Demystifying Digitalisation Grants for Singapore SMEs

Kevin Fitzgerald, Managing Director – Asia, Xero

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses, particularly SMEs. In response, the Singapore Government has introduced several forward thinking initiatives to support local businesses and help them become more resilient and competitive.

Two such initiatives are the S$200 E-invoicing Registration Grant and the $10,000 Digital Resilience Bonus announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore.

In this article, I’ll share how businesses can take advantage of these initiatives as well as the benefits these digital solutions offer.

Improving cashflow with E-invoicing (now known as InvoiceNow)

The Singapore government recently introduced a nationwide E-invoicing network enabling businesses to transact digitally with other linked companies, including business suppliers and customers.

With e-invoicing, invoices are received directly into a company’s accounting system, ready to be approved and paid, eliminating the need for separate paper and email invoices. No more misplaced invoices or manual data entry. E-invoicing saves admin time and reduces the risk of human error.

Most importantly, e-invoicing makes it easier and simpler for customers to pay, meaning that companies often get paid faster. With many businesses operating with lower cash reserves than usual at the moment, interruptions to payments can have immediate implications for payroll, solvency and possibly even survival. We’ve seen from our customers across Asia, that small businesses using online invoice payments get paid up to 25 days faster than those that don’t.

The IMDA is offering a one-time S$200 E-invoicing Registration Grant to help SMEs adopt e-invoicing. All businesses incorporated on or before 25 March 2020 are eligible for the grant. To apply, sign up for Peppol-ready accounting software, like Xero, and register your business on the Peppol network before 31 December 2020. No further applications are required – businesses will automatically be disbursed their grants to their registered Unique Entity Number (UEN) through PayNow Corporate. See here on how to sign up

Getting Up to Speed on Digital Resilience

The Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) is another grant from the IMDA that aims to uplift a broad range of businesses to improve their productivity and competitiveness through digitalising their business operations.

Beginning with the F&B and retail sectors, the DRB offers companies up to S$10,000 to implement accounting, e-commerce, data analytics and other digital solutions. The grant is broken down into three categories. To maximise the payout, business owners should incorporate solutions that cover each of the categories.

Third-party apps integrated with an online accounting software or small business platform provide an easy and effective starting point. Business owners can create customised, integrated and scalable solutions for their businesses which satisfy DRB requirements.

Category 1 – Business Process Solutions

Food Services: Accounting, HR/payroll, and digital ordering (dine-in/takeaway)

Retail: Accounting, HR/payroll, and inventory management.

Any food services or retail business using the three solutions at least once a month is eligible for a S$2,500 payout.

Accounting software provides SMEs with real-time visibility over their business and financials, enabling them to respond agiley to unforeseen circumstances or take advantage of new opportunities.

HR/payroll apps simplify and automate payroll, rostering systems, employee admin, and more, saving businesses time and ensuring the continuity of their operations whether staff are working in the office or remotely.

For food services businesses, digital ordering solutions help manage point of sale systems, home deliveries, online ordering and loyalty programs, and additionally sync sales data with accounting software. As for retail businesses, inventory management solutions ensure inventory levels and movements line up with orders, sales, and deliveries, to avoid any potential stock issues.

Category 2  – Digital Presence

Digital Presence tools enable sales through online shopfronts and food delivery systems as well as purchasing through e-Procurement platforms. SMEs who use these solutions at least once a month are eligible to receive the additional S$2,500.

With the additional layer of digitalisation, businesses can expand their customer bases and simplify their ordering processes, in addition digitising their invoices and financials, and automating HR and payroll processes, while syncing logistics to their online inventory management system covered in Category 1.

Category 3: Data Mining and Analytics

Data mining and analytics can help business leaders make informed decisions, leveraging multiple data sources to optimise their business offering, marketing expenditure, customer interactions and more. Businesses using data mining and analytics tools least once a month are eligible for the remaining S$5,000 payout.

As with the E-invoicing Registration Grant, business owners are not required to submit any applications for the DRB. Providers of qualified solutions will submit the UENs for customers using their solution to the IMDA. The IMDA will then credit the applicable Bonus to the SMEs PayNow Corporate account.