Visa Dispatches ‘Street Teams’ to Call on Small U.S. Businesses


Visa Inc. will dispatch workers to small businesses across the U.S. to help shops reopen and encourage additional use of its cards.

The payment network’s efforts will start in the 50 largest U.S. cities in coming weeks, with Visa hoping to ultimately reach 200,000 small businesses. Workers will educate merchants on options they have for accepting electronic payments and provide them with new signs to let customers know they’re open.

In some cases, the so-called street teams will give businesses signs that encourage customers to tap their credit and debit cards instead of dipping — a technology that is relatively new to the U.S. and has gotten a boost from the pandemic, with virus-conscious consumers preferring contact-free shopping.

“Tap-to-pay sits alongside face masks and hand sanitizer” at the checkout counter now, Suzan Kereere, Visa’s global head of merchant sales and acquiring, said in an interview. “That’s how shopping happens in this new normal.”

The plan comes after Visa and its competitors were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Spending on the firm’s cards slowed dramatically in recent months as governments around the world ordered businesses to close and people to stay at home to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

Visa’s street teams are part of a broader company effort to help 50 million small businesses around the world as they begin to reopen. The network is also establishing the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute to study problems including post-crisis recovery and opportunity gaps, and is developing new card rewards to encourage people to shop locally.

“It is unlikely that recovery will be a short spell,” Kereere said. “It will take some time for businesses and for most individuals to get back to whatever a new normal looks like.”

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