Business News - Page 71

CIMB Restructuring exercise sees dismissals in Singapore


Three business heads have been let go

By: Tricia Ang | 31 March 2021

Photo from Financial Times

The ASEAN universal bank is revising its strategy to emphasise sustainable growth, in line with the group’s vision to be a leading focused Asean bank.

 As part of its restructuring exercise, CIMB Singapore plans on laying off staff and will close its Orchard Road branch. This will optimise its functional set-up and leverage its group strengths through regionalization.

“These will make us more resilient, more productive and better positioned for growth going forward,” CIMB Singapore chief executive Victor Lee said in an internal memo seen by The Business Times. 

Re-focus in Singapore

CIMB Singapore will be positioned as an Asean banking hub for the group, focusing on wealth management, SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) banking, regional corporates and treasury and markets. The bank had about 1,200 staff in Singapore. After the restructuring, only its Raffles Place branch will remain.

“Singapore is a core and important market to the CIMB Group, and we will continue to invest in our key growth areas” CIMB Singapore said in a statement.

Following a review of its operations, CIMB let go of three of its business heads in Singapore in November 2020, citing poor performance brought about by the pandemic.

CPA Australia: Singapore’s small businesses more resilient compared to counterparts in Southeast Asia


Research finds Singapore’s small businesses are more optimistic on growth for 2021.

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 30 March 2021

Image by @Ivnatikk on Unsplash

Many Singapore’s small businesses had a tough time last year due to COVID-19. But according to global professional accounting body CPA Australia, local companies were less impacted than their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Small businesses in Singapore were also most likely to report that government support or incentives had a positive influence on their businesses and that they had utilized such measures last year.

These are among the new findings from CPA Australia’s annual survey of small businesses in 11 Asia-Pacific markets, including Singapore.

The survey findings reported that 55% of Singapore’s small businesses said the pandemic had impacted them negatively. However, this figure is lower than for small businesses in Malaysia (67%), Vietnam (81%) and Indonesia (68%).

29% of Singapore’s small businesses said the government’s support measures had a positive influence on their businesses in 2020, while 27% sought out government support as a major response to COVID-19.

“The data suggests that the combination of fiscal, monetary and other measures, mounted by the Singapore government in response to COVID-19, helped small businesses navigate the worst recession that the country has faced in over 50 years and cushioned businesses from the worst of the impact,” said Mr Max Loh, CPA Australia’s Singapore Divisional President.

In 2020, the government funded approximately S$100 billion in stimulus measures to support local enterprises and the economy, while at the same time saving jobs.

More of small businesses in Singapore (53%) are optimistic about their growth prospects in 2021 compared with counterparts in developed markets like Hong Kong (21.2 %), Australia (41.4 %) and New Zealand (44 %).

Singapore’s small businesses are planning to increase their focus on innovation this year. Nearly 19% say they will introduce a new product, process or service that is unique to their market or the world in 2021, compared with 13.4% last year and 13.9% in 2019.

“Innovation is likely to result in business growth especially in an increasingly competitive and disruptive business environment. Small businesses will do well to continuously improve their product offerings, customer service or accessibility in order to thrive,” said Mr Loh.

Amist the pandemic, many small businesses digitalized their operations and worked in new ways in order to make ends meet.

More (84.6%) small businesses in Singapore used social media to promote their business last year, as compared to 71.2% in 2019. Only a quarter of businesses surveyed did not earn any revenue from online sales in 2020, a reduced number from 39% in 2019.

Singapore’s small businesses also quickly adopted new digital payment technologies. More than eight in ten (84.8%) received payment through platforms such as Grabpay, Dash, Pay Lah in 2020, up from 70.6% in 2019.

Profit is helping to drive this focus on technology. Over 38% of small businesses that invested in technology in 2020 reported these investments were already profitable, up from 35.1% in 2019.

There is a growing awareness of cyber risks among Singapore’s small businesses. Nearly four in ten (39.5%) reviewed their cybersecurity defences in the past six months and 36.5% expect the possibility of a cyber-attack on their business this year, up from 29.5% in 2020.

“The focus on technology is one factor that should support the recovery and long-term growth of Singapore’s small businesses. Contributing to this positive trend is Singapore’s excellent technology infrastructure and support for digital adoption given by the government to small businesses. Yet, with greater digitalisation, the risk of cyber-attacks increases. Managing cyber risks will help small businesses protect their operations and customers’ data, and importantly, build trust and reputation,” said Mr Loh.

The annual survey polled 4,227 small businesses in 11 Asia-Pacific markets, with 307 respondents from Singapore.

CPA Australia recommends Singapore small businesses consider the following measures:

  • Consult a trusted professional adviser to improve recovery and growth prospects.
  • Innovate to ensure business remains competitive.
  • Improve internal cashflow management to reduce reliance on external financing.
  • Incorporate technology into business operations.
  • Make cyber-security a focus.

People’s Bank of China and SWIFT join hands

The People’s Bank of China unveiled plans for a joint venture with SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services.

Tricia Ang | 29 March 2021

The PBoC’s joint venture plans to build a localized messaging network for a more stable connection between Chinese financial institutions and the main SWIFT network, according to a statement from the central bank that highlighted issues, particularly from small mainland lenders. 

A data warehouse will also be established to store, monitor and analyze cross-border messaging information for easier risk control.

The joint venture – Finance Gateway Information Services Co. – was established in Beijing earlier this year. In addition to the PBoC, other shareholders include CIPS (Cross-border Interbank Payment System), PCAC (Payment & Clearing Association of China) and CNCC (China National Clearing Centre).

SWIFT Reversal

PBoC’s decision to partner with SWIFT contrasts with a Bank of China International (BOCI) report last year. The report urged against reliance on SWIFT due to political risks in favor of CIPS, which is now a shareholder of the new joint venture.

“A good punch to the enemy will save yourself from hundreds of punches from your enemies” said the report which was co-authored by Guan Tao, BOCI chief economist and former director at State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s (SAFE) international payments department.

Australian Job Board Seek Appoints CFO

Kate Koch is Seek’s new Chief Financial Officer

Tricia Ang | 29 March 2021

Photo from Wikipedia

Australian job board, Seek, announced its appointment of Kate Koch as Chief Financial Officer in mid-march of this year.

Koch replaces predecessor Geoff Roberts, whose step down from Seek, (effective 30 June 2021) was announced in January.

Photo from RMIT University

Koch is currently the CFO of RMIT University, holding the role since 2017. Prior to the role she had vast international experience as a senior finance executive in publishing, retail, and media industries. She was previously Senior Vice President at Pearson PLC, CFO at Pearson Asia Pacific, Group Head of Finance & Performance at Tesco PLC, Senior Vice President at Pearson PLC, and Chief Financial Officer of the Financial Times Group.

Incoming Seek CEO Ian Narev said, “Kate has experience across multiple industries, geographies, and finance roles. She understands how to lead large finance teams in multinational businesses that operate in highly competitive markets.”

“Through this range of roles, she has distinguished herself as a caring and values-driven leader, who builds diverse, high-performing teams. She has been attracted by Seek’s purpose and values, and by its growth potential. We feel very fortunate that she has chosen to join Seek, to lead the committed and talented team that Geoff Roberts has developed.”

Koch will join the Seek Executive Team on 10 June 2021.

OKH Global promotes financial controller to CFO

By: DigitalCFO Newsroom | 29th March 2021

OKH Global, an integrated real estate developer group based in Singapore, has promoted its group financial controller Ng Khay Wee to Chief Financial Officer. Ng has served as the group financial controller for almost 5 years since October 2016.

Ng, 35, has over 10 years experience in finance and is a chartered accountant of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants. The NTU Accountancy alumnus was previously a Group Accountant at SingHaiyi Group (2014-2015) and Senior Auditor at Deloitte (2010-2014).

OKH Global’s shares in SGX remained at 1.9% on 29th March, no change from the closing share price on 26th March last Friday.

Fintech firm Dltledgers bags US$7m Series A funding round

Singapore-based fintech firm Dltledgers completed a Series A funding round with US$7 million.

By: DigitalCFO Newsroom | 26 March 2021

Photo by @austindiesel from Unsplash

Singapore-based fintech firm Dltledgers has completed a Series A funding round, which closed with a total of US$7 million.

The funding round was led by Regis and Savoy Capital, Vittal, Walden International and various other veteran industry leaders, and will be used to support #dltledgers’ geoexpansion and plans to scale the business. The firm’s product and engineering teams will get a sizeable planned investment to build their innovations.

In order to support their growth, the company will also migrate its blockchain-based solutions from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda, which is enterprise software firm R3’s flagship enterprise blockchain platform.

Founder of #dltledgers Samir Neji said: “By migrating our blockchain platform to Corda, the first purpose-built blockchain for enterprise, our current and future clients will benefit from unparalleled security, transparency and performance that come with Corda.”

Dltledgers, headquartered in Singapore, is an independent blockchain platform for trade and supply chain finance digitisation. The firm aims to help banks and corporates authenticate documents, resulting in more cost-effective trade execution and auditable collaboration between enterprises.

David Rutter, founder and chief executive officer of R3, said that they were “ecstatic that one of the world’s fastest-growing trade digitisation platforms is moving to Corda”.

“Dltledgers was one of the first businesses globally to pass the proof-of-concept stage, launching a full production trade solution in 2018. They have also successfully proven how different blockchains can interoperate, and can create transactional efficiency in trade and supply chain finance,” he added.

Enterprise Singapore’s Trade Credit Insurance Scheme to be revised starting 1st April 2021


By: DigitalCFO Asia Newsroom | 25 March 2021

Photo from Canva

Enterprise SG’s Trace Credit Insurance Scheme (TCIS) helps to defray the cost of trade credit insurance by supporting part of the minimum premium payable. Trade Credit Insurance (TCI) is an insurance protection that your company can purchase to protect itself against non-payment by your buyers, allowing you to acquire new customers with greater confidence.

Starting from 1st April 2021, TCIS will be streamlined under the Market Readiness Grant (MRA)  as the Trade Credit Insurance support category.

This means that organisations have until 31st March 2021 to insure their accounts receivables with up to 50% of minimum insurance premium cost supported by TCIS. From 1st April 2021 onwards, TCIS will be changed to protect against buyers’ defaults in overseas market under the MRA grant.

Organisations should leverage on this scheme to protect their businesses against non-payments in these uncertain times. To find out if your organisation is eligible for TCIS and speak to a trade credit insurance provider, please click here.

Southeast Asia’s biggest travel app,Traveloka, plans regional fintech expansion before 2021 listing

Southeast Asia’s largest online travel company, Traveloka, plans to launch financial services in Thailand and Vietnam

Tricia Ang, DigitalCFO Asia | 1 March 2021

Photo by KrAsia

Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s biggest travel app, plans regional fintech expansion before 2021 listing

Southeast Asia’s largest online travel company, Traveloka, plans to launch financial services in Thailand and Vietnam as it eyes a US listing through a blank-cheque company, Traveloka’s president stated.

The company Indonesian-based unicorn company turns 9 this year,and counts Expedia and China’s among its investors. Traveloka is seeing a strong rebound in business after the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed travel demand.

Caesar Indra, the company’s president, told Reuters in an interview that Traveloka’s Vietnam business had surpassed pre COVID-19 activity, is nearly back to normal levels in Thailand, and is at half of pre COVID-19 activity in Indonesia. 

“The worst has happened and now we’re well prepared for 2021. Domestic travel is driving recovery,” he said.

“The plan is to invest in fintech in a big way to allow more consumers to travel in the region,” Indra said, adding that the travel business had bounced back to profiting in late 2020.

Traveloka, which has 40 million active monthly users, is developing “buy now, pay later” services for Thailand and Vietnam markets.

“We recently formed a joint venture with one of the largest banks in Thailand to collaborate in the fintech space,” Indra said. 

Traveloka, has smaller local rivals and is also in the process of talking to potential partners in Vietnam, but Indra declined to name the parties.

Traveloka’s two-year old equivalent service in Indonesia, launched after the firm found out that customers would wait until their paydays to book travel. To date, the company has already facilitated more than 6 million loans.

Last year, Traveloka launched “Paylater” credit cards with some Indonesian lenders. It also offers insurance and wealth management services.

Indra stated the business potential was tremendous in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where only 6% of the population of 270 million has credit cards.

When asked whether Traveloka might buy a bank in Indonesia, like other start-ups, to expand its financial services, Indra said, “all options were on the table”.

Traveloka is also supported by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and Indonesian venture firm East Ventures. It has grown its local lifestyle services in Indonesia, where the company offers restaurant vouchers and  food delivery services, as well as a popular rapid COVID-19 testing.

Indra also said that the company is Indonesia’s largest restaurant review app.

Traveloka has been preparing for an upcoming listing, and is currently holding discussions with special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, for a U.S. listing.

“US markets have become more appealing because there’s more and more appreciation of Southeast Asia as a flourishing region, and by listing in the US we can also provide an opportunity for US investors to become part of Southeast Asia’s growth story,” Indra said.

Many SPACs, exchange-listed shell companies that raise money through IPOs and merge with firms by enticing them with shorter listing timelines, have approached Southeast Asian startups.

Bridgetown Holdings, backed by Asian tycoon Richard Li, Provident Acquisition and Cova Acquisition are contenders for Traveloka, with a potential valuation of up to US$5 billion for the startup, a source said. The firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Indra declined to comment but said an Indonesian listing remained an option.

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