Business Times Singapore, Wednesday, 22 August 2018
DBS on Tuesday announced that it will be developing a business-to-business (B2B) platform to give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to a new marketplace to sell their goods and services to large corporate and multinational companies (MNCs).
The platform will also grant these SMEs access to supply-chain connections, as well as financing and payment solutions that are usually open only to large corporates or MNCs.
The development of the portal will be supported by Mediacorp, Mastercard and Singtel, which are partners in 99%SME, a nation-wide drive aimed at helping SMEs expand their business by digitalising their operations to keep them abreast of the technological shifts in the local and global economy. In the last three years, 99%SME has helped more than 7,000 SMEs to go digital by listing their products and services online.
DBS' B2B platform is expected to be launched by the end of this year.
Joyce Tee, DBS' group head of SME banking, said: "This is the industry's first B2B portal that brings together large corporates, MNCs and SMEs. It will be a step forward in fostering a spirit of innovation and collaboration, so that together, we can conquer new markets and fly the Singapore flag very, very high."
Next month, DBS and Singtel will also enhance the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-marketplace on the 99%SME portal.
For now, listings there take consumers to Lazada's website to complete their purchases; after the enhancement, consumers will be able to buy products ranging from cakes and beauty products to furniture directly off the 99%SME portal.
SMEs which are unsure of how to tap into online sales channels will thus gain instant access to an online "shopfront", where consumers can browse and buy goods and services across different categories at the click of a button.
This will help SMEs raise their profile and grow beyond Singapore's shores, thus expanding their customer base regionally and globally.
Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who was at the DBS event, urged large local enterprises to support local SMEs in their efforts to go regional - and even global.
He likened these large local enterprises to "queen bees" that lead the way for the smaller firms to compete on the world stage.
He added that the e-commerce platform is a very good way for SMEs to transcend their limitations of scale and resources to gain access to overseas markets.
To bolster his point, he shared testimonies from SMEs which have fared very well in their online sales, for example, on Singles' Day (Nov 11), a popular shopping day in China, when they pull in the equivalent of a quarter's worth of sales in Singapore.
The minister said: "Let us all embrace the digital economy together. We all can not only individually benefit as an SME or individual company, but more importantly, (work) together in Singapore, to have that network effect and that synergy. With that, we can compete on the basis of an entire Team Singapore."
A recent survey of 200 DBS SME customers in the first week of August found that seven in 10 SMEs acknowledged that while e-commerce channels and solutions would drive growth in their business, three in five admitted that they did not have sufficient knowledge about digital sales channels and the resources and manpower required to invest in digitalising their business.
Bill Chang, CEO of group enterprise at Singtel, recounted that the telco itself has had "a front row seat to the digital tsunami", in that its traditional revenue from voice calls and SMS took a hit from the mobile Internet revolution; Singtel was forced to make massive and rapid gear shifts to put data and digital at the centre of its business six years ago.
He believes this makes it well placed to help SMEs that are embarking on a digital transformation of their own. "Going digital isn't something to be feared," he said, as he called on large businesses in Singapore to join hands with DBS and Singtel to give SMEs a leg up in their digital transformation journey.