The FinLab launches online platform to help more SMEs across ASEAN transform their business digitally
The FinLab, United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) innovation accelerator, has launched The FinLab Online, a digital platform to help small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups across ASEAN implement digital solutions to transform their businesses.
Since its launch in 2015, The FinLab has received interest from more than 2,000 businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand who want to embark on or further their digitalisation journey. In bringing its innovation programmes online, The FinLab is creating the opportunity for more ASEAN business owners and entrepreneurs to access The FinLab’s tried and tested business transformation programmes.
SMEs will be able to tap the expertise of industry mentors through video tutorials and webinars, as well as sign up for The FinLab Online Programme to conduct a free self-assessment of their technology needs based on The FinLab’s proprietary business analysis tools. They will then be guided on digitalisation strategies and solutions to address immediate business challenges and be matched with relevant technology solution providers.
For example, The FinLab Online’s community network will enable SMEs and start-ups to tap relevant digital solutions specific to their business and operational needs such as e-commerce, marketing, human resources, administration and customer relationship management. Members will also be able to learn from and leverage additional resources provided by The FinLab Online’s ecosystem of partners such as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Ms Pauline Sim, Co-Head, The FinLab, said: “Digital adoption is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there is a clear demand for tailored, actionable support for SMEs and start-ups to take charge of their business growth journey. In just April and May alone, more than 440 SMEs and start-ups from various industries across the region registered to be part of The FinLab Online as they looked to tap digital solutions to transform and grow their businesses.
“The FinLab Online leverages UOB’s extensive network and close to 85 years of experience operating in ASEAN to provide The FinLab Online’s community with the necessary expertise, knowledge and connections. We will also share insights from UOB’s own experience in growing a successful regional business with our community members to help them navigate their own expansion in ASEAN in an increasingly digital world,” Ms Sim said.
K S Ho, Head of Operations at Acepac International, one of the companies who has benefited from The FinLab Online sessions, said: “Through the Mentoring Leaders: Opportunities Unusual series, we gained valuable tips and advice on tools and strategies to view COVID-19 as an opportunity rather than a threat. We are beginning to explore ways to scale our e-commerce capabilities and look forward to the upcoming training workshops that will help SMEs optimise their platforms and boost audience engagement.”
Membership to The FinLab Online community is free and registration is open to all SMEs and start-ups in ASEAN.
Founded in 2015, The FinLab is an innovation accelerator powered by United Overseas Bank (UOB) and SGInnovate for fintechs and start-ups to develop fit-for-market solutions. In 2018, it expanded its scope to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to transform their businesses. In 2019, to support the needs of SMEs in the region and to serve UOB’s large SME customer base, The FinLab expanded to other ASEAN markets.
The FinLab is currently present in three countries – Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand – to help businesses scale across ASEAN by connecting them to industry experts, mentors and facilitating the right technology solutions to power their growth, maximise their efficiency and enable long-term success.
In 2020, The FinLab Online was launched to enable more businesses to tap on the knowledge, tools and resources from The FinLab’s regional network established over the years.
Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said, “The FinLab Online platform is very useful in these times because it will help small enterprises to implement digital solutions to transform their businesses. Technology is fast disrupting the financial sector and AI adoption is quickening in pace. The Covid-19 crisis will only accelerate the disruption and adoption. In such a climate ‘fair metrics’ is especially useful to promote responsible AI adoption.”
He added, “as most financial institution services have moved online, we too have started meeting our clients remotely. In this extended Circuit Breaker period, people are still buying and selling properties, and they can get the best home loans only when they work with trusted mortgage brokers.”
In April this year, MAS launched a $125 million package for financial institutions and FinTech firms to strengthen long-term capabilities. The support package will help to position financial institutions (FIs) and FinTech firms for stronger growth when the threat of COVID-19 recedes.
The support package, funded by the Financial Sector Development Fund (FDSF), has three main components:
- supporting workforce training and manpower costs;
- strengthening digitalisation and operational resilience; and
- enhancing FinTech firms’ access to digital platforms and tools.
The FSDF was established in 1999 under the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act for the following purposes:
- a) to promote Singapore as a financial centre;
- to develop and upgrade skills and expertise required by the financial services sector;
- to develop and support educational and research institutions, research and development programmes and projects relating to the financial services sector; and
- to develop infrastructure to support the financial services sector in Singapore.
The support package for FinTech firms and financial institutions took effect from April 8.
MAS will also launch a new Training Allowance Grant (TAG) to encourage FIs and FinTech firms to make use of the downtime in business activity, to train and deepen the capabilities of their employees. The TAG will also be available to support Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs) outside of the financial services and FinTech sectors.