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Mastercard - the global technology company in the payments industry - announced a new digital platform with local and regional partners to help small businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean take the digital leap quickly and safely in a time when COVID-19 imposes new types of commerce and payments.

Mastercard’s Digital Acceleration Platform for Small Businesses is aimed at delivering new services, benefits, and resources to companies that are “the backbone of the economy and a fundamental pillar for the community” in Latin American and Caribbean countries, said Daniel Acosta, VP of Commercial Products for Mastercard Latin America and the Caribbean.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up 99% of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to data managed by Mastercard, a company present in more than 210 countries and territories, these companies contribute 30% of the regional Gross Domestic Product and employ 70% of the working population. SMEs have between 1 and 50 employees and a total income of up to two million dollars a year.

At this time, SMEs are the most vulnerable segment to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease has forced people to take extreme hygiene measures, stay at home, or keep a distance from other people. These restrictions have influenced more consumers to choose online shopping and stop making cash payments.

Acosta notes that e-commerce, measured by the volume of card payments, has gone from growing 22% in annual terms to over 30% in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the same time, many micro or small businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean have not adapted to digitalization in a “quick way” and are not ready for change.

To help support these companies, Mastercard has created its Digital Acceleration Platform for Small Businesses, says Acosta, who states that a survey by a consulting firm reports that more than 4.5 million micro- entrepreneurs and small business owners will lose approximately 13 billion US dollars as a result from the pandemic.

A NETWORK FOR A SAFE DIGITAL LEAP

Daniel Acosta also points out that entering the digital space is not just a matter of “building a website for online commerce.” In order to achieve a successful experience, there are several aspects to consider, such as logistics, remote talent management, protection against cyberattacks, specific digital business administration measures, access to marketplaces, and digital marketing. Mastercard’s initiative, launched exclusively in Latin America and the Caribbean and the United States, encompasses all of that.

Small businesses can now access the website https://bit.ly/des_alianzadigital to connect with regional and local partners and take advantage of all available resources. Acosta states that as long as we continue living in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these benefits will be free or available at a discounted price.

Mastercard will also work with small business associations in each country to ensure that this initiative can reach as many small businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean as possible.

“The digital health of small businesses - not only through this crisis but beyond - is a key strategic priority for Mastercard,” said Daniel Acosta, VP of Commercial Products for Mastercard LAC.

As part of its commitment to support small businesses, Mastercard recently announced it would bring 50 million small businesses, including 25 million women entrepreneurs, into the digital economy by 2025. Also, it pledged $250 million to support small businesses globally over the next five years.