SMEs are blooming in the city-state. Source: Shutterstock

How fintechs are helping Singapore SMEs blossom

Singapore has long made a name for embracing emerging technologies and is now the go-to hub for firms looking to springboard into the APAC region’s various markets.

Entrepreneurs in Singapore, many of whom own small and medium enterprises (SMEs), already have an appreciation of the business value technology brings — 65 percent of SMEs have adopted digital solutions, and 38 percent have said they will continue to digitize more business processes in 2020.

Tech Wire Asia spoke to Pauline Sim, the co-head of The FinLab, a Singapore-based innovation accelerator, to understand how far SMEs in Singapore has come along in digital transformation.

Sim first noted that Singapore’s thriving tech scene is made possible through the support of the government.

This is done by offering incentives that encourage technology adoption amongst SMEs, and also by creating a regulatory environment that attracts fintech companies looking to expand into ASEAN markets. This gives Singapore SMEs easy access to the digital solutions that these firms, locally grown or international, can offer.

When it comes to digitization, increased productivity is the main thing SMEs want: the most sought-after digital solutions were expense management solutions (24 percent), customer relationship management solutions (24 percent), and sales solutions (23 percent).

“We have given a hand, and have witnessed how SMEs can harness the benefits of digital solutions,” said Sim.

“For instance, we have seen a food and beverage SME face challenges in consolidating huge volumes of receipts. By connecting them with a fintech start-up that provides digital solutions for collecting offline transaction data form POS terminals, the SME saved 48 hours a month on administrative purposes.”

According to Sim, one pressing challenge SMEs face is the “vast array of options and the lack of know-how when it comes to choosing the right technology solution.”

One way to do so is by matching SMEs with relevant tech solution providers and industry bodies. This helps identify their business challenges and understand where and how tech can be used to improve business efficiency and competitiveness.

Another way of equipping SMEs is through peer-to-peer collaboration. “Online communities can be used as a platform to provide SMEs with more insights on how to digitalize — they can connect with their peers, industry experts, and various technology providers,” she said.

“Through community, there will be a fluid movement of knowledge — SMEs can learn about new technologies, share experiences with others, and tap into the collective wisdom of the community for ideas on digitizing their business”.

Entrepreneurs can have all the right intentions when it comes to digitizing their businesses. However, these intentions will only remain just that if they do not get the help they need. Singapore, as we can now see, is leading by example.