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Digitisation grants and benefits SMEs in Asia can take advantage of

June 25, 2020

I’m pleased to see governments in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia stepping up to launch more dedicated SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) digitisation grants to back digitisation of small businesses. These grants support those impacted by COVID-19 to diversify their business models. In most cases, this means moving into the cloud.
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In response to this, I’m excited to share that we have extended our partnership with DBS Bank, one of the Singapore Government’s Start Digital Partners, to encourage more SMEs to adopt cloud-based accounting and software services in Singapore through their Start Digital Pack. We launched a similar partnership with OCBC under their Start Digital Initiative last year.

COVID-19 has underscored the importance of cloud-based offerings over legacy desktop. If you are thinking the same for your business, here are digitalisation grants you may be able to take advantage of:

  • Singapore: Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, announced the SGD 33 billion ‘Fortitude’ Budget on May 26. The budget encourages businesses to adopt e-invoicing, e-payments and business process or e-commerce solutions.
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) launched the D-Biz programme to fast-track SME adoption of 12 categories of IT solutions as business activities are interrupted due to the pandemic. Each eligible applicant may receive up to HKD 300,000 to undertake projects, which have to be completed within six months.
  • Malaysia: RM 300 million has been allocated by the Government to incentivise SMEs in automating processes and digitalise operations to improve productivity and efficiency. Eligible SMEs can apply for the Automation and Digitalisation Facility (ADF) from Bank Negara Malaysia to obtain financing of up to RM 3 million, over a tenure of up to 10 years with financing rate 4.00% p.a.

These grants go beyond keeping your business afloat by offsetting the additional operation costs and up-skilling hours for your staff. The consumer preference to shop online is likely to stick post-COVID. Research has shown the pandemic has changed the way people are living and buying. Digital channels will become the primary customer-engagement model and automated processes will become the norm. The key now is to ensure you have sufficient channels to capture customer traffic and revenue.

Now is the time to start utilising government support to instil a digital business model. If you are considering Xero, give some thought to whether you are able to apply for government grants to cover a portion of the costs. You can check out this guide where we’ve collated information on SME Government grant assistance available in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

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