Business News - Page 3

UOB & Lazada To Grow Digital Ecosystem In Southeast Asia With Enhanced Financial Services


18 April 2023

Mr Frederick Chin, Head of Group Wholesale Banking and Markets, UOB (left) and Mr James Dong, Chief Executive Officer, Lazada Group (right) at the signing of the MOU between UOB and Lazada.

UOB and Lazada Group have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on retail products and banking solutions for their combined customer base in five key Southeast Asian markets, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. This regional strategic partnership will also see the two industry leaders working together to increase access to financing for e-commerce sellers on the Lazada platform.

This will be Lazada’s first partnership with a bank across a variety of payments and financial services in Southeast Asia, as well as UOB’s first regional collaboration with an e-commerce platform. The partnership will tap on Lazada’s technology and position as a leading Southeast Asian e-commerce platform and UOB’s proven expertise in financial products, best-in-class digital banking services and long-established trust with customers. This will allow both customers and sellers to enjoy better access and enhanced benefits from payment and financial services that best meet their needs.

Mr Frederick Chin, Head of Group Wholesale Banking and Markets, UOB, said, “ASEAN plays a strategic role as an economic powerhouse to the world. As a bank with strong presence in ASEAN, our ambition is to open doors to new business opportunities across the region. Working with an e-commerce partner like Lazada complements our continued effort to bring personalised and innovative solutions to a thriving ASEAN. Through this partnership, consumers and businesses can benefit from seamless financial services that bring about access to rewarding experiences within ASEAN’s dynamic digital landscape.”

Mr James Dong, Lazada Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “Lazada is committed to building an open, accessible ecosystem for Southeast Asia. We are pleased to share this vision with UOB. For consumers, we will offer easy-to-use, convenient and secure payment and financing options to enable their lifestyle needs. For brands and sellers, we are here to help them scale up their businesses and accelerate growth. We are here for the long haul, to achieve sustainable, long-term growth with all our ecosystem partners.”

Enhanced Benefits For Customers

UOB and Lazada customers can look forward to a more rewarding experience when shopping on the e-commerce platform and using lifestyle banking services for their purchases. Singapore customers will be the first to enjoy these benefits. In Singapore, UOB will offer new customers Lazada cashback vouchers worth up to $200 as a welcome gift.

With UOB’s acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses in four ASEAN markets, the Bank will be continuing the partnership of the Citi-Lazada co-brand credit cards in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. In these three markets, the cards will be refreshed as new UOB-Lazada co-brand credit cards later this year with enhanced benefits. UOB and Lazada will look to extend the co-brand credit card partnership to Singapore and Indonesia. Apart from enjoying attractive Lazada rewards all year round, cardholders will gain access to special Lazada deals during mega sale events.

As Lazada expands its localised payments and financial services products throughout the region, the e-commerce platform and UOB also intend to collaborate on cash management and transaction processing services for Lazada sellers across the region.

Improved Financing Services And Access For E-commerce Sellers

The two partners are looking into offering loans to sellers on the Lazada platform through a new digital lending experience. Leveraging Lazada’s seller insights and UOB’s digital banking capabilities with integrated financial supply chain management solutions, the collaboration will focus on giving sellers access to streamlined onboarding, approval and disbursement processes for loans and financing across their businesses. Both parties are working toward a pilot launch this year.

Increased Customer Engagement And Personalisation

UOB and Lazada are committed to offering their combined customer base a seamless and integrated experience tailored to customers’ shopping behaviour on the platform and their individual needs. This partnership will strengthen both parties’ capabilities to deliver personalised rewards to customers across Southeast Asia, to better engage and delight them in their online shopping experience.

Survey Finds Majority Of Singapore SMEs Are Bracing For A Potential Recession


13 April 2023

Rising costs is a pain point for Singapore SMEs; many are looking to optimise operations with technology and fiscal discipline.

Singapore businesses have a cautious economic outlook, as new data from global fintech Airwallex reveals 7 in 10 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here are bracing for a potential recession within the next two years.

The independent research considered the challenges SMEs in Singapore would face amid the current economic uncertainty, how they would get around them, and how fintechs could support their future growth.

SMEs Look To Optimize Operations With Technology & Fiscal Discipline To Manage Rising Costs

Rising costs is among the top 3 pain points for two-thirds of Singapore SMEs. Rising costs from suppliers (35 per cent) accounts for the highest rise in business cost, followed by employee costs (30 per cent) and logistical disruption costs (23 per cent) likely due to the pandemic.

“The challenges identified by SMEs in the survey findings are consistent with what we have been hearing from our customers, with rising costs and ways to manage it being a consistent theme in conversations,” said Low Cher Hao, Director, SME and Growth, Singapore, at Airwallex.

To optimise their operations amid an increasingly uncertain environment, SMEs are taking a prudent approach to their financial spending, with nearly two-thirds looking to reduce business spending and/or optimise operations through technology in the next 6-12 months. Improving efficiency (42 per cent), growing revenue (40 per cent), and market share (33 per cent) were the top three priorities for SMEs surveyed.

“SMEs contribute significantly to Singapore’s economy and the findings emphasises the need for better solutions to manage their top concerns and encourage their growth and success,” Cher Hao added.

Trust In Fintech, Digital Platforms And Willingness To Adopt Are High

While SMEs continue to maintain a high level of confidence in traditional banking providers, the survey found that 93% of businesses in Singapore hold a high level of trust in fintech and digital platforms to support their business activities.  

More than 9 in 10 SMEs have already adopted or are planning to adopt digital or fintech solutions to support their businesses’ financial needs. The clear benefits of going digital include saving time (58 per cent), ease of access (50 per cent) and greater control over transactions (48 per cent). 

SMEs in Singapore Remain Focused On Geographic Growth, Particularly Across Southeast Asia

Amid a challenging economic environment, businesses in Singapore retain a strong appetite for growth and expansion. The survey found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of SMEs plan to expand their business overseas in the next 12 months. Southeast Asia remains a top expansion region, with almost one in two SMEs (43 per cent) looking to expand across the region. The top five favoured markets for expansion include Malaysia, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“Singaporean businesses are entrepreneurial. They are constantly looking for ways to globalise their products and services. We see ourselves playing a critical role in helping them achieve their international ambitions,” said Cher Hao. “Over a thousand SMEs in Singapore trust Airwallex to support the financial needs of their business; we are looking to empower them further, and welcome more like-minded businesses to join us.”

Climate-Related Scenario Analysis and Green Finance Guides to Support Businesses in their Sustainability Journey


13 April 2023

  • The guide on climate-related scenario analysis helps businesses understand the impact of climate-related risks
  • The green and sustainable finance guide provides a roadmap for SMEs to obtain funding for their sustainability projects 

In support of Singapore’s transition to a green economy, a key pillar of Singapore Green Plan 2030, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has issued two publications to guide businesses on their sustainability journey. 

ISCA’s scenario analysis guideprovides direction to businesses in analysing different climate-related scenarios. This is increasingly important for businesses to understand and manage climate risks, make informed decisions, enhance resilience, and identify opportunities to create value in a low-carbon economy.

Green & Sustainable Finance: Guide for SMEs provides a roadmap for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access opportunities in green and sustainable finance. It features examples of local companies which have successfully tapped sustainable finance to future-proof their businesses.

Mr Teo Ser Luck, President of ISCA, said, “These publications are in line with ISCA’s goal to equip finance teams with the knowledge and skillsets to leverage sustainability opportunities. This will help position the accountancy profession as a sustainability champion and key driver of corporate sustainability. The two guides will help businesses with two critical aspects as Singapore transitions to a green economy – how to manage the impact of climate-related risks and how to fund their green initiatives.”

Climate-Related Scenario Analysis Shows Impact of Climate-Related Risks

Climate-related scenario analysis helps companies understand how climate change may impact their business and identify opportunities to make their operations more resilient. This can be a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors, including data availability.

This guide offers a practical approach to help businesses navigate this challenging process and includes suggestions of common climate risks and sources of scenarios.

The guide also features learning experiences and insights from Wilmar International Limited and CapitaLand Investment Limited, two companies which have commenced climate-related scenario analysis as part of their sustainability reporting.

How SMEs Can Access Green and Sustainable Finance?

With more than 90% of businesses in Singapore being SMEs, they are crucial to the nation’s transition to a low-carbon economy. However, many SMEs are not aware of the range of sustainable finance options available to them, or do not fully understand the requirements and benefits of such finance. This can make it difficult for them to access appropriate financing to achieve their green goals.

Green & Sustainable Finance: Guide for SMEs aims to provide a roadmap for businesses, in particular SMEs, to access opportunities in green and sustainable finance and fund their sustainability projects. Featuring case studies of local companies, such as Dyna-Mac Holdings Ltd which tapped on sustainability-linked loans to embark on initiatives to achieve various sustainability targets, the guide outlines the various principles and frameworks of green and sustainable finance, and highlights the relevant government grant schemes.

This guide also explores the role of accountants in leading their companies’ green agenda. With green and sustainable finance gaining prominence, accountants can facilitate the understanding of how such financing can enable a company’s transformation to a sustainable business.

Other publications ISCA has issued on corporate sustainability include Sustainability – Jobs and Skills for the Accountancy ProfessionISCA Climate Disclosure Guide – Taking First Steps Towards Climate-related Disclosures and Addressing Climate-Related Risks in Financial Statements and Audits of such Financial Statements. ISCA also provides several courses and events on corporate sustainability, including on-demand online courses via its ISCAccountify learning platform.

For the ISCA Climate Disclosure Guide Vol 2: First Steps in Conducting Climate-Related Scenario Analysis, click here. For Green & Sustainable Finance: Guide for SMEs, click here.

Brands Investing in Customer Engagement Well-Positioned to Weather Economic Turbulence

4 April 2023

Twilio’s Fourth Annual State of Customer Engagement Report reveals that customer engagement investments increase brands’ resilience by boosting revenue, and improving customer retention and loyalty.

Consumer patience with poor digital experience is waning – 73% of consumers in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) report they will stop using brands that don’t personalise their experiences.

Research from Twilio, the customer engagement platform that drives real-time, personalised experiences for today’s leading brands, shows that investment in customer engagement continues to drive revenue growth and help companies meet their financial goals in the face of economic headwinds. Twilio’s fourth annual State of Customer Engagement Report reveals that amid constrained resources and economic uncertainty, investment in digital customer engagement increased brands’ revenue by 90% on average, up from 70% last year, globally.

The data also illustrates how customer engagement contributes to business resilience – globally, six out of 10 companies report that investment in digital customer engagement improved their ability to meet changing customer needs, and helped increase customer retention, conversion, and long-term loyalty.

Twilio’s State of Customer Engagement Report is based on a survey of more than 4,700 B2C leaders in key sectors across the world, plus a parallel survey of over 6,000 global consumers. It also incorporates data from Twilio’s own customer engagement platform, including Twilio Segment, the leading customer data platform (CDP) for 2021 market share according to IDC[1].The report includes findings from Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

Twilio’s 2023 research explores essential consumer trends around personalisation, data privacy, and trust, which highlight opportunities for brands to directly increase customer lifetime value. For example, the research found that consumer patience in APJ is low — 73% will stop using brands if their experience is not personalised — and brands continue to overestimate how well they are meeting those expectations, with a personalisation experience gap of 27 percentage points between B2C and consumer perceptions.

Key consumer insights in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ)  include:

  • Consumer frustration with inconsistent digital experiences is growing. 53% of consumers in APJ report being frustrated with their interactions over the past year, up from 51% the year before.
  • Precise, real-time personalisation improves customer lifetime value. 91% of consumers in the region say that personalised experiences increase their loyalty to brands. Consumers in APJ also spend 24% more on brands that personalise – higher than the global average of 21%.
  • Consumer trust is lower than brands realise. Consumers in APJ want more control over their customer data, with “identity data” being the top priority. Meanwhile, 44% of consumers in APJ have stopped purchasing from a brand after their expectations for data privacy and transparency weren’t met, exceeding the global average of 41%.

As part of the research, Twilio divided B2C companies into three categories based on their customer engagement maturity: customer engagement leaders, framers, and laggards. The customer engagement leaders — companies that have the most mature use of personalisation, first-party data, and highest level of digital engagement — reported enormous benefits compared to those who have less advanced customer engagement strategies. These include substantially increased revenue growth, customer retention, and customer conversion rates, along with a greater likelihood of meeting the company’s financial goals. Globally:

  • 82% of customer engagement leaders met or exceeded their company’s financial goals for 2022, compared to 62% of customer engagement laggards.
  • 40% of engagement leaders reported much higher customer retention rates than previous years, compared to 12% of laggards.
  • 41% of engagement leaders also reported much higher customer conversion rates than previous years, versus 15% of laggards.

“In this macroeconomic climate, every business is looking to do more with less budget,” said Joyce Kim, chief marketing officer at Twilio. “This research reflects what we’re hearing across our customer base, which is that when brands use first-hand data to personalise engagement with customers, it saves companies meaningful marketing spend and increases lifetime value. For brands facing growing headwinds, this means ROI today.”

Twilio’s State of Consumer Engagement Report 2023 is available as an interactive web report with data available across four regions and 18 countries, and as a comprehensive, downloadable white paper. Both can be found at

Consumers Threaten to Abandon Businesses That Pollute by Hoarding Unnecessary Data


31 March 2023

Nearly half of the consumers said they would stop buying from companies willfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unneeded data they are storing.

Veritas Technologies, the leader in secure multi-cloud data  management, today announced a new research which indicates that more than half (58%)  of consumers in Singapore (49% globally) think it’s the responsibility of the organisations  that store their information online to delete it when it’s no longer needed. They’re also prepared to vote with their feet if businesses don’t cut back on data-related pollution:  nearly half (47% globally and 48% in Singapore) said they would stop buying from a  company if they knew it was willfully causing environmental damage by failing to control  how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing. 

The research, which polled 13,000 consumers from 11 countries around the world, also  found that half of the respondents from Singapore (46% globally) said it concerns them that  2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by data centres. In response, nearly two-thirds (66%) of consumers in Singapore (59% globally) said they would like to see  more focus from organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on  the environment. This could include organisations encouraging their customers to close  unused or inactive accounts and guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer  need or want.  

Andy Ng, Vice President and Managing Director of Asia South and Pacific Region at Veritas  Technologies, said: “To lead the way for Singapore’s decarbonisation journey, business  leaders need to be more conscious about the environmental impact – burgeoning but often  overlooked – of their business operations. Data centres run 24 hours a day and by 2030 are  expected to use as much as 8% of all electricity on the planet. It’s easy to forget that data  centres are mostly fossil fuel-powered and generate about the same amount of CO2 as the  airline industry.” 

The new research also found that half of consumers ((51% globally and 52% in Singapore)  said it concerns them that online data storage wastes energy and produces environmental  pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or  trivial (ROT) and another 35% is “dark” with unknown value, that according to separate  Veritas research in which IT decision makers globally reported the percentages of ROT, dark  and business critical data within their organisations.  

Ng added: “Organisations should not accept ROT or dark data as a logical consequence of  digitalisation. With many consumers feeling passionately about reducing their carbon  footprint, organisations should start using a green lens to assess their data management  practices, even if they are outsourcing their storage to public cloud providers. In fact, the  average organisation is still causing more pollution by storing data they know is not needed  than data they believe to be useful—on average, just 15% of data stored globally is business  critical. With half of customers saying they would stop buying from companies that fail get a 

grip on the challenge, the risk for both businesses and the environment of not identifying  and eliminating unneeded data is too great to ignore any longer.” 

Survey Methodology  

The survey, conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Veritas, polled 13,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK, USA and Japan  between February 1-16, 2023. 

SEA FinTech Has Only A 3.1% Penetration Of AI & ML


31 March 2023

The fastest implementation of AI&ML occurs in the Digital Insurance, Digital Accounting and Digital Banking sectors. Singapore is the most active country in the use of AI in FinTech, according to the research by Robocash Group.

In 2022, the share of FinTech companies in the SEA region officially using AI and ML technologies in their stack reached 3.09% (807 out of 26,105 companies), steadily increasing from 2.88% in 2020 and from 3.03% in 2021.

The Digital Insurance sector holds the highest penetration rate of AI&ML technologies. The number of companies using AI&ML in this sector is growing at an average of 35.6% per year. This is followed by the Digital Accounting (33.5%) and Digital Banking (31.5%) sectors.

Other FinTech industries have seen the following average increase in growth: Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain – 28.7%, Digital investments – 21.4%, E-Commerce – 19.4%, Alternative Lending – 19%, Business management – 18%, HR & Payroll – 17.8%, Cybersecurity – 17.5%, E-Wallets – 17%, Payments & Transfers – 15.4%, Financial Advisors – 14%.

Singapore currently has the highest rate of AI&ML penetration in FinTech, at an impressive 5.36%. The country has seen a high overall economic development (about 0.5% of world GDP). Also its level of digitalization is one of the highest in the region: in 2022, 97% of the population had internet access, 94.4% had smartphones, and 97% had financial accounts. Lastly, there is a high level of private investment in FinTech (1.4% of all time in the world) and in AI technology (0.7%).

Laos also showed a high AI&ML penetration rate in FinTech at 4.08%. The development of FinTech is still in its infancy in Laos, with only 49 companies out of 26,105 in the region. Therefore, even a small penetration of AI & ML in the FinTech sector can be considered significant in this country.

Robocash Group analysts comment: “Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning integration in the Southeast Asian FinTech domain went through its peak period between 2016 and 2019. The FinTech world has attained a “plateau”, though it may not last for long. Businesses are beginning to leverage the potential of AI&ML actively. This can result in an improved output. Nevertheless, AI and ML-based technology are not a one-size-fits-all solution that can guarantee success itself. So businesses must tailor them to their own operations and objectives to reach the greatest possible benefits.”

Smita Harish Kuber replaces P. Sitaram as IDBI Bank CFO


30 March 2023

In a regulatory submission on Tuesday, the bank said that Kuber will replace P. Sitaram, ED and CFO, who will retire on attaining superannuation on 31 March 2023.

Smita Harish Kuber has been appointed as the new chief financial officer (CFO) of IDBI Bank with effect from April 1, 2023. In a regulatory submission on Tuesday, the bank said that Kuber will replace P. Sitaram, ED and CFO, who will retire on attaining superannuation on 31 March 2023.

“The Board of Directors of the Bank has, at its meeting held on March 28, 2023, approved the appointment of Smt. Smita Harish Kuber, Chief Financial officer and Key Managerial Personnel of IDBI Bank with effect from April 01, 2023 in place of Shri P. Sitaram, ED & CFO, who will retire on attaining superannuation on March 31, 2023,” said IDBI Bank in its regulatory filing.

Kuber is a chartered accountant and has more than 25 years of banking experience including five years of experience in handling finance and accounts and taxation matters in IDBI Bank, as per the filing. The bank also informed that Samuel Joseph Jebaraj, Deputy Managing Director, IDBI Bank has resigned from his position. The resignation will come in effect from April 5, 2023.

“Deputy Managing Director (Lending & Project Finance) on the Board of National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID), Shri Samuel Joseph Jebaraj, DMD, has, vide letter dated March 27, 2023, tendered his resignation from the position of Deputy Managing Director of the Bank with effect from close of business on April 05, 2023. Shri Joseph’s resignation was noted by the Board of Directors at its meeting held today and he would be relieved from the service of the Bank with effect from the close of business on April 05, 2023,” said IDBI Bank in its filing.

Earlier this month, the Centre said the disinvestment of IDBI Bank is on track as per the defined process. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said that the government will not defer the $4 billion IDBI Bank divestment plan at any cost.

On Tuesday, a government source told Business Today Television that the Centre hopes to seek financial bids within three months for the proposed stake sale in IDBI Bank.

“The RBI has sought more information, which is part of the process. All papers need to be scrutinised. Security clearance from MHA and fit and proper clearance from the RBI would be necessary for the bidders to move to the second stage of the bidding process – due diligence and the subsequent invitation of financial bids,” an official said.

The Centre is confident of executing the transaction in fiscal 2023–24. “The geopolitical situation has impacted market sentiment and also minority stake sales, but we have to move ahead carefully since the external factors will always exist”, an official shared.

The privatisation of IDBI Bank will be a first-of-its-kind deal for the Indian banking space as the government expects it to set the stage for the sale of two state-run banks. The Centre and LIC together own 94.71 per cent stake in the bank. The government owns 45.48 per cent of IDBI Bank, and is planning to divest a 30.48 per cent stake in the bank.

Whereas, insurance major Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) plans to see a 30.24 per cent of its stake from its holding of 49.24 per cent in the bank. LIC is currently the promoter of IDBI Bank with Management Control and the government is the co-promoter. In 2019, LIC injected Rs 21,624 crore into the bank.

Tata Consumer re-appoint L. Krishnakumar as Group CFO


30 March 2023

The company’s board of directors made the decision on the basis of the recommendation from the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

Tata Consumer on Wednesday re-appoints L. Krishnakumar as the whole-time Director designates as Executive Director and Group CFO for seven months, the company announced through an exchange filing. The company’s board of directors made the decision on the basis of the recommendation from the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

L. Krishnakumar’s current term as an Executive Director & Group CFO will end on March 31, 2023, and thus, he has been re-appointed for seven months, till date of his superannuation.

He began his career with A. F. Ferguson and Co. in India and the Middle East as a management consultant. He later joined Larsen and Toubro Limited, where he served as General Manager, Finance, gaining extensive experience across various functions in industries such as engineering, information technology, and shipping.

In the year 2000, he joined The Indian Hotels Company Limited, a Tata Group company, as Vice President – Finance. Four years later, he was appointed as the Senior Vice President – Finance of Tata Tea Limited (now Tata Consumer Products Limited) in India in 2004. During his tenure at Tata Consumer Products, Mr. L. Krishnakumar held several leadership and strategic roles in the Company’s operations in India and its international business.

In addition to his current role as Executive Director & Group CFO of the Company, he is also a Director on the Board of Infiniti Retail Limited and group companies of Tata Consumer Products (“TCP”) like NourishCo Beverages Limited, Tata Starbucks Private Limited, and several of TCP’s overseas subsidiaries. Mr. L. Krishnakumar has also been a member of finance forums of CII and Bombay Chamber. He holds qualifications in Chartered Accountancy, Cost Accountancy, and Company Secretarial.

Singapore’s ESG fintech STACS Latest Partnership To Bring Greater Transparency To The Carbon Credits Market In Thailand


29 March 2023

The partnership will enhance trust amongst market participants, and contribute to accelerating GHG emission reduction towards the country’s carbon neutrality goal.

Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (‘TGO’), an autonomous governmental organization under the supervision of the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, today announced its partnership with leading environmental, social, and governance (‘ESG’) FinTech Hashstacs Pte Ltd (‘STACS’) to enhance transparency of the carbon credits market in Thailand. The partnership centres around the usage of STACS’s ESGpedia digital registry platform, which powers the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (‘MAS’) Greenprint ESG Registry.

TGO is the official implementing agency on greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emission reduction in Thailand, managing and expediting the development and implementation of GHG reduction projects and climate action. TGO has developed Thailand Voluntary Emission Reduction Program (‘T-VER’), which is a national standard carbon crediting mechanism to promote and support all sectors to voluntarily participate in GHG emission reduction.

As a local issuer of the T-VER carbon credits in Thailand, TGO is involved in the project registration process and seeks to ensure traceability and high-quality carbon credits in compliance with international practices.

Through the partnership, TGO will engage with STACS to explore the potential of utilising ESGpedia to support prevention of double-counting in the project registration process, and promote access to information on data-backed high-quality carbon credits, with end-to-end traceability. By ensuring that the same project is not duplicated nor registered in other registries, as well as having data of T-VER credits presented on ESGpedia, TGO can enhance confidence amongst buyers (i.e. corporates and organizations) who make use of ESGpedia, that its T-VER credits contributes to real climate impact, alleviating fears of greenwashing.

Mr. Kiatchai Maitriwong, Executive Director of TGO, said: “This partnership between TGO and STACS will enhance access to data and information for international investors, promote T-VER projects and credits, as well as open up opportunities for future investment in GHG projects and the trading of T-VER credits, all of which will contribute to the expansion of the carbon business and market in Thailand.”

With Thailand bringing forward its carbon neutrality and net-zero emission target to 2050 and 2065 respectively[1], STACS and TGO will work closely together to exchange ESG data and digital technology with the aim of accelerating the carbon market development in Thailand and ASEAN. This would be critical to support the country’s GHG emission reduction, as quoting Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, the first step in Thailand’s new adjusted timeline for net-zero is to shift the target of reducing GHG emissions from 30% to 40% within 2030.

Sharon Yuen, Chief Commercial Officer at STACS, said: “Integrated with international carbon credit registries, ESGpedia is a global ESG registry aggregating ESG data and certifications that financial institutions and businesses trust and employ in their reporting and sustainability journey. Our expansion of scope in the Thailand market with TGO brings greater transparency to the carbon credits lifecycle, with TGO and market participants being able to easily access project and transaction-level attributes of carbon credits through a common digital registry. This facilitates tracking against sustainability goals and analysis relating to corporate sustainability practices.

Renewable energy and carbon credits play a big role in moving the needle on Thailand’s carbon neutrality goals. STACS is excited to be partnering with Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization to drive the region’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions through better data and digital technology.”

This latest partnership marks further developments in STACS ESGpedia’s Thailand coverage, following the ESG fintech’s live partnership with Thailand state-owned power utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (‘EGAT’) earlier last year[2].

Employers’ Increased Headcount Demand Drives Increase In Salary Expectations Amid Tighter Employment Market In Hong Kong

28 March 2023

Talent retention and attraction are likely to be major concerns for employers in 2023.

  • 74% of respondents expect an increase in salary in 2023
  • 57% of respondents expect a salary increase of at least 20% to change job

Hong Kong is experiencing increased optimism in the business sector in 2023, resulting in higher expected headcount demand from employers that will drive career opportunities and higher salaries, according to KPMG China. In the tight employment market, KPMG China emphasises the need for employers to recruit, reward and retain talent.

Talent retention and attraction are likely to be major concerns for employers in 2023. Expectations for salary increments when changing jobs remain high among respondents to the survey. At the same time, salary reviews are increasingly being used as part of companies’ retention strategy. Remuneration remains the most important motivation for professionals to consider switching jobs, companies also need to take note of the other benefits desired by employees, including flexible working options, housing benefits and share-based awards.

For KPMG China’s 2023 report titled Hong Kong Executive Salary Outlook 2023, 1,327 business executives and professionals were surveyed to measure the employment trends in Hong Kong and across the GBA (Greater Bay Area). Among these, 645 respondents work or have a home base in Chinese Hong Kong and 682 respondents work or have a home base in the Chinese Mainland. The research covered areas including latest headcount expectations, salary and bonus outlook, and other talent trends.

Murray Sarelius, Partner, People Services, KPMG China, says: “The observed increase in headcount and salary expectations reflect the anticipated recovery as Hong Kong emerges from the removal of pandemic-related restrictions and the benefit of government support measures, while employers are looking for growth opportunities. In the tight employment market currently being experienced in Hong Kong, this demand for headcount can be expected to create strong competition for talent. This anticipated competition for talent has been reflected in similarly high expectations of salary increases in those industries that are showing the strongest intentions to increase their headcount.”

In a tight employment market, organisations need to focus on sourcing talent, remaining competitive in remuneration, and having good recruitment support. Talent shortages might be countered by hiring from outside traditional sectors and geographies, although salary and benefit offers need to be competitive with those target industries or locations. Facing budget constraints and limited resources amid Hong Kong’s recovery, companies must identify the types of compensation and benefits that resonate the most with the staff and candidates. In such an environment, the government’s new policies to attract talent will be welcome as companies are looking more broadly for the talent to address business opportunities.

Hong Kong professionals adopted flexible work arrangements during COVID-19 and expect these work practices to continue now that the situation has improved. Close to three-quarters (74%) of survey respondents rated flexible working among their top five most important benefits, yet only 49% of Hong Kong employers offer such benefits. Work flexibility and work life balance moved up to become the third most important motivation to switch jobs, after the salary and compensation package, and career progression and promotion. Flexibility and balance are therefore aspects that would allow an organisation to differentiate itself in the employment market or, if not offered, could contribute to higher employee turnover.

David Siew, Partner, People Services, KPMG China, says “The Chinese Mainland’s new multi-entry visa scheme that will allow highly-skilled talent to travel freely across the GBA, not only indicates that there is broad-based agreement on the long-term career potential of the region, but also creates a wider talent pool across the area. Businesses may consider having a mobility policy in place to encourage skilled personnel to move and work in different cities to engage with a wider group of talent-building economic activity.” 

Hong Kong has reopened, and its employment market is expected to maintain momentum in 2023. More than a third (37%) of all respondents expect staff numbers at the Hong Kong operations of their organisations to increase in 2023, up from 35% in 2022, with the percentage rising to 44% in 2023 from 40% in 2022 for C-level and HR respondents. Economic recovery is still a key theme for Hong Kong, and frontline staff such as sales, fee earners and client relations roles are expected to see the highest headcount increases. 

The survey finds that salary expectations for 2023 will continue their upward trend. 74% of respondents expect an increase in salary in 2023, compared with 66% in the previous year. However, bonus expectations for 2023 have moderated slightly, with 44% of respondents expecting an increase compared with 48% last year.

Michelle Hui, Director, Executive Search and Recruitment, KPMG China, says: “Despite a more challenging economic backdrop, the survey suggests that Hong Kong’s reopening and further relaxations of its anti-epidemic measures will provide a boost to the local economy, and the salary levels of professionals. With the Hong Kong economy having contracted in 2022, respondents appear to be more conservative about their bonus for 2023, which could be because respondents are mindful of a more challenging global economic climate and have adjusted their expectations.”

Thailand’s Economy in Game-Changing Move With New Investment Strategy

24 March 2023

Modern Bangkok offers a wide range of world class yet affordable office buildings and residential accommodation — all served by a well developed infrastructure that makes the city a top pick for international companies and expatriates looking to do business in Southeast Asia.

Riding on some $20 billion in investment pledges announced during 2022 by leading companies such as Foxconn Technology, BYD Co., and Amazon Web Services, Thailand started implementing in January 2023 an even more ambitious five-year investment promotion strategy aimed at wooing more advanced technologies and upstream industries to bring about a new era of economic development, says a feature article published by the country’s Board of Investment (BOI).

The article, which is citing officials and other stakeholders, describes how, under the new strategy, Thailand is offering much-improved incentives. These include up to 13 years corporate income tax exemption without a cap for investments in upstream industries and advanced technology, such as wafer fabrication, biotech, nanotech, and advanced materials, entailing innovation, and technology transfer through research cooperation with Thai entities.

The strategy aims to ensure Thailand remains innovative, competitive, inclusive, and becomes the showplace for digital innovation in Southeast Asia and a hub for business, trade and logistics, the articles says. To support that goal, the BOI offers special privileges to key long-term investors, to those establishing regional headquarters and R&D operations, and to small and medium-sized enterprises and new economy startups in sectors such as fast-growing digital media. For certain categories, investors and their top foreign talent will have the opportunity to apply for 10-year Long-Term Resident visas.

“We will use the BOI and investment as a tool to drive Thailand to the new economy,” the article quotes BOI Secretary General Narit Therdsteerasukdi as saying in an interview.

In 2022, the new investment applications came from companies as diverse as Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing division of U.S. tech giant Inc, which has pledged to invest $5 billion over several years; BYD Co., China’s largest electric car maker which has committed to spending $660 million to build its first manufacturing operations in ASEAN; and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology, branching into EVs via a more than $1 billion joint venture with Thai energy giant PTT.

While Thailand remains a major manufacturer of conventional vehicles, the EV investments by BYD and Foxconn, as well as earlier EV investments by Chinese rivals Great Wall Motor and SAIC Motor, and by Germany’s Mercedes-Benz, which chose Thailand as the first location in the region to build its fully-electric Mercedes-EQS model, mean that Thailand is fast becoming a regional EV hub, the article says.

Adding to the positive investment mood, Mr Akio Toyoda, head of Toyota Motor Corp., one of the country’s largest foreign investors, chose the celebration in Bangkok in December 2022, of the 60th anniversary of the company’s Thai unit, to unveil the first battery electric (BEV) version of its best-selling Hilux truck and announce a partnership with Bangkok-based CP Group to turn agricultural biomass into fuel for hydrogen-powered vehicles. He also described Thailand, which is today home to the company’s Asia headquarters, overseeing engineering and manufacturing in 20 countries and serving as a research and development hub, as his second home.

The article identifies five priority sectors at the core of the strategy, including the critical Bio-Circular Green (BCG), a burgeoning sector of green, smart, renewable-focused foreign and home-grown industries. The other four are the electric vehicle supply chain, smart electronics manufacturing, the digital sector and the creative industries.

Among the foreign companies BOI Secretary General Narit would like to snare are those facing mounting pressures at home from stakeholders to conform to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns. “As the world focuses on ESG, investors need clean energy and we can provide it,” he says in the article. “Thailand has the answer.”

Investors interviewed for the article agree. “It’s a roadmap that is recognizing change, designed to reshape the investment landscape and it is important to bring in the industries they are focused on,” Vibeke Lyssand Leirvåg, Chairwoman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, which represents 9,000 foreign companies doing business in the kingdom, is quoted as saying about the strategy. “The BCG is attractive to many foreign investors and is giving the strategy a focus.”

The article also describes how the leading source countries of investments into Thailand span geopolitical divisions, as the country is seen as neutral and resilient to crisis. While Chinese companies ranked number one in 2022, accounting for more than $2.3 billion pledged, Japanese investors retained first place measured by the number of projects approved and remain the biggest accumulated source of foreign direct investment. Measured by investment size, U.S. companies came in third followed by Taiwan and Singapore.

Investors highlighted Thailand’s advantages over rival destinations. They include the kingdom’s geographical location at the heart of Southeast Asia’s 685 million-strong consumer market, its “liveability” and “stability” as seen in the predictability of its business environment irrespective of the political climate of the day, and its efficient handling of the Covid crisis which allowed business operations to continue uninterrupted. “Quality of life and quality of business life are good in Thailand,” Ms Leirvåg said.

The series of roadshows conducted by the BOI in key FDI source countries is being warmly received, the article added, citing the example of Japan, where many firms see opportunities to invest in Thailand in BCG-related technologies such as hydrogen cell fuel development, while others are interested in automation and robotics and the privileges available to companies moving headquarters functions.

“According to our latest survey, many Japanese companies have confirmed that they will expand their operations in Thailand,” Kuroda Jun, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)’s Chief Representative for ASEAN, was quoted as saying.

Thailand is already the world’s second biggest exporter of computer hard disk drives, the 10th biggest auto manufacturer and one of the planet’s leading food suppliers. These existing industrial clusters, robust supply chains and good infrastructure including ports, roads and power supplies are among its key attractions for Japanese investors, according to the JETRO survey.

Investors acknowledge that they also encounter challenges in Thailand. The nation of 70 million faces headwinds ranging from traffic congestion to an aging population to an education and training system that sometime struggles to keep pace with the country’s transformation into a knowledge economy. “Although we have relatively strong human resources, the challenge now is to raise Thailand’s manpower to a higher level,” says Dr Somkiat Tangkitvanich, President of the Thailand Development Research Institute, an independent private not-for-profit think tank.

Dr Somkiat, who also serves as an advisor to the BOI board, sees the new investment strategy as being instrumental in addressing such challenges. He points to the BOI’s increasing flexibility towards different types of companies, saying additional incentives to long-established investors would encourage them to raise their game. “They have to be dynamic, move up the value-added ladder,” Dr Somkiat said. “The country has to move forward and investors have to move forward as well.”

Stay Ahead of Attackers, Maintain Good Cyber Hygiene: How To Strengthen Cybersecurity In Financial Services


23 March 2023

Experts from Akamai Technologies and Security Bank Philippines discussed the latest trends and threats in the financial services sector today.

Cyber attacks in the financial services sector are getting more sophisticated by the day, amidst the rising number of customers who are adopting the usage of digital banking platforms. Financial services institutions will continue to drive forward their agenda of digitalization but they also continue to be the biggest targets of cyber attacks like phishing, fraud and attacks targeting APIs.

In line with the cybersecurity concerns they face, it can go a long way for companies to discuss best practices that can help address these cyber threats.

Asian Banking and Finance, during its March 9 webinar “Cyber Leaders Dialogue for Financial Services” with Akamai Technologies, tackled how the financial services industry has become a primary target of cyber threats. The webinar featured Akamai’s Security Technology & Strategy Director Reuben Koh and Security Bank Philippines’ Chief Information Security Officer Albert Dela Cruz.

During the event, Akamai’s Koh shared findings from the company’s latest research on cyber trends and the major types of attacks impacting the financial services sector. Amongst its key takeaways, the Akamai research shows that investments in digital technologies have risen across the region and are now central to financial services. This is whilst customer expectations when transacting with such services also continue to increase. In addition to this, financial institutions continue to grapple with challenges around regulatory compliance, protecting customer privacy, and keeping data secure.

Security Bank’s Dela Cruz emphasised the importance of these kinds of research in creating more protected financial institutions, as such studies provide guidance to assess the best technology and security systems to implement as well as optimise a firm’s spending. He also stressed that telecommunications companies and governments have to be involved in measures that prevent cyber threats.

Today, financial institutions are primarily concerned with the following threats: ransomware, phishing, and attacks targeting web applications and APIs. In fact, finance has become a “benchmark” for cyber attackers because “if it works in finance, it’s going to work everywhere else,” Koh explained.

Expanding Visibility To Cybersecurity Threats

Given the prevalence of cyber attacks, financial services organizations need to constantly stay on top of all the evolving trends in cybersecurity to always be prepared if such instances arise. Koh noted that there are several ways to do this, including working with capable and specialized security providers who can offer actionable insights. “[They must give] data that you can consume and basically use to defend yourself better,” said Koh.

Koh also recommended attending briefings by local agencies and computer emergency response teams, as well as joining industry groups that focus on sharing and collaborating on track findings.

Security Bank’s Dela Cruz pointed out that the C-suite has fortunately been looking to be more involved in understanding cybersecurity threats, noting that they have been showing their support through logistics and budget for protecting their organisations against these kinds of attacks.

Dela Cruz and Koh were also asked about how to balance a financial institution’s security with clients’ convenience.

Though Koh and Dela Cruz admitted that there is no specific way to address friction in a customer’s journey, they emphasised that balancing security and convenience depends on a company’s own assessment of acceptable risks and the possible return on investment. “I think it also boils down to your level of risk appetite,” Koh added.

Ensuring Security Through Sound Cyber Hygiene

Amidst these various cyber threats, Koh highlighted that financial institutions—and even other organisations–have to make sure they have sound baseline cyber hygiene that helps maintain system health and improve online security.

“Sometimes we tend to look at these fancy new systems, fancy devices, or paradigms, but we fail to look at the basic cybersecurity hygiene. Do we have them in place right now? Because basic cybersecurity hygiene will constitute about 70 to 80% of protection,” Dela Cruz advised firms.

Additionally, companies must also look into areas that require more specialised focus or protection, which cannot be done with simple traditional firewalls and IPS.

Koh then laid out five key recommendations for financial institutions to improve their cybersecurity. First of all, organisations have to constantly update their incident response plans, especially since firms’ vulnerabilities can be exploited in less than 24 hours. Dela Cruz agreed with this and said that there must also be strategies in place to increase awareness of cyber threats.

Next, it is essential to understand the industry’s ever-expanding attack surface amidst continuous digitalisation. Koh’s third recommendation is the continuous review of risk models in terms of fraud management, customer-based threats, and account takeovers, amongst others. Fourthly, firms should also consider updating their phishing defences as more sophisticated techniques arise. Lastly, companies have to be prepared to adapt their risk and security strategies whilst the landscape of cyber threats continues to evolve. This can be done through various means, such as attending security advisories or connecting with peers in the industry.

As financial services institutions continue to push for digitization, it is essential for them to stay ahead of their attackers and anticipate anything that could pose a danger to their security. However, the best cybersecurity practices come with good cyber hygiene aided by advanced technologies and strategies. At the end of the day, companies must carefully consider the risks they are willing to take without sacrificing security and convenience.

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