Staff Writer
Aug 5, 2020

2020 Power List: How Mastercard and Tokopedia are helping SMEs get online

While it might be too early to tell if the pandemic will usher in new strategies, it has definitely accelerated processes that were underway in the pre-pandemic age. We talk to two company leaders who have been helping small businesses sell online.

2020 Power List: How Mastercard and Tokopedia are helping SMEs get online

This is part of an article series for the Power List 2020, created in partnership with Twitter as part of their global #LeadersforGood initiative. 

If you haven’t used a food delivery app or shopped online, you might soon be in the minority. According to Criteo, 52% of APAC consumers say they’re making more  online as a result of Covid, with that number going up to 60% among millennials. Obviously, online adoption didn’t happen because of Covid. There’s been a proliferation of digital and e-commerce platforms across Asia in the last few years, bolstered by wider wifi coverage, better connectivity and ready access to mobile devices. Yet, the pandemic has accelerated that adoption, says Rustom Dastoor, SVP, marketing and communications, Asia Pacific at Mastercard. 

In the past few months, Mastercard has been helping SMEs transition to a digital economy by helping them set up online payments. “There are hundreds and millions of small business owners all over Asia - India alone has 60 million small businesses. The ability to take these folks online is essential and critical. They shouldn’t be excluded from the economy," notes Dastoor. 

Rustom Dastoor

Contactless is also becoming a new normal for shoppers.  “When people go shopping, they’re hyper-aware of handling items that are not sanitised.” Mastercard has been working with governments to raise this threshold so that more transactions can fall under the ambit of contactless. 

The SVP is conscious that adoption doesn't only depend on creating the right product - the messaging also needs to be right to bring more people onboard the digital and contactless payment world.

“First-time my parents, as marketers, our role is to ensure that they feel confident in using it. That is the only way to bring in people who have been excluded from the financial mainstream to help evolve the digital economy.” Though he is also aware of not appearing opportunistic. “I’m inclined to quote our global CMO [Raja Rajamannar], “now is a time to serve, not to sell”. [In our messaging], our goal right now is to make people feel empowered, that they can trust our products and services. If we do that successfully during a difficult time, they will stay with us as cardholders.”

Tokopedia is another company that is empowering businesses during this time. 

Since Covid, the e-commerce platform, which made up 1% of the Indonesian GDP in 2019, has gotten millions of mom and pop stores in the country online. At time of writing, there are 8.3 million SMEs selling on Tokopedia. 

The company is more than a passive middleman. It is en route to creating a “super eco-system”, working with over 15 logistics companies to ensure that goods are delivered to 97% of Indonesia, and 50 payment partners to allow people to sell and buy products at greater ease. “Imagine, if you open a store [on Tokopedia], you can leverage all our infrastructure,” says Kevin Mintaraga, VP at Tokopedia. 

Mintaraga also says Tokopedia has been investing in advertising solutions - the recent partnership with GroupM being an important initiative. “We understand there is a real need for brands to target consumers. We have the solution, and with GroupM’s expertise, it’s about helping businesses go further within the ecosystem.” 

Kevin Mintaraga

Yet, what happens when Covid is over, and the world comes out of lockdown? Will e-platforms like Tokopedia see an exodus of shops that have signed on during the pandemic? He says he isn’t worried. “If you look at the population of online shoppers before the pandemic, it was already rising, and that’s only going to get bigger and bigger. I’m confident that merchants can manage both physical and online stores.” 

And it is this hybridity that will have huge implications for marketers, who’d not only be able to do more precise targeting but also take advantage of the fluidity between online and offline to engage with their customers in fresh, creative ways. 

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