’s tapping your phone for a coffee or buying a new pair of shoes online with a single click, it’s become more accessible than ever for Canadian consumers to pay for the things they want. But for business owners, these now-routine conveniences only underscore that outdated payment systems and processes drag down their ability to serve customers efficiently and leave many rethinking how they can better manage their business operations.
“The gap between consumer and B2B payments feels ever widening,” says Jim Filice, vice-president, and head of new payments at Visa Canada. “In the last decade, there’s been so much innovation in our consumer and personal lives. But so many B2B transactions are still done via cheque and slow bank transfers. These antiquated payment methods are holding businesses back and it’s no longer necessary, we aren’t talking about early adoption because the tools are tested, proven and ready to be integrated.”
Helping business owners do more of what they love
Despite rising inflation and concerns about an economic downturn, Visa Canada’s most recent Small Business Pulse Report1 showed Canadian small- and-medium-sized business owners have impressive resilience and optimism. According to the report, 65 per cent of Canadian small- and mid-sized business owners and operators describe their feelings positively optimistic, fortunate, happy.
For Filice, bringing the speed and convenience of consumer payments to businesses is a key opportunity for realizing these hopeful outlooks.
“Entrepreneurs go into business because they have a passion. But they quickly find themselves buried in administration,” he says. “For so many years, we saw these businesses running off ledgers on a piece of paper or managing an Excel spreadsheet. But today, we can do more to help businesses thrive, well beyond expediting purchase transactions; Visa’s payment methods function as a digital accountant: automating processes, managing cash flow, all while providing real-time updates for every payment activity.”
When back-end functions are slow and cumbersome, they can erode business results in numerous ways—impeding cash flow (in turn, requiring owners to obtain financing—a costlier endeavour amid rising interest rates). Accelerating the ability to send and receive money means everyone can be more confident and efficient in their business operations.
Making up 98 per cent of all employer businesses in the country, according to StatsCan2, it’s no exaggeration to say small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. So, whether it’s arranging vendor payments or reconciling employee expenses, Filice firmly believes the adoption of digital payment methods and technologies can be transformative for a business.
“Small businesses are anything but small to Visa,” he says. “As the largest small business payment network in the world, we’re looking beyond just the act of payment. We’re focused on how we can improve all these processes to help businesses be more competitive and do more of what they love.”
The future is fast and flexible
At Visa, the first step to unleashing better payments is simply giving business owners easy-to-use tools for better insights and control in managing their finances.
“Platforms like Visa Spend Clarity can really become a central hub for expense management. It’s one-stop for everything like documenting expenses to controlling spending on cards,” Filice says. As one example, he notes that the platform enables businesses to create virtual credit cards with specific and limited purposes, such as a card earmarked for a one-time spend for office supplies or ongoing regular payments to a specific provider. These tools become the heartbeat of a business with a clear and data-driven pulse of the business’s financial health.
The real improvements for small businesses will come from digital adoption within individual organizations and the B2B solutions network. That’s why Visa invests in digital tools to help companies, like integrating transactions with accounting software tools so businesses can streamline their finances and spend more time on scaling their operations. Visa also works closely with emerging B2B companies to foster new solutions that break down additional barriers via its Fintech Fast Track Program.
“Where we’re really focused is on enabling the whole ecosystem,” Filice says. “If we can build a better digital financial ecosystem and improve both sides of transactions, then we can improve the economics and efficiency for business.”
Ready to modernize your payments system? Talk to your bank about integrating Visa’s Spend Clarity into your business or visit Visa’s Small Business Hub to find more resources on adopting new, efficient payment methods.
1. Visa Small Business Pulse Report, Canada, Maru Group, February 2023.
2. Statistics Canada. (2023). Table 33-10-0661-01 Canadian Business Counts, with employees, December 2022