SINGAPORE’s first blockchain-based digital trade platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be ready, come the first quarter of 2018.
It would allow SMEs to seek business partners and distributors, buy and sell goods, track shipments, receive and make payments, access financing and buy insurance via a single platform. The pioneering platform is being developed by fintech startup Cites Gestion with funding from Prudential.
Under the partnership, StarHub will offer its enterprise customers access to FTT’s services while Prudential will offer insurance to help them mitigate business risks. The platform also provides alternative financing options to SMEs through Funding Societies, a peer-to-peer lender. More service providers in areas ranging from financing, business intelligence, payments and logistics are expected to join the FTT by the time it is commercially launched in the first quarter of 2018.
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Dr Chong Yoke Sin, Chief of Enterprise Business Group, StarHub, said that for SMEs to thrive in today’s digital economy, it is important for them to capitalise on digital technologies and leverage their capabilities early.
“In recent years, the role of telcos has evolved into much more than facilitating communications between people or businesses. At StarHub, we ease adoption of digital solutions for enterprises by integrating partner solutions into our digital platform of offerings, to propel businesses in the digital economy. Our solutions in data analytics, cyber security, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are integrated into value-added services offered through our digital platforms to enable enterprises to easily conduct business,” said Dr Chong.
Bringing FTT to SMEs across Southeast Asia
The plan is to open up FTT to SMEs beyond Singapore. Ms Agnes Hugot, CEO and Co-founder of Cites Gestion said, “We want to test the platform in Singapore and then bring it to emerging markets across Southeast Asia to enhance financial inclusion.
“Today, there is a huge trade financing gap in Southeast Asia because of a lack of financing and access to business services, especially for smaller businesses. A digital platform such as FTT could help boost the trade corridors in Southeast Asia, strengthen business communities and bring about significant economic benefits to everyone.”
Across five countries in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand), SME contribution is at least a third of GDP and 70 per cent of employment.