Jul 9, 2020

Mastercard: digital acceleration for SMEs in the US & Canada

Georgia Wilson
3 min
Online shopping
Mastercard drives digital acceleration for US and Canadian SMEs by expanding ShopOpenings.com which identifies nearby stores open for business...

As businesses strive to draw customers back in store and online following the impact of COVID-19, Mastercard has recently announced the introduction of its new solution to support small businesses as part of the global initiative ‘Digital Acceleration for Small Business’, which helps to digital advance small businesses and drive ecommerce. 

In the announcement, Mastercard detailed its geographical expansion of ShopOpenings.com, a new online search solution which confirms which shops and businesses are open to customers. Mastercard is now providing this capability to the United States and Canada. The company also introduced a global initiative - ‘Digital Acceleration for Small Business - to deliver insights and resources for small business owners looking to expand digitally and develop an online presence. The initiative is set to be rolled out in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean first. 

Welcoming customers back and digital transformation

By leveraging Mastercard insights, ShopOpening.com features built in data analysis via its partnership with Sixth Sense, to provide a continuously updated platform detailing which local shops and businesses are open including those reopening after temporarily closing due to COVID-19.

The unique platform includes all types of retailers including restaurants, pharmacies, dry cleaner and boutiques, and identifies merchants that accept contactless payments In addition the platform is optimised for mobile phones to support consumers that are on the go, and is regularly updated to ensure that it is reliable with the information that it provides. 

“Businesses large and small are the engine of growth for economies around the world and right now they need our collective support to navigate these uncharted times,” commented Jess Turner, Executive Vice President Products & Innovation in North America for Mastercard. “The resiliency and drive of small business owners is unprecedented and ensuring they have the tools and resources necessary is the single most important thing we can all do for economic and social vitality.”

With many consumers shifting to digital shopping due to the pandemic to accommodate evolving customer behaviours, small businesses are developing new revenue streams. To help with this online expansion, Mastercard has launched its initiative to provide small businesses with a pathway to expand their online presence, protect their operations and remain successful among the new normal.

The initiative has been customised regionally, delivering localised end-to-end tools launched in the United States, Latin America and Caribbean first. Mastercard has also implemented ‘Digital Doors’ with partners such as BigCommerce, Hello Alice and Shopify as well as harnessing its own cybersecurity solutions; online checkout, ‘Click to Pay’ and customisable digital skills curriculum.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Mastercard is also partnering with Linio, INCAE, Leafgrow and Sheworks to launch the initiative.

ShopOpenings.com and Digital Acceleration for Small Business are part of Mastercard’s wider Recovery Insights program designed to support businesses and governments across the globe with resources to help better manage the health, safety and economic risks presented by COVID-19. 

Mastercard’s recovery insights can be found here.

For more information on business topics in the United States and Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America.

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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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