Visa Aims to Turn Creators into Small Businesses with Digital Payments

In times past, a creator might’ve been a musician busking for tips on a street corner. Social media thrust those musicians — and artists, poets, podcasters, makeup artists and more — into the mass media limelight where they’re finding audiences but struggling to get paid.

When an artist or podcaster is good enough to get people reaching for their wallets, there are many platforms now acting as payments intermediaries, but Visa’s entrance into the creator economy payments game with the Visa Ready Creator Commerce program announced Oct. 13 takes the idea of monetizing the creator economy to a new and more advanced level.

Discussing benefits of the program, Visa Head of Innovation and Digital Partnerships Vanessa Colella told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster that it’s part of a broader realization that creators are small businesses — “the sole proprietorships of this generation” as she called them — and they need digital payments tools designed for the money flows of their nontraditional businesses.

Colella said “Our view is at Visa that we have a commitment to digitally enable small and medium-sized businesses. Like I said, many of these are sole proprietorships, and whether you’re giving makeup tips or you’re an aspiring musician, it’s all fine for us. What we want to do is make sure that with Visa, these creators can pay, and importantly, get paid.”

Visa research into the creator economy revealed a vibrant ecosystem of “50 million artists, musicians and creators publishing content as a full- or part-time source of income. Social commerce, which includes creator-driven work, is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025.”

Saying that a third of creators in the U.S. make roughly $60,000 a year — “pretty close to the national median income” — with more than two million creators globally making six-figure incomes from their work, she said, “most of the research suggests that in the next couple of years, we’ll be well over $1 trillion in projected sales just across the social networks.”

See also: Visa Targets Creator Payouts with Visa Ready Creator Commerce Program

Solving for Speed

By creating payment tools engineered to accept everything from social media micropayments to royalties, for example, creators are perhaps the newest shape the SMB has assumed, and Visa Ready Creator Commerce wants to be a unifying force in that movement.

Solving for speed is one way of having a meaningful impact, and Colella told Webster that “For the creator economy, a lot of it is so virally driven that getting paid as soon as possible, be it tips or micro transactions, getting that access to those funds as soon as possible, when you see that your latest song or your latest post is getting attention, enables creators to then promote those things and really capitalize on the momentum.”

As part of the launch of Visa is working with a company called SamCart, which she called “an eCommerce platform that’s focused on creators. If you’re using that, with that you get access to something called Visa Direct. It means you could get paid within like 30 minutes. So, that momentum building is something that you can really take advantage of.”

“We think that getting more creators the kinds of financial tools to pay and be paid rapidly will help them build their businesses, which is part of why we’re so excited about this space.”

She described Visa Ready Creator Commerce as “a way to curate sets of tools and technology for creators, but it’s not like an individual person would come to Visa. We make it easier for those partners to use things like Visa tokens and other solutions. That’s really important because we’ve talked a lot about payments and micro payments, but making sure that this stuff is secure is important.”

Enabling an Ecosystem

Harking back to Visa’s 2020 commitment to digitally enable 50 million SMBs, Colella said embedded payments play an important role in making that happen for SMBs more broadly.

She told Webster, “when I think about that, where my head goes is … if we can embed payments for them, just like we’ve been talking about with creators, then those businesses that might be not be the big part of the supply chain, the smaller businesses, are able to get funds access more easily, more securely.”

There’s plenty of demand for small business monetization and cash flow solutions, but Visa’s involvement moves these efforts to a higher orbit with the similar efficiency and speed enjoyed by large established businesses, which in turn expands the economy overall.

Colella said, “one of the things that’s exciting about the sector, as you know, is that it’s not just about enabling individuals or businesses. We also think a lot about enabling communities, and in doing that right, making sure that you’re bringing people, you’re bringing businesses into a safe and secure kind of functioning money movement system.”

In addition to SamCart, Visa is partnering with several other solution providers as part of the effort, including companies like Linktree, Marqeta, and Rutter, with the mission of not only monetizing content and getting those payments made but doing so at a time of economic uncertainty.

She said “In times of uncertainty, that psychological burden is often tied to financial uncertainty. If we can help in any way that we can to alleviate that, I think it’s really important.”