To ensure that we meet the domestic and international financial needs of our corporate clients, in 2020 we continued to deepen our people and service capabilities across our network. For example, through our Group Wholesale Banking Academy, more than 1,000 colleagues across our client coverage and product teams have expanded their industry and product knowledge and technical skillsets.
Deepening digital capabilities for greater connectivity
In 2020, we also enhanced our digital banking services, including:
launching UOB Infinity, which offers a comprehensive suite of features to help our corporate clients manage their cash and trade transactions online more effectively;
implementing the API Portal and Sandbox and offering more application programming interface (API) capabilities to enable near real-time banking services for our clients;
expanding the use of SWIFT gpi in our regional markets, including Indonesia and Malaysia, to enable our clients to track incoming telegraphic transfers and outgoing payments more efficiently; and
rolling out UOB VANPlus, a mobile app in Indonesia that enables clients to use the virtual account service for payment collections, reducing the time taken from three days to just one day.
"The UOB team has proven to be a trusted partner along our PhillipCapital digitalisation journey within the region. Leveraging PayNow Corporate in Singapore, as well as the adoption of API credit notification in Singapore and Thailand, we have enhanced our clients’ trading experience, providing them with an additional payment option and facilitating quicker confirmation and execution of their trades. In addition, this solution is a key enabler in strengthening our productivity, through reduced costs and improved processes for our collections and reconciliation... We look forward to continuing this partnership in the years to come."
Mr Luke Lim,
Managing Director, PhillipCapital Group
With a strong regional, diversified franchise and deep sectoral expertise, we achieved
in cross-border income in 2020.
Transforming the digital banking experience through UOB Infinity
UOB Infinity, which was rolled out in Singapore in 2020, enables our corporate clients to manage their banking needs in a simpler, smarter and more personalised manner.
UOB Infinity offers:
biometric login with a soft token on the mobile app, which enables faster access as well as simple and secure transaction authorisation;
a customisable dashboard for our clients to prioritise the information and key functions they prefer;
graphical, real-time displays of the company’s financial information;
access to different UOB accounts across various markets via a single login;
near real-time tracking of payments which helps to improve transparency and certainty especially for payments across borders;
generation of Quick Response (QR) codes so that our clients can request for payment via PayNow Corporate from their buyers easily; and
setting of specific approvers for transaction approvals directly on the mobile app.
UOB Infinity will be rolled out across our regional markets progressively.
of our corporate clients signed up for UOB Infinity within
months of launch.
"I found the dashboard very useful as it provides me with an overview of my balances and transaction status across different accounts. The ability to customise the dashboard also makes it more convenient for me as I can opt to have an overview of my outstanding tasks and thereby act on them promptly."
Ms Vivien Tan
CEO, TeleRadio Engineering Private Limited
Addressing companies’ liquidity needs
Given the operational challenges arising from COVID-19, in 2020 many businesses faced financial difficulties including cash flow pressures. Financial solutions such as value chain financing and trade financing were some of the ways that companies accessed much-needed funding. To support their domestic and regional operating and liquidity requirements, we also offer cash management solutions and financial supply chain management (FSCM) programmes that comprise end-to-end working capital management solutions and comprehensive trade facilities.
In 2020, we saw more than
increase in the number of clients taking up our FSCM programmes and
more suppliers and distributors benefitting from working capital and trade financing, which led to a
year-on-year increase in our FSCM revenue.
Connecting the dots with value chain financing
UOB’s value chain financing solution supports construction firms in obtaining loans by assessing the building project and the various parties that are involved in the project, including the main contractor and project owner. By connecting the value chain, we draw insights from the collaboration and the track records of all the parties to assess holistically each firm’s financing needs and eligibility. We can then provide the sub-contractors and suppliers, including those that previously may have been ineligible for bank loans, with essential financing support.
In 2020, the number of construction firms that secured value chain financing was
more than 2019.
"… we were very grateful when UOB went the extra mile to understand the project, our track record and relationship with the project owner, instead of just focusing on our balance sheet. UOB’s unique approach in offering loans under the value chain financing solution has enabled me to benefit from the Bank’s close relationship with and strong understanding of the project owner, which not only helped in securing the loan but also made the application a hassle-free process."
Mr Sunny Sng
Managing Director, Exclusive Design Construction
Driving efficiency in trade and trade financing
As Singapore continues to strengthen its position as a global trade, supply chain and trade financing hub, its Networked Trade Platform (NTP) is providing businesses a one-stop interface that will enable them to interact with partners, stakeholders and regulators on trade-related transactions. As one of the participating banks, we are helping our clients to tap the NTP for increased productivity and greater competitiveness, and to uncover new business opportunities.
In 2020, under the NTP, we:
adopted the multi-bank Trade Financing Online Application Portal (TFAP), through which our clients can submit their trade finance applications at any time of the day. Our clients can also view and receive real-time status updates on their applications and request for financing digitally;
participated in Singapore Customs’ electronic banker’s guarantee (eBG) programme, in conjunction with the adoption of TFAP, so that with our clients’ consent, we can issue and send digitally an eBG directly to the Singapore Customs. As there is no more need for a paper-based banker’s guarantee, the submission and transit time is reduced to almost zero, greatly improving the efficiency of the process.
"We successfully submitted our first eBG via UOB’s business internet banking service. It was a swift and seamless process, thanks to UOB who guided us in understanding the eBG issuance process and using the e-service every step of the way. From the one week typically needed to lodge a banker’s guarantee with the Singapore Customs, it now takes just two days. The eBG Programme is efficient and its launch is also very timely as we no longer need to handle paper documents amid remote working arrangements."
Mr Tony Ng,
Managing Director, Con-Lash Supplies Pte Ltd
"UOB’s Asia footprint and comprehensive cash management and trade solutions make them an ideal partner for us as we continue to pursue our growth initiatives in the region. By selecting UOB as our banking partner, we benefit from a harmonised banking infrastructure that enables us to achieve a consolidated view and management of our banking services across our key markets. This makes it easier for us to navigate the diverse and sometimes complex operating environments."
Sany Group Treasury
Serving companies’ cross-border RMB needs
Despite the disruptions to business caused by the pandemic, ASEAN and China remained close trade partners. In 2020, ASEAN became China’s largest trading partner, while for 12 consecutive years China has been the economic bloc’s top trading partner. Many Chinese enterprises, including our corporate clients, continued to build their regional procurement, logistics and distribution centres in ASEAN to enable more flexibility and diversification to their supply chains. In managing their cross-border business, our clients are increasingly using Renminbi (RMB) for their trade settlements, financing and loans.
Our cross-border RMB solutions and capabilities include:
customised cross-border RMB cash sweeping and centralised management solutions;
comprehensive suite of cross-border RMB exchange and trade financing solutions;
connecting companies to China’s Cross-Border Interbank Payment System to make cross-border RMB payments to recipients in major ASEAN markets; and
optimising cross-border RMB capital movements within our network so as to address our clients’ needs quickly and effectively.
Riding on China’s ongoing financial sector liberalisation, we were among the first foreign banks to be a member of the Cross-border RMB Trade Finance Trading Platform. This is an online system created by the Shanghai Commercial Paper Exchange to facilitate cross-border RMB trade finance assets transactions among financial institutions more efficiently and transparently. This enables our clients:
to access an efficient source of financing;
to benefit from improved liquidity; and
to increase their cross-border trade transactions.
In 2020, our cross-border RMB settlements increased
year on year.
Supporting funding and investment needs
To meet their financial requirements, in 2020 our corporate clients continued to seek diverse sources of funding. To this end, we provided them with a wide range of loan facilities, comprehensive corporate finance advisory and strong capital markets support.
In 2020, we:
extended Singapore’s first dual tranche loan facility referencing the Singapore Overnight Rate Average (SORA) and the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) to CapitaLand;
led Singapore’s largest REIT IPO, United Hampshire US REIT;
led nine of the 15 largest Singapore dollar bond issuances, representing our extensive coverage of landmark corporate issuers across industries;
led a $165 million senior debt refinancing club deal for 800 Super Holdings Limited and became its core principal banker, providing a wide range of financial solutions; and
advised and financed seven merger and acquisition transactions in Singapore’s public market, including the successful privatisation of Breadtalk Group Limited and Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited.
Beyond Singapore, we:
led jointly a RM250 million medium term notes issuance for Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd;
acted as exclusive merger and acquisition adviser and financier to Thailand’s Stark Corporation PCL’s acquisition of two Vietnamese companies, namely Thinh Phat Cabes JSC and DongViet Non-Ferrous Metal and Plastic JSC. The deal was the largest inbound private sector industrial transaction in Vietnam since 2018;
acted as sole coordinator and led PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia’s US$1 billion syndicated term loan facility, its largest-ever borrowing in the syndicated loans market;
acted as sole coordinator and led Vietnam’s Techcombank’s inaugural US$500 million three-year syndicated loan facility;
acted as joint underwriter and led the A$1.5 billion syndicated financing for Scape’s acquisition of a purpose-built student accommodation portfolio of 18 properties across Australia; and
extended a US$150 million loan facility to Mirae Asset Global Investments to refinance their Fairmont San Francisco Hotel in the US.
In maintaining our focus on supporting our clients’ fundraising needs, in 2020, we were ranked among the top three on Bloomberg’s Singapore Borrower Loans – Bookrunner and Mandated Lead Arranger as well as Singapore Dollar Bonds Manager league tables.
In 2020, we also completed our global implementation roadmap of an end-to-end trading and risk management system for treasury and investment products across multiple asset classes. Currently available in our key ASEAN markets, Greater China, Australia, United Kingdom and US, the system enhances our operational and trading capabilities, as well as boosts our efficiencies in market and credit risk management for the benefit of our clients.
We also announced that we will establish in Singapore an electronic foreign exchange pricing and trading engine, which will act as a hub to serve our clients across ASEAN and our global network. The new engine will:
take advantage of reduced latency via co-location connectivity to improve price discovery;
enhance our pricing capability; and
enable our clients to tap available market liquidity with greater efficiency.
Facilitating SMEs’ next stage of growth
Our experience and local presence give us first-hand understanding of what it takes to build a sustainable business in Asia. We are committed to supporting our clients throughout economic cycles and across generations and to helping them fulfil their growth aspirations.
Recognising that working capital is key to SMEs’ operations and growth, in 2020 we continued to broaden our range of financial solutions to meet their needs. For example, we launched commercial property loan packages referencing the three-month compounded SORA to offer SMEs transparency, certainty and flexibility in their loan repayments.
During the year, we also made financing more accessible to SMEs via our data analytics-powered credit underwriting engine, which determines creditworthiness by applying analytics to new pools of data such as e-commerce sales records. This enables us to process loan applications with greater speed and accuracy, resulting in a faster turnaround for our SME customers.
Our initiatives during the year included:
expanding our UOB BizMerchant programme from Vietnam to Singapore and Thailand. Through our tie-ups with ecosystem partners, Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee and Sendo, we offered more than $10 million in collateral-free loans to close to 900 SMEs; and
launching an API-enabled loan application programme for SME retailers on Qoo10 in Singapore that enables them to apply for financing directly from the e-commerce platform and in turn to seize opportunities as they arise.
"After receiving the capital from UOB BizMerchant, our online sales revenue increased dramatically. The loan has been used to boost inventory storage and to improve order fulfillment with a wide variety of products to our customers. The advantages of this unsecured loan are reasonable interest rates, quick loan application process and professional support from UOB employees. Online sellers should consider applying for the UOB BizMerchant loan for business development and sales growth in the Industry 4.0 era."
Mr Huynh Nhat Nam,
CEO, NK Oil Export Investment Trading
"UOB BizMerchant’s application process is so convenient. It did not take that long to get a loan after applying on Lazada Seller Centre. I also did not need to provide hardcopy documents that are typically required for other credit products. The approved loan limit was what I expected and the funding definitely helped me add more inventory for my mega sales campaign."
Mr Kittiphan Khunupakarn
Owner, K.P. Cartridge Co. Ltd.
Accelerating SMEs’ digital transformation
COVID-19 accelerated the need for businesses to embrace and to speed up their digitalisation in order to stay viable as people stayed home and cities locked down. Companies had to find a way to continue operating by enabling their employees to work remotely from home and to sell their products and services online.
To help our corporate clients, especially SMEs, tap technology for their digital transformation, we worked with our ecosystem partners to roll out a series of initiatives and programmes in 2020. These included:
launching The FinLab Online, a digital learning platform by our innovation accelerator, to help SMEs and start-ups across ASEAN develop digitalisation strategies and adopt solutions to address immediate business challenges in areas such as e-commerce, marketing, human resources, administration and customer relationship management;
equipping SME employees in Singapore with digital skills through workshops and on-the-job training, as well as providing technology implementation support, through the SME Digital Reboot pilot programme. The programme was developed and organised by The FinLab, together with NTUC Learning Hub, NTUC U SME and Ngee Ann Polytechnic;
expanding the SME Leadership Academy’s capacity, in collaboration with Google, to help more SMEs in Singapore’s retail, travel and food and beverage (F&B) industries use digital solutions to manage their business effectively and to prepare for recovery. SMEs also learnt about the financial assistance available for them to tide over the difficult period. More than 1,300 SME business leaders attended the programme during the year;
helping retail SMEs tap digital solutions offered by our partner, Synagie, to sell their products across multiple online e-commerce platforms in ASEAN;
collaborating with F&B digital solutions providers, Getz and StoreHub, to help F&B SMEs in Singapore and Malaysia expand customer reach through online storefronts, increase operational efficiency through digital food ordering systems, complete with digital, contactless payment capabilities, and lower costs of food delivery services;
rolling out UOBxDropee to help retailers and wholesalers in Malaysia, who are using Dropee’s business-to-business e-commerce solution, access our suite of financial solutions such as cash management, trade finance and fee waivers for real-time gross settlement systems on our business internet banking platform, UOB BIBPlus; and
partnering SourceCode, a technology solutions provider in Thailand, to help SMEs in the hospitality and property rental sectors digitalise their facility and billing management. The SMEs can also use QR code payments for their guests and tenants, which will in turn facilitate their collections process.
Driving SMEs’ long-term success
For many SMEs, long-term strategies and succession planning are integral to building and maintaining businesses that last for generations.
To support business leaders and their successors in this regard, in 2020 we:
launched the Enterprise Leadership Transformation Programme with Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Management University (SMU) to help business leaders develop growth plans, such as driving organisational change, boosting talent management, opening new market opportunities and going digital. Eligible companies can qualify for up to 90 per cent of funding of programme fees from Enterprise Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore. We are the only local bank offering the access to the executive learning programme, which was attended by sixty business leaders during the year; and
"It is heartening to note that UOB is working with partners – Enterprise Singapore and SMU – to offer value-adding courses, such as the Enterprise Leadership Transformation Programme that deep-dives into how companies can manage human resources better and improve productivity. Such courses are helpful and informative for enterprises such as Grandeur and provide a good platform for networking as well. I look forward to more of such courses from UOB."
Mr Choong Zhen Mao
Executive Director, Grandeur
led a delegation of next generation business leader clients from Singapore and Thailand to the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, for the second year running. They learned more about the latest technology developments in areas such as virtual reality, medical diagnostic devices and consumer products. The activity was part of The Business Circle, our initiative to prepare the next generation of business leaders to take over their families’ firms. At the summit, our clients explored investment and collaboration opportunities to take their business to the next stage of growth.