Small and medium sized enterprises have accelerated their digital transformation through the Covid-19 pandemic. Tan Chor Sen, Head of International, Global Commercial Banking at OCBC Bank, Southeast Asia’s second largest financial group by assets, explores how the Bank is best placed to support SMEs as they seek to transform their business models and operations through digitalisation.

The recent pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. For many small and medium enterprises (SMEs), new revenue streams, new customer segments and markets, new sources for supplies and the accompanying challenges and possibilities have opened up.

Based on our analysis, SMEs that conduct more than 50% of banking activities digitally significantly outperformed their less-digital peers in sales by as much as four times.

As the bank of choice for SMEs in the region, especially in our core markets of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, our commitment is to develop market-leading digital initiatives and solutions to meet the business needs of SMEs, large and small. It is also important to us that we are able to help SMEs unlock and understand the value of their own data to obtain better business outcomes.


Integrated business financial management tools in our digital business banking platforms across the region allow SMEs to easily access a 360-degree view of their sales, expenses and cashflow trends, enabling them to identify patterns and gain insights for better business planning.

Our award-winning digital solutions, like OCBC OneCollect, the OCBC Business app and online banking platform OCBC Velocity, cater to SMEs’ financing and business management needs across different stages of their businesses. They help business owners and entrepreneurs:

Gain access to fast, easy ways to incorporate and start up hassle-free with our digital account opening solutions. Our Online Loan Application in Singapore addresses one of the biggest pain points of SMEs, allowing them to digitally submit information to support their loan application, providing a convenient and frictionless experience.

SMEs can also now get their loan approval status within 5 minutes.

Kickstart and optimise their company’s operations. One example is OCBC OneCollect (SG and Malaysia), a lower cost QR-based merchant solution for real-time collection, notification and transaction management. Payments made through OCBC OneCollect are credited instantly into SME owners’ OCBC Business Account. Integrated with DuitNow QR in Malaysia, OCBC OneCollect also made it possible for SMEs in Malaysia to continue collecting cross-border payments from PayNow users in Singapore even during despite the COVID-19 Movement Control Order.

Expand their current business across the value chain or venture overseas to capture growth opportunities. Our Global Trade Finance business seeks to provide value-added digital solutions to our clients’ complex business needs. Given that trade is the lifeblood of many of our SME customers’ businesses, we are committed to supporting their cross-border ambitions and global expansion strategies. We continue to enhance and develop OCBC Velocity as well as other systems, to deliver the necessary supporting capabilities.

Digitalise across the trade life cycle. This is mission-critical to companies. We use data analytics, artificial intelligence and Robotic Process Automation to anticipate customers’ needs and automate manual, highly repetitive tasks such as anti-money laundering screening and ongoing reporting. We are also digitising and automating the previously paper-bound and labour- intensive trade finance processes to create a more efficient, seamless customer experience.


Our SME customers across the region are increasingly moving their business onto industry ecosystems such as fintech, supply chain platform and other industry consortiums, to access more clients and suppliers. These platforms provide rich data that can be used to track flows and anticipate customers’ needs to create relevant products.

We have therefore entrenched ourselves in digital ecosystems with significant SME presence, such as by forming partnerships with trade platforms with established anchor buyer-supplier network relationships.

With SMEs making up an average 97% of all enterprises and 69% of the national workforce across Southeast Asia, significant revenue increases and productivity gains can be expected from the digital transformation of SMEs.

OCBC Bank has a long-established track record of supporting SMEs in the region to digitalise.

To find out more about what we do for SMEs, visit https://www.ocbc.com/business-banking/awards