According to the latest Mastercard Impact Study™ for SMEs by Data & Services, more than two thirds of SMEs in Malaysia expect their businesses to recover from the effects of the pandemic by April, while 80 percent indicated they have sufficient resources to see out the rest of the year.
The study, which was conducted at the end of 2020 and is part of a series focusing on the sentiment of businesses during Covid-19, found positive levels of optimism among Malaysia’s SMEs.
According to the survey, 31 percent of Malaysian SMEs are making investments now to ensure that they’re prepared for an economic turnaround. Furthermore, over the course of the pandemic, 21 percent established an online presence for their business, and 39 percent enhanced an existing online operation in order to better reach customers.
In fact, between one fifth to one third of the businesses surveyed, depending on their industry, indicated that their operations had returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the manufacturing sector seeing the strongest return to form.
When asked about what issues they have found most pressing during the pandemic, respondents indicated labor, finance, and sales were their biggest concerns, at 74 percent, 64 percent, and 63 percent, respectively.
In terms of support from financial institutions, 85 percent of the respondents felt that assistance from banks has been either good or excellent. When asked about what form of support would be most valuable to their operations, 66 percent of SMEs wanted lower interest rates on loans, while 52 percent wanted extended grace periods on debt repayment.
Half of the respondents were fully aware of the extent of the financial support offered by banks, which indicates an opportunity for financial institutions to conduct additional outreach with small businesses to help them better understand their options.
Additionally, 46 percent indicated an intention to move towards using non-cash options for payments. This is most likely a response to the way in which the pandemic drove a marked shift towards digitalization, as contactless payments became safer for both consumers and employees, and electronic payments saw increased usage for online purchases.
“While there’s no doubt the Malaysian economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, the findings of this report give us cause to have optimism for recovery this year. The fact that so many SMEs have regained stability or are on the path to doing so is a testament to their strength and resolve in adopting new and more digital ways of doing business. Mastercard is working actively to support SMEs and businesses of all sizes as they adapt to a new normal, ensuring that they have the technologies and business insights they need to thrive in an economy that’s becoming ever more digital by the day,” Perry Ong, Country Manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard said.
In January 2021, Mastercard launched the Digital Acceleration for Small Businesses microsite across most of its Asia Pacific websites, including Malaysia, with information and resources on how to digitalize and run businesses more efficiently.
In addition, Mastercard Data & Services is actively supporting many businesses and government organizations, in Malaysia and around the world, with real-time data-driven insights to help them better understand and respond to the challenges created by Covid-19.