New app designed to help SMEs with digital transformation

An all-in-one digital banking app designed specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises has been launched by United Overseas Bank Malaysia (UOB).

The UOB SME app is the first to provide a suite of solutions that addresses financing and other business needs, both on desktops and mobile devices, the bank said.

UOB said: “Through the platform, SMEs will be able to view their cashflow figures, perform banking transactions, apply for loans, set personalised foreign currency watchlists with instant alerts, access customised insights, as well as find events relevant to their industries.

“Based on the customers’ cash-flow data, the platform will also generate curated solutions such as loan financing options and tips on how SMEs can improve their business or make strategic business decisions more efficiently based on their banking patterns.”

The bank said that the app’s features were based on the findings of the ‘ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2022’, which was carried out by UOB, Accenture and Dun & Bradstreet. The study found that 63% of SMEs surveyed plan to continue to embrace digital in order to better access the digital economy.

The research found that more than half of respondents expect to spend more on digital marketing, social media, network management, and digital sales and servicing. UOB said that SMEs using the app would be able access accounting and invoicing services, human resources and e-commerce, as well as banking services.

Ng Wei Wei, UOB Malaysia’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “UOB Malaysia has been growing alongside the Malaysian SME community for over 70 years, and we look forward to supporting them in their next phase of growth through digital transformation, sustainable business practices as well as cross border expansion by connecting them to growth opportunities within ASEAN.

“Leveraging customer insights, we are proud to launch the UOB SME app which is designed to enhance the digital banking experience for our SME customers by combining banking solutions, analytics, and business insights into a single platform. It provides SMEs with a real-time view and the convenience of managing their financials on-the-go. SMEs can now stay on top of their businesses and have better financial control, while driving their growth strategies.”

The ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2022 also found that local businesses have increased investments, with 73% of SMEs surveyed interested in expanding overseas and tap into new opportunities across the region. Researchers surveyed 1,500 SMEs from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Andy Cheah, Managing Director and Country Head of Wholesale Banking, UOB Malaysia, said: “Noting Malaysian SMEs’ appetite for regional expansion, we have developed a foreign exchange feature in the app to support their cross-border ambitions. The personalised currency watchlist and the alerts are useful tool to help SMEs manage their foreign currency risks, especially given the volatile currency environment.”

 

Upbeat about the future

The ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2022 also found that more than half of the region’s SMEs remain upbeat about their economic prospects. A further 45% of firms feel the need to transform their business models to better respond to shifting circumstances and priorities.

Kimberly Chew, Senior Manager – Technology Strategy at Accenture, said: “From their responses, it’s clear that SMEs are prioritising investments in digitalisation, technology, sustainability and talent as prime opportunities for growth. They’re also sending clear signals about the need for stronger support from their partners: banks, governments, and tech providers.”

She added that sustainability has also emerged as “a megatrend among ASEAN SMEs”. She said: “65% of enterprises confirm that sustainability is currently an area of importance and concern for their business [including] improving energy, water and resource efficiency.

“However, while enterprises across the region are paying more attention to sustainability, a significant proportion of SMEs (35%) remain in experimentation mode, where they introduce only limited changes across their business. That could be because SMEs face particularly steep barriers to realizing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

“Indeed, 60% of SMEs cite high initial costs, around investment in new talent, training, research and technology, as the biggest challenge in adopting sustainable practices. Other obstacles include a lack of dedicated resources and time (51%), plus a lack of expertise and know-how (48%).”

  • For more information about UOB SME go to uob.com.my/uobsme. The full report on the ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2022 can be downloaded at uob.my/aseansme.