During an interview for FinanceMalta podcast FinTalks, Tech.mt CEO Dana Farrugia urged local retail business owners to embrace and push their online and digital presence.
Ms Farrugia made these comments in light of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on stores, wherein for months on end customers were limited to purchasing goods and services solely through digital channels.
“Retail, as a whole, is broadly about e-commerce and financial transactions – both manually and digitally,” Ms Farrugia started.
“However, with the pandemic we have seen the digital transaction side soaring and the dependency on online buying increasing drastically,” she continued.
These effects were further accentuated when Malta temporarily lost one of its biggest industries – the tourism industry – as a result of closed borders and other precautionary measures.
“COVID here has taught us a huge lesson – that we must ensure a digital presence,” Ms Farrugia highlighted.
“Our businesses must have solid digital presences for borderless trade to survive, because the moment that our physical borders were closed and tourism took a huge hit, we saw the impact on the bottom line of these businesses,” she continued.
To tackle such issues, the Tech.mt CEO recommended the adoption of a retail payments strategy.
This is a strategy introduced by the European Commission that aims to further develop the European payments market so that the EU can fully reap the benefits and opportunities that come with digitisation.
“A retail payments strategy will help move [Maltese] businesses and their business processes towards a digital format because our culture is still engrained towards manual processes,” Ms Farrugia said.
“At Tech.mt we strongly recommend that businesses embrace online sales and start considering technology solutions. This way, businesses can remove the dependency on walk-in buyers and ensure a healthy flow of money through online purchases,” she concluded.
Ms Farrugia has been occupying the role of CEO at Tech.mt since March 2019. Prior to this appointment, she served as Malta Enterprise’s Director as well as Private Secretary for the Economy Ministry.
He takes over from Alejandro Gosttuski, who will now take on the role of an Advisor.
The company, set to launch soon, will seek to provide clients with ‘customer-centric and innovative’ financial services.
The Malta Stock Exchange recently joined other exchanges for the inaugural Ring the Bell for Climate initiative.
Family businesses account for more than 70% of Malta’s SMEs, and are hence vital components of the local economy.