The Singaporean Government has assigned more than SGD 500 million (USD 360 million) to support businesses as they digitalize amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This sum is part of the government’s fourth package, dubbed the Fortitude Budget, of SGD 33 billion (USD 24 billion) to help Singaporeans and businesses during the challenging times.
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Heng Swee Keat highlighted in his speech that businesses that are not digitally connected have been hit hard during the country’s lockdown. The government had already been supporting the adoption of digital technology by corporates through a variety of programs and grants. This additional money will augment that existing support along three prongs:
- The rate of adoption e-payments among businesses has been increasing dramatically due to COVID-19, with as much as 50,000 more businesses adopting PayNow Corporate, a payment solutions launched by The Association of Banks in Singapore since April 2020. PayNow Corporate enables entities to pay and receive Singapore Dollar funds instantaneously by linking their Unique Entity Number (UEN) issued in Singapore to their Singapore bank account. They do not need to know the bank and account number of other entities when transferring funds. Now the government will provide a bonus of SGD 300 (USD 215) per month over five months to encourage more stallholders in hawker centers, wet markets, coffee shops, and industrial canteens to use e-payments and avoid having to handle cash.
- The government will enhance support for businesses which are ready to take their basic payment and invoicing functions digital. Previously, the government enhanced its SMEs Go Digital program to help businesses adopt digital solutions to cope with lockdown measures and rolled out the Food Delivery and e-commerce Booster Packages, supporting more than 10,000 food services and retail establishments in going online. To provide a further boost, the government will introduce a “Digital Resilience Bonus”, starting with the F&B and retail sectors, which are most affected by the safe distancing requirements. Eligible businesses can receive a payout of up to SGD 5,000 (USD 3,588) if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions.
- The Digital Resilience Bonus will have an additional tier of SGD 5,000 (USD 3,588) for F&B and retail businesses which also incorporate advanced solutions. In addition, the government is setting aside SGD 250 million to help businesses digitalize in partnership with digital platform solution providers and industry champions. This could developing Offline-to-Online business models to access new domestic revenue streams and international demand, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on revenue.
(Sources: Channel News Asia, Singapore’s Budget 2020, Today Online)