SBI plans tapping Singapore SME businesses

The State Bank of India is planning to expand its market in Singapore by enhancing its relationship across small and medium enterprises (SMEs) some of which have strong footholds across Asia Pacific.

Acknowledging the stiff competition from fintech companies, the SBI is also contemplating introducing its YONO SBI app while having opened remittance services to all bank accounts through eRemit and remittance kiosk channels in the city state.

“We are working on extending credit to Singapore-based SMEs, supporting their businesses both locally and regionally,” said SBI Country Head Kishore Kumar Poludasu, who recently took charge of the bank in a marketplace with global trading and financial links.

Singapore SMEs accounts for 65% of employment and contributed SGD 196.8 billion or 49 per cent to the economy in 2017, according to the Department of Statistics here.

“We see the potential of further expanding our services to SMEs,” added Poludasu, anticipating SBI’s growth in line with Singapore’s expansion as an Asian financial hub.

The SBI has served the Singapore retail and corporate sectors as a qualified full bank since 2008.

It has six branches and offering ATM services under ATM5 network across the island state and two remittance centres, especially serving the large pool of Indian workers at dormitories in the industrial sectors.

Poludasu also acknowledged the stiff competition from FinTech but was quick to assure that banks, as leaders in the financial markets, are adopting technologies at a faster pace.

The SBI plans to offer its YONO app, an omni-channel service at fingertip, to manage a wide range of financial services here.

“YONO SBI has been successful in India, and we are looking at introducing it in Singapore,” Poludasu said on Friday.

He said YONO app will fit into the Singapore’s banking systems where advanced technologies are being introduced at faster pace.

Singapore regulatory clearance will be sought to introduce YONO, he added.

During his visit to Singapore on May 31, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched three Indian apps – BHIM, Rupay and SBI app – at a ‘Business, Innovation and Community Event’.

RuPay digital payments system is linked up with Singapore’s Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), allowing both to be used for payments in the two countries.

“Disruptive technologies are fast changing the marketing of services across the globe. We in the banking sectors are working hard on innovations and maintain a lead in applying these technologies across our network of global businesses,” stressed Poludasu.

The SBI has also opened its ATMs for remittances for account holders.

“This makes it easy for industrial workers here to transmit money back home quickly through our ATM located at strategic points,” he said.

Poludasu underlined the importance of remittances, which, according to the World Bank, was India’s top earnings at USD 80 billion in 2018 from the global Indian diaspora.

Poludasu said the SBI has served the Singapore businesses community steadily over 42 years, having started as an offshore bank in 1977.

“We are serving the credit needs of Indian businesses and will continue to do so, but we are also scaling up our services with non-Indian businesses,” he said.