The novel coronavirus has hit the world with a one-two punch: first, to our health and second, to our economies. As America faces down this crisis, we are all looking for ways to help. Corporations and governments are coming together to speed the search for a vaccine, get money to those most in need and to help support small businesses — the backbone of our economy.
This nation’s nearly 30 million small businesses represent 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses. When these businesses suffer, the nation suffers. And right now, they are amongst the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have all seen our favorite local restaurants, gyms, salons, stores and services limit their offerings or even close their doors. And while we hope these changes will be temporary, we also know some of these changes will be part of the new normal as we adjust to a post-COVID world. Since we don’t know how long social distancing will need to be in place, it’s imperative we help small businesses adjust and keep going during this difficult time.
That’s why we’ve come together with the White House, Congress and our fellow business leaders to help. We applaud the government’s efforts to offer urgently needed policy and financial lifelines to help America’s small businesses. The $350 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loans will provide much-needed support that will hopefully allow these entrepreneurs to rehire and weather the crisis.
Now more than ever, our physical Main Streets need help as they transform into thriving digital Main Streets – all while keeping their businesses and their employees protected. These small businesses need support and guidance as they transition to online and delivery models quickly so they can pivot to meet consumers’ new consumption needs.
As an organization that has a pulse on the physical and digital economy, there are three areas of focus that small business needs to see today from our industry: financial support, cybersecurity, and market intelligence.
Yesterday, we committed $250 million in financial, technology, product and insight assets over the next five years to small businesses in the United States and other markets where we operate, supporting the financial security and vitality of businesses and their workers. This links to a commitment Mastercard made in 2018 to put $500 million in savings from the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act toward driving inclusive growth through the Mastercard Impact Fund.
We have an opportunity and responsibility to help support the efforts to respond to and recover from this crisis. We’ve worked with governments and NGOs across a number of programs over the years, including helping to provide efficient distribution of aid and benefits and we are ready to help ensure necessary funds get into small business owners hands quickly.
In addition to our new commitment to financial support, we know that commerce will only start to flourish if safety and security are factored in. It’s crucial that online transactions are safe so small businesses can retain the trust of existing customers and even find new ones. During times of crisis, there can be a heightened risk of cyberattacks. To that end, we will also offer free cyber vulnerability assessments and identity theft protections to the nation’s 28 million small businesses—as well as their 57 million employees. This will help millions of small businesses understand the cyber vulnerabilities in their system. We’ll partner with them to help prioritize the issues that need to be fixed first and repair any critical vulnerabilities.
And lastly, to help small business owners pivot operations and drive more effective marketing and promotions, we are making our local market insights solution available through banks and fintechs. The solution is accessible to any small business who accepts card payments; it provides insight into local consumer spending patterns, leveraging Mastercard's anonymized data.
Today, we must all be focused on supporting one another. We’re proud to help small businesses in the U.S., but we know there’s so much more work to be done on multiple fronts. With that, we echo the U.S. administration’s call for the private sector to step up and join these efforts. We are inspired by the resiliency and spirit of American workers and small businesses who continue to adapt to overcome these challenges. Together, we will get through this crisis.