MasterCard Research Uncovers Disparities Between Geographies and Industry Sectors

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Purchase, NY – (June 4, 2014) – Technology is often referred to as “the great equalizer,” but new research released today proves adoption of technology can present significant challenges for small businesses looking to level the playing field with their larger counterparts. MasterCard’s Merchant Scope study of small-to-mid-sized businesses in Canada, Brazil, Germany and South Africa found that, while nearly 90 percent have an online presence, only one in five actually offers consumers the option to buy their products and services on an eCommerce site. The two most cited barriers to adopting new technology were cost (46 percent) and a lack of know-how (31 percent).

“Advances in technology – including payments – have often presented an opportunity for small businesses to level the playing field,” said Theodore Iacobuzio, Vice President, Global Insights for MasterCard. “But, as consumers take advantage of emerging technologies like mobile to access deals and rewards, businesses of all sizes find themselves needing to create an ‘always on,’ omni-channel presence or mobile app to attract new and repeat customers. Many small businesses, in particular, find this to be challenging.”

The Merchant Scope study also showed regional differences in technology adoption. For example, 92 percent of Brazilian merchants consider technology vital to running their businesses, compared with less than half of German merchants (46 percent). On average, 56 percent of Canadian and Brazilian merchants use smartphones to assist in running their businesses, while only about 32 percent of German and South African merchants do the same.

From an industry standpoint, Hospitality and Restaurants were found to invest a larger portion of their revenue on consumer-facing technology (8.1 percent) and back-office systems (11.8 percent) than other industries. Hospitality businesses are the most likely to have an eCommerce website to attract travelers and to utilize e-email marketing. More than half (51 percent) of Restaurants are using software for inventory management. Regardless of the industry and location, the most cited marketing challenges revolve around identifying and reaching new customers.  More than 32 percent of businesses surveyed said Internet marketing and promotion was most challenging, while 28 percent cited offering loyalty benefits and targeted deals to customers as particularly daunting.

“The barriers of cost and a lack of expertise are holding back small businesses from unlocking their true potential.  This is important, not only for merchants, but also for the technology providers, banks and governments who support them,” said Iacobuzio. “Now that we better understand the obstacles small businesses are facing, we can work with all of the players in this ecosystem to tailor solutions and technologies to help them be more successful and better engines of economic growth.’”

For more detailed findings, visit the interactive Merchant Scope website and research report titled, “Merchant Scope: Small to Mid-Sized Merchants Seek Competitive Technology in Omni-Channel World.” Visitors to the website can also create customized reports that show how businesses of a particular industry, market, or size responded to the survey questions and get tailored insights for the segment that matters most to them. 


 The Merchant Scope study was conducted between August and November 2013. The study included qualitative and quantitative research among business owners and technology decision makers across more than 1,000 small-to-mid-sized businesses in four global markets – Canada, Brazil, Germany and South Africa. For this study, small businesses were divided into three categories by size: micro businesses (businesses with one to nine employees); small businesses (10 to 49 employees); and medium businesses (50 to 500 employees). MasterCard defined the relevant merchants as one of four basic types:

  • Retail – Examples include clothing stores, sporting goods, housewares, and grocery stores
  • Personal Services – Pharmacies, dry cleaning, auto repair shops, and barber shops or salons
  • Restaurants – Food service establishments and cafes
  • Hospitality – Hotel and lodging businesses, including travel agencies

About MasterCard MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau. # # # Media Contact: Marisa Grimes 914-249-2024