Industry Spotlight: Singapore 2022

Welcome to Sleek’s Industry Spotlight, a monthly series that rounds up all that is buzzing in the world of business, finance, and entrepreneurship. We’ve got all the essential information that you need to know for your business – right here.


October news highlights

Singapore is Asia’s top financial centre

The latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) is out, with Singapore beating Hong Kong to become the top financial centre in Asia. This places Singapore as third globally, with Hong Kong trailing closely at fourth place.

Here are the financial centres that made the top 10:

  1. New York, US
  2. London, UK
  3. Singapore
  4. Hong Kong
  5. San Francisco, US
  6. Shanghai, China
  7. Los Angeles, US
  8. Beijing, China
  9. Shenzhen, China
  10. Paris, France

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A new phase for tech start-ups as most enter survival mode

Experts are expecting tech start-ups to go into survival mode as global venture funding reaches its lowest level in nine quarters. The start-up ecosystem now faces strong headwinds, with many experts advising tech start-ups to exercise caution in proceeding forward.

Some tips include:

  • Do whatever it takes to survive.
  • Have realistic expectations of your cash runway.
  • Focus on maximizing efficiency, not growth.

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Greater efforts and focus on upskilling of the workforce

In his speech at the Singapore Economic Policy Forum, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong stated that the government will invest more in skills training in order to develop specialists across the economy. This includes providing better incentives for employers who send their workers for longer and more comprehensive courses.

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Launch of DBS’ AI-driven solution for SMEs

DBS has launched the DBS Quick Finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Equipped with hyper-personalized AI and data analytics, the solution boasts of a quicker application process and approval timings for SMEs to gain access to up to S$300k of working capital.

In a statement, DBS rolled out the solution to help SMEs cope with “an inflationary environment, an impending goods and services tax hike, supply chain challenges, and rising interest rates,”.

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Tool to encourage sustainable strategies and reduce costs

The Green Compass is a new tool developed to help companies reduce their business costs by improving resource efficiency, highlighting key areas that need improvement, and future-proofing operations against supply chain or resource shocks.

Interested companies will attend a four-day course, eligible for SkillsFuture funding, to learn how to use the tool while learning more about sustainability trends and methodologies, and assess their company’s environmental sustainability level.

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Tackling the threat of ransomware against businesses

The Singapore government has set up a new task force to address the growing concern of ransomware and cyberattacks on businesses. Led by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), proposed changes include incentivizing businesses to implement the best practices and protocols for cybersecurity.

For instance, eCommerce businesses may be evaluated on their security protocols, giving either a green, yellow, or red tick to indicate to consumers their internet hygiene. This is to help them make better-informed decisions on their digital transactions.

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September news highlights

Updated Industry Transformation Map for financial services

On September 15th, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong announced the latest Financial Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025. Introduced in 2017, the ITM 2025 strives to drive transformation efforts in the financial sector.

Amidst growing macroeconomic and geopolitical risks, DPM Mr Wong noted that the new roadmap would implement new strategies and targets to help the industry remain resilient against emerging challenges. Amongst these include:

  1. A S$400 million grant to facilitate training support for finance professionals.
  2. Developing solutions to scale up sustainable and transition financing.
  3. Promoting areas such as capability building and green FinTech
  4. Deepening capabilities in various asset classes (i.e.wealth management, insurance and fintech)

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New work pass to ensure global competitiveness

As part of its plan to remain competitive, Singapore will introduce a new work pass — the Overseas Network & Expertise (ONE) work pass. The ONE pass will allow top global talents to reside in Singapore without having to secure employment first.

In order to qualify, applicants must earn a monthly salary of S$30k and above or possess outstanding achievements in the areas of arts, sports, science and/ or academia. Applications for the ONE Pass will be open from 1st January 2023.

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The latest fight in combating climate change

In an unprecedented move, Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, has donated his entire company to the fight against climate change.

Chouinard has stated that all profits not reinvested, will be donated to climate causes. This is estimated to be around US$100M, depending on the company’s health. The brand’s website states that “Earth is now our only shareholder”.”

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Singapore’s dollar is Asia’s most resilient currency

Top strategists remain bullish on Singapore’s currency that is establishing itself to be a rare global winner in the global currency market. This is primarily driven by expectations from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to extend its policy tightening to help bring down core inflation. Expects forecast the Singapore dollar to rise to 1.38 against the US dollar by year-end.

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Drop in Singapore’s crypto funding

In the latest report by KPMG, crypto funding in Singapore has decreased in the first half of 2022. Valuations fell from S$756.9 million in the first six months of 2022 to US$1.3 billion in the second half of 2021. Despite this, the sector has received more deals involving significant start-up investments, with two-thirds coming from seed and early-stage venture capital funding.

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Singapore and India sign new agreement for fintech firms
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) in India have signed an agreement that allows regulatory collaboration and partnership in fintech between the two markets.

“I hope this will spur innovation, create new jobs and investments, and further strengthen the development of the fintech industry in both Gujarat and Singapore,” said DPM Mr Wong.

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Key findings from SME survey

In its annual survey, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) found that the top three challenges faced by SMEs were an increase in costs, shortage of manpower, and inflationary pressures. However, many saw digitalization as a key to overcome some of these challenges.

Speaking at SCCCI’s SME and Infocomm Commerce Conference (SMEICC), Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo also highlighted the Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service (CTO-as-a-Service) platform that is a one-stop self-help platform with over 450 solutions for SMEs to plug their digital gaps.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • 38% projected an increase in revenue
  • 72% forecast that they would turn a profit this year
  • 75% indicated that they faced rising business costs
  • 54% said they would transform, automate, and/or digitalise their business
  • 68% have applied for government assistance schemes

Read more

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