Data from Mastercard’s 2022 Borderless Payments Report has revealed that two in five (42%) of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in South Africa are earning more money than before the pandemic.

Online business and international sales are key drivers, with three-quarters (77%) recording above-global-average growth in online sales, while 76% are planning to do more business internationally going forward.

The research, which covered over 3 000 small businesses from around the world, highlighted that 75% of SMEs had to make changes to their business model to survive the pandemic – 79% in South Africa – whilst 75% in the country believe it has changed how they will do business forever.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation to tap into cross-border opportunities, with over half (51%) saying they now do more business internationally.

Almost seven in 10 (68%) respondents credit cross-border payments with enabling their business to grow, making it clear that cross-border payments will be a key focus for business growth in South Africa, and therefore economic recovery, moving forward. 58% said they are now making and receiving more cross-border payments than they were prior to the pandemic.

In fact, over two thirds (69%) say the pandemic has allowed them to source more competitive quotes from suppliers across borders and 46% say using international suppliers reduces risk.

Stephen Grainger, executive vice-president of Mastercard, says: “The unprecedented disruption introduced by the pandemic has realigned South African and global economics, with many SMEs looking keenly towards prospects in new markets.

“With small businesses in South Africa and across the world growing their international customer and supplier networks at pace, especially online, it’s crucial that financial institutions have the right cross-border solutions in place to support them.

“Cross-border payment systems must become faster, cheaper and more secure. Through a single point of access, Mastercard Cross-Border Services allows businesses to send and receive money safely and with the certainty they crave.”