Vice President and Head of Product for Visa Canada, Brian Weiner sat down with CanadianSME to talk about the ways that VISA is helping small business owners with innovative products and resources to help them overcome the most challenging parts of their jobs so they can be as successful as possible.
Brian Weiner is the Vice President and Head of Product for Visa Canada. His organization is responsible for the development and roll-out of Visa’s full Canadian product suite, including its traditional credit, debit, and prepaid products, as well as its expanding array of digital products and capabilities.
Since 2006, Brian has been an active member of Visa’s leadership team, responsible for shaping the organization’s strategy through one of the most dynamic periods in the history of the payments business in Canada.
Looking ahead, Brian and his team are focused on re-imagining the future of payments in collaboration with many partners across the payment’s ecosystem in Canada and around the world. Brian has won multiple awards for his work in evolving electronic payments in Canada, and he was recognized as a global winner of Visa’s Go Beyond program.
Brian has been in the Canadian financial services industry since 1997. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce from Carleton University. Brian lives in Toronto with his wife Shelley and their two daughters.
As VP and Head of Product for Visa Canada, can you tell us about how you’re planning to implement products and resources that can benefit Canadian small business owners?
Small businesses are the backbone of Canada’s economy – they not only bring jobs and innovation to local communities but also contribute to annual spend. In our digital economy, where consumers are accustomed to on-demand services and experiences, Canadians are unsurprisingly motivated to buy from businesses that offer convenient, easy and increasingly digital shopping experiences. Competitive payment experience is no longer a “nice-to-have” for businesses, but rather a necessity.
Visa is committed to delivering services, products and programs to help small businesses grow. Whether it is Visa’s core credit card products, or products like Visa Business Reporting, which allow small businesses access to valuable insights into their spending behaviour and tracks expenses on the go, the future of Visa small business products will be increasingly digital, mobile and flexible. The recent announcement between Visa and PayPal illustrates this focus on creating a seamless digital experience.
Starting a small business has a number of challenges. What do you believe is the most challenging part of being an SME owner and how can Visa Canada help?
For small businesses, the ability to manage cash flow is critical to their growth and success. Recent research conducted by Intuit QuickBooks found that nearly 2 in 3 (64%) Canadian small businesses have had cash flow issues.The negative impact that cash flow can have on small businesses is profound. On average, small business owners in Canada are losing $28,885 by foregoing a project or sales specifically due to issues created by insufficient cash flow.
Our partnership with PayPal is one great example of how we are enabling small businesses in Canada to instantly access funds. PayPal’s new Instant Transfer, powered by Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time push payments platform, gives small businesses more immediate access to their money – providing an experience that offers speed, security and convenience, 24/7/365.
In your expert opinion, what would you say is the most popular product that Visa Canada offers to entrepreneurs?
When Visa Canada implemented contactless payments in Canada, it changed the payments landscape forever. Not only did consumers have a secure, convenient, and fast way to pay, but businesses could reduce waiting times and streamline operations. What began in 2010 has evolved into mobile payments and much more.
More and more entrepreneurs are putting in place measurements to avoid long-term debt to be on the path to financial freedom. How is Visa Canada helping entrepreneurs when it comes to avoiding debt?
For small businesses, the ability to manage cash flow is critical to their success – small business owners are losing money due to cash flow issues [as stated above].
Visa is committed to delivering services, products and programs to help small businesses grow, and manage their cash flow.
Products like Visa Business Reporting allow small businesses access to valuable insights into their spending behaviour and tracks expenses on the go.
Our partnership with PayPal is one great example of how we are enabling small businesses in Canada to instantly access funds, and therefore better manage cash flow. PayPal’s new Instant Transfer, powered by Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time push payments platform, gives small businesses more immediate access to their money – providing an experience that offers speed, security and convenience, 24/7/365.
Electronic payments have significantly improved in recent years. What can you tell us about how electronic payments can benefit small business owners?
Digital transformation is happening now, and it’s happening fast. Consumers are motivated to buy from businesses that offer convenient, quick and easy shopping experiences, like the ability to shop both in-store and online, use digital payments, and keep up with current payment trends. As commerce is going through a transformation, businesses are looking at digital solutions to help improve sales, obtain new customers, and reduce costs.
As Head of Product for Visa Canada, you’re responsible for the development and expansion of digital products. Can you tell us how digitization has impacted Visa Canada?
Customers have more ways than ever to connect with their favourite businesses – online or in-person, via e-commerce and through social media and messaging. Digital experiences are great enablers of growth, and Visa is there to help. Digital is at the heart of all our products and solutions and, quite literally, opening a new world for small businesses.
What would you say is the biggest benefit that digital products have on Canadian SMEs?
The digital opportunity is huge for small business – digital payments are driving the future of commerce.
Today’s consumer has come to expect an on-demand shopping experience that is quick, convenient and secure. Whether browsing in-store or online, customers are using digital technologies to get what they want—and they are often swiping, dipping, or tapping to pay.
Accepting digital payments doesn’t just help merchants deliver what their customers expect, it benefits them in many ways the customer never sees. Put simply, in addition to providing access to cardholders and new technologies, digital payments help merchants – big and small – protect and grow their businesses.
Some benefits of increasing the use of digital payments include:
Bigger basket size:A 2018 ValuePenguin study found that people are willing to spend more—as much as 83 percent in some cases—when paying with a credit card instead of cash.
Faster checkout and increased efficiency: Small businesses can perform up to 15 percent more transactions every hour through the use of digital payments.
Added security: Counterfeit fraud experienced by merchants decreases by 74% with EMV® chip cards.
Quicker payouts:PayPal’s new Instant Transfer, powered by Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time push payments platform, gives small businesses more immediate access to their money – providing an experience that offers speed, security and convenience, 24/7/365.
Visa reaches customers everywhere, and we can help small businesses meet evolving consumer needs through the implementation of innovative payment experiences.
On a personal note, can you tell us about what was the deciding factor that made you join the Visa family?
Visa is the world leader in electronic payments, which is one of the most dynamic industries in the world today, and Canada is one of the industry’s most sophisticated markets. Being able to be at the forefront of payments innovation is fun, exciting, and intellectually stimulating. I couldn’t imagine a better place to be.
IHL Group Study, January 2018
 Canadian Bankers Association (2009). Payment Card Partners Working Group (VISA Canada; MasterCard Canada; American Express Canada). Data for the period ending December 2018.
 Actual fund availability depends on receiving financial institution and region. Visa requires fast-funds enabled issuers to make funds available to their recipient cardholders within a maximum of 30 minutes of approving the transaction. Please refer to your Visa representative and the Visa Direct Original Credit Transaction Global Implementation Guide for more information