By Team BitBol,
Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, has launched their ‘Where You Shop Matters’ (WYSM) initiative in Pakistan with Daraz, the country’s leading online marketplace. The campaign aims to empower and support small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic and is part of a larger Visa effort spanning the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region.
The small-and-medium enterprises (SME) sector, which accounts for 40% of Pakistan’s GDP, has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the slump in commercial and trade activity. 
Social distancing measures have severely hurt smaller businesses with reduced demand and supply chain disruptions, particularly those that are largely offline and rely on personal visits to markets.
The WYSM initiative aims to help support small businesses in Pakistan by providing access to the Visa Small Business Hub, a merchant platform providing resourceful tools and information on how to start, run and grow small businesses. The WYSM website will also showcase selected small businesses who have succeeded in Pakistan using Daraz’s online marketplace platform, logistics infrastructure and training support. The partnership will encourage Visa customers in Pakistan to shop on Daraz which has over 30,000 businesses selling their products through Daraz’s online platform to all corners of the country.
Both Daraz and Visa have also separately rolled out several initiatives to support small businesses since the outbreak. Daraz’s Humqadam program is providing holistic business and financial support to SMEs that can help them start selling online, including a waiver of commission fees for the months of May and June this year. In early April, the Visa Foundation announced a five year, strategic $210 million commitment to support small and micro businesses across the world. The WYSM initiative will further leverage the digital and network strengths of Visa and Daraz.
A recent Visa-commissioned study conducted in Pakistanto understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on shopping and security related behavior found that the impact of the virus has significantly altered the physical store shopping behavior of consumers in Pakistan, with 43% having significantly reduced shopping in-store. When they do shop in-store, 55% of consumers use digital payments, with the majority using mobile wallets (51%), and the remaining using cards – both chip and pin (48%) and contactless (37%).
The same study also revealed that more than half of consumers (52%) are making more purchases online during the pandemic, with a 53% reduction in the number of consumers opting to pay cash on delivery. Echoing these trends in consumer behavior, Daraz’s eCommerce Index noted that a large segment of Pakistani shoppers have identified eCommerce platforms as a solution for their shopping needs during these uncertain times.
Kamil Khan, Country Manager Pakistan, Visa said: “The pandemic has changed how and where consumers shop with the majority adopting digital payments and moving to online platforms. Meanwhile, small businesses in Pakistan, and especially cash-only merchants, have been severely impacted and are struggling to survive. While these shifts present challenges, they also present enormous opportunities for merchants in Pakistan to transform their operations and continue generating revenue with new potential customer bases online. Our ‘Where You Shop Matters’ initiative helps local vendors navigate these unexpected challenges and empowers them back to business by leveraging digital commerce.”
Ehsan Saya, Managing Director, Daraz Pakistan said: “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our efforts have been geared towards empowering our growing community of 30,000 marketplace sellers and safeguarding SMEs across the country from the economic downturn. We are dedicated towards creating opportunities for small businesses to benefit from the accelerated rate of digital adoption we have witnessed among consumers in Pakistan by facilitating their transition towards ecommerce. We are proud of our partnership with Visa and confident that it will further stimulate the critical SME sector of Pakistan.”
For more details on Visa’s Where You
Shop Matters campaign, or to find out how you can support a small business near
you visit the WYSM
 Over 600 consumers were interviewed between April and May 2020 as part of Visa commissioned research in Pakistan.