“In Singapore, the fintech revolution has just begun”

Our very own co-Founder and CEO: Charis Liau shared her thoughts on Fintech in Singapore with The Worldfolio.

 

ASEAN, with a population of over 630 million people, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. There are still a lot of challenges facing the region. What, in your opinion, is technology and particularly FinTech essential in the development of the region?

The ASEAN market is the world’s 3rd largest market after China and India. 70% of the ASEAN population is less than 40 years old and with the massive emergence of the digitally active middle-class population, the internet economy is expected to grow to USD 200 billion by 2025. By 2020, it is expected that there will be more than 480 million internet users. However, 70% of this population is unbanked.

Technology, in particularly Fintech, is able to lower costs significantly and digital finance can accelerate access to financial services for the unbanked in ASEAN. Having access to basic banking services (payments, remittances, insurance etc.) and even financing (through marketplace lending platforms) can boost the GDP of economies and bring profound changes and improvement to the lives of the people living in this region.

In Singapore, the fintech revolution has just begun. With the strong support of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) and Enterprise Singapore, we are creating a smart financial eco-system comprising of borrowers, lenders, and insurance partners, institutional providers of liquidity to bring about a more vibrant, sustainable community to serve the needs of the underserved and unbanked companies. SMEs in Singapore contribute about 45% of the GDP and employ 69% of the population but 40% of them remains underbanked and underserved. Using our proprietary credit scoring model with over 200 data points of each borrower, we are able to curate a strong portfolio of credit-worthy borrowers who would traditionally be underserved or unserved by the traditional credit providers.

As a leading fintech company, our objective is to automate as much processes as we possibly can. The founding management team comprises of very experienced former investment and corporate bankers with over 155 years of banking and finance experience. We developed our own proprietary credit scoring algorithm, “Mintgrade” taking into account data from a wide variety of sources including banks, financials, third party contracts, Singapore credit bureau as well as third party credit checks from Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. The Mintgrade is a useful measure of the underlying risk profile of each transaction and provides our investors with a quick overview of the risk of the deal in their decisioning process. We are also breaking new ground by introducing psychographic tests which will add a new dimension to our credit assessment. The psychographic test enables us to determine the “willingness” of the borrower and/or the promoters in repaying a debt.

 

This article was contributed by The Worldfolio.

Charis Liau: An Ace Entrepreneur in the Financial Services Space

Our CEO was named 1 of The 30 Most Influential Entrepreneurs to Watch 2018. Our co-founder and CEO, Charis Liau, considers herself as an accidental entrepreneur as starting a business, let alone in the finance space, was never on the radar when she started her career. However, her experience during her final days in banking made her realize that in order to truly be effective in assisting businesses that form the backbone of a country’s economy, she had to forge a different path.

Charis believes that she has been blessed to have a couple of former banking colleagues who shared in her vision, and together they started Minterest in 2016 with a bold ambition of building a new financial eco-system in Singapore and into the neighboring countries.

A Financial Bridge

Minterest operates an online marketplace funding platform that connects borrowers with investors. Its mission is to empower investors and businesses and deliver on their financial goals through customized solutions and financial technology. The company aims to create a sustainable community in which investors and businesses mutually benefit by collaborating and leveraging innovations in financial technology.

As a leading marketplace funding platform, Minterest utilizes a broad spectrum of innovative technologies and its team’s financial expertise to overcome existing real-world financial shortcomings. Minterest believes in bringing financial inclusion to the unbanked and underserved needs of businesses. As experienced former bankers, Charis and her team utilises its strong financial background in understanding credit, structuring, legal and compliance matters to assist each borrower in their funding journey, turbocharging their business to bring their future to the present.

Entrepreneurial Attributes 101

Charis believes that to be successful, an entrepreneur must possess different attributes as the requirements of running a successful business are multi-faceted:

  • One must have the confidence to believe that the business will succeed.
  • One must have a relentless focus on the things needed to make the business work.
  • One has to have an open-mind and see every event or situation as a business opportunity.
  • One must believe that one’s business is better than the competitors
  • One must live and breathe the business and must continue to find ways to make the business better in delighting its customers.

Disrupting the Financial Services Industry

Charis started this business because of the belief that she can use her banking and financial experience to assist the hard workers of the economy to meet their financial goals. SMEs contribute to 45% of the economy and employ 69% of the working population in Singapore.   Minterest is not just about serving the financing needs of business but also having a positive and social impact. By assisting small businesses to be successful, Minterest is indirectly helping to provide and create employment for the workforce and by extension, improving each person’s personal economy. Charis takes pride in able to procure financing for entrepreneurs where they can turbocharge their businesses, bringing their future to the present. Being able to make a positive difference to them spurs her on in this business.

Leading By Automation

Charis believes, “Competition is good as it pushes us to be better in serving our borrowers and investors.”  Her team constantly reviews their processes and how they can deliver well-structured, risk-mitigated investment solutions to their investors. The workflow that processes loan applications is developed in-house – this means that 80% of its credit assessment process is automated allowing it to deliver results of loan applications quickly and bring scale to its own business.

The organization also has a proprietary credit scoring algorithm, “MintGrade”, developed in-house. The MintGrade collects over 200 data points per loan and assigns a rating to each loan offering, giving investors a quick overview of the underlying risk profile of the loan investment when the investors embark on their decision making process.

Minterest is also breaking new grounds by introducing psychographic tests which will add a new dimension to its credit assessment. “The psychographic tests enables us to determine the “willingness” of the borrower and/or the promoters in repaying a debt,” adds Charis.

Overcoming Barriers

The biggest challenge for Charis was to make Minterest known in the market. And what made it difficult was finding and hiring talent with the right attitude who shares the vision and mission of the business. However, with persistence and a sheer grit, Charis and her team has overcome such initial challenges. She states, “Running a business is never smooth sailing and there will always be challenges but overcoming them makes the business stronger everyday as we seek to deliver on our mission.

A Strategic Expansion

Charis has plans to expand the Minterest business into the neighboring ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines in the next couple of years. ASEAN is the world’s 3rd largest market after China and India with a population of over 640 million. According to her, with the emergence of the middle class and the massive rise of consumerism and a digitally active population, the internet economy is expected to grow to USD200 billion by 2025, with more than 480 million internet users by 2020. However, 73% (438 million) of the ASEAN population are unbanked. A huge market opportunity exists for platform lenders to serve the needs of the unbanked population and she believes that she plays a key part in this movement to address their needs.

Imparting Words of Wisdom

Charis shares her wisdom received through first hand industry experiences with the emerging entrepreneurs. She asserts, “My advice is to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to do and achieve. Find an area of expertise that you are good at, passionate about and focus on it.”

“The execution process may change as you tweak your business model but it is the vision and mission that will guide you to where you want to go. Rome was not built in a day, so do plan wisely and seek out resources early. And have the perseverance to keep going even when it is tough,” she adds.

 

This article was contributed by Insights Success.

Member’s Night at Chef’s Table – 5 Nov 2018

Another night we get to enjoy with our members. It has been 9 months since our last investor’s night, and we are glad to be able to connect with our members once again through this event. What a coincidence as it so happens to also be our 18-months anniversary!

 

Without further ado, let us complete our set up and have some fun!

Starting it off

Firstly, we start off with a speech by our very own Co-founder and CEO, Charis Liau as she shares about our Minterest story and the future of the financial services industry. We hope you have also enjoyed our 18-months anniversary video as we bring you along our journey since our incorporation.

Then, our Co-founder and COO, Ronnie Chia shared about his (love for fried rice,) what you should look out for when making an investment and the investors’ journey with Minterest, which everyone who decides to join our platform as an investor will be able to experience.

The owner of Chef’s Table, Chef Stephan, who was a borrower on our platform, also spoke about his borrower journey with us.

  

After the presentation

Now it’s time – let us all mingle around and enjoy!

Thank you to all members who participated in this event. We hope to see more of you at our next member’s night, till then!

Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Platform 2018

We are delighted to announce that Minterest is awarded the Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Platform 2018 – Singapore by the Global Business Insights Awards 2018.

The Global Business Insight Awards celebrate business leadership, innovation in finance and investment and sector success across all seven continents of the world.

 

Making Connections: SME Interview Series – Minterest

Founded in 2016 by three experienced finance professionals, we, Minterest, seek to empower small businesses by connecting them with individual investors through marketplace lending platform. Till date, we have raised more than S$32 million in small business loans. To find out more about our success and future plans, ValueChampion interviewed our Co-Founder and CEO Charis Liau.

When did Minterest begin its operations?

Minterest was incorporated in March 2016 and commenced operations in May 2017 after securing its Capital Markets Services (CMS) Licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in January 2017. Since May 2017, Minterest has assisted businesses in Singapore that were underserved by the conventional financial institutions by disbursing more than S$32 million in loans over almost 90 different transactions.

When and how did Minterest first obtain funding? How long did it take to raise funding?

Minterest was initially funded by the founders and prior to commencing operations, we secured seed funding from friends and family. This took place over a week which was relatively quick.

What was the biggest challenge that Minterest had to overcome to raise capital? What strategy, tactic or know-how was the most helpful in convincing investors to invest in the company?

The biggest challenge at that time was that we just had a concept with no operating history to prove that the business can be successful. But once we shared our vision, mission and how we plan to execute them, the investors were convinced. The fact that the founders and senior management team have significant banking and financial experience (125 years in total) provided another layer of comfort to the investors that we know what we were talking about.

After its initial funding, did Minterest ever require additional financing? Why?

We have not had to raise additional funding so far but the time has come for us to do so. As we move into the second half of our second year in operations, additional resources would be required for further technology build-out, marketing and other operational matters as we seek to scale our business and expand to the region. We now have a viable business model and having proven the business concept, it is now time to move into the next stage of our business evolution.

What type of financing did Minterest obtain? Which sources did Minterest consider? How was this helpful for your business?

Minterest has only raised equity so far and will be looking to do the same in our next round of financing. For the new round of financing, we will be looking at VCs and a couple of investors who have supported us during our growing period over the last 18 months. The equity that was raised was important for the business as it provided financing for operations as well as the necessary capital base that is required by the MAS.

How does Minterest help businesses better manage their finances?

We bring the big corporate fundraising experience to small businesses given our deep and broad banking and financial experience. Our borrowers’ journey includes a reasonably in-depth analysis of future cash flows. Not only does this exercise assist in our credit assessment of the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, it also helps the borrower’s management to better understand how their expected cash position would be like in the future. Some of our borrowers have continued to use this tool to measure how well their forecasting is when matched against actual numbers.

How does Minterest distinguish itself from Singapore’s other crowdfunding platforms?

Minterest distinguishes itself from others through the following “3P”s:

  • People

Former bankers with a combined 155 years’ of experience who understand credit, structuring and security mechanisms. Platform investors invest with the knowledge that every deal is properly assessed and put through our proprietary Mintgrade credit scoring algorithm.

  • Products

A wide range of products across all risk spectrum to feed the appetite of platform investors, allowing them to diversify their portfolio. Products are divided into four broad categories – Small Loans, Invoice Financing, Structured Loans and Convertible Loans. The diversity of products generally leads to stickiness amongst the platform investors.

  • Processes

A set of transparent and clear processes to analyse and assess loan applications. The automated workflow that was developed in-house allows the team to quickly assess and process deals – this applies to all product categories. We have also developed a credit scoring engine that assign a rating to every loan application. The rating system is much appreciated by our investors as it provides a quick snapshot of the risk profile of the loans that are listed on the platform.

What advice would you offer to other startups in Singapore who are looking for ways to finance their businesses and operations?

It is important that start-ups have a clear vision and mission and how they are going to execute on them. Without identifiable cash flow sources, it will be very difficult for such companies to raise financing especially in the debt space. There could be a possibility to raise equity financing but investors need to be convinced that the people and business model are right and can be differentiated against competitors.

Did Minterest consider any other locations besides Singapore as its headquarters? Why/why not?

Singapore as Minterest’s headquarters is a natural choice. The founders are based in Singapore and it is also a major financial centre and fintech hub in the region. The regulatory regime is forward looking and is conducive for a business like ours to grow and flourish. With high regulatory standards ensuring our processes are of the highest standards, we will then bring these standards to other countries as we seek to provide our services to the unserved and underserved businesses in the region.

What makes Minterest’s work most challenging? Rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is in the deal selection process. We see hundreds of loan applications each month and whilst many have interesting ideas and products, it is important not to lose sight of the most important criteria for loan approvals – cashflows. We have developed our proprietary screening model taking into account over 200 data points to assess each deal. Structuring of repayment sources is critical in our opinion as we need to ensure that the loans can be repaid on time to our investors.

The most rewarding part is when we disburse a loan to a small business knowing that the proceeds will be used to turbo-charge the borrowers’ business, allowing them to continue to provide employment to the Singapore workforce and contribute positively to the country’s economy.

 

This article was contributed by ValueChampion.

Singapore and Indonesia working on S$13.8 billion bilateral financial agreement

To support monetary and financial stability in both countries, Singapore and Indonesia will be working out a US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion) package, comprising bilateral local currency swap and United States-dollar denominated repurchase agreements.

This was announced on Thursday (Oct 11) by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the third Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo witnessing the signing of the Bilateral Investment Treaty by Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi in Bali on Thursday (Oct 11).

Both leaders discussed a range of issues, including the review of the double taxation agreement between the two countries, and how the pact will help provide the right infrastructure and incentives for business leaders to invest.

They also spoke about the uncertain external economic environment which has affected many financial markets. Mr Lee said: “We have tasked our two central banks, which means the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) on our side and the Bank of Indonesia on their side, to work out and conclude a bilateral financial arrangement soon.”

MAS managing director Ravi Menon said both sides are having preliminary discussions and details of the US$10 billion agreement “should be out soon”.

He explained that currency swaps or the repurchasing of the US dollars by central banks only happen when either party requests for it, but the vast majority are usually standby arrangements that serve to instill confidence in the market.

The current instability in financial markets arising from the normalisation of US monetary policy has sent capital moving out of emerging markets, including Indonesia. That has sent the Indonesian rupiah tumbling to its lowest level in two decades.

“Some outflow of emerging markets is perfectly normal and to be expected. But you just want to make sure it does not become a snowballing effect, that it does not become overdone. The most important reason for doing this… to build confidence in the region in the current climate of financial market turbulence,” Mr Menon said.

He also added that Singapore wants to make sure Indonesia is well-placed to ride out this period of fund outflows due to Singapore’s investments and business interests in the country.

“Indonesia has been feeling a little bit more of the pressure in the currency markets. … This we regard as something temporary because of the temporary nature of the situation that emerging markets are facing. We are pretty confident that Indonesia will emerge from this well within a year,” Mr Menon said, adding that the macro fundamentals of Indonesia are sound and its policy responses are judicious.

Singapore also has currency swap agreements with the central banks of China and Japan, and these agreements are renewed every three years.

Mr Lee — who is on a two-day visit in Bali —and Mr Widodo also witnessed the signing of several agreements, including the bilateral investment treaty which sets out rules on how Indonesia should treat investments and investors from Singapore and vice versa.

In a joint press statement by both countries, Mr Lee said the bilateral investment treaty “will encourage greater flows of investments into Indonesia”. Separately, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said it would give companies greater certainty and confidence, as their interests are protected.

Singapore has been the top investor in Indonesia since 2014, with US$8.4 billion (S$11.6 billion) invested in 2017.

Singapore’s trade with Indonesia totalled S$59.4 billion in 2017, making Singapore Indonesia’s third largest trading partner after China and Japan. Indonesia is Singapore’s sixth largest trading partner after China, Malaysia, the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

This is the third Leaders’ Retreat between both countries. The previous one was held in Singapore on Sept 7 last year, commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between both countries.

Mr Lee said he had a “fruitful discussion” with Mr Widodo on how both countries can deepen cooperation.

For example, Mr Lee said both leaders talked about how adjusting incentives and rules, such as the minimum investment amount, can encourage companies to invest in the Kendal Industrial Park and Nongsa Digital Park.

Kendal Industrial Park, which was launched at the 2016 leaders’ retreat and located at Central Java, is a project by Sembcorp Development and PT Jababeka of Indonesia. It is supported by the governments of both countries.

Nongsa Digital Park at Batam was launched in March this year to develop Batam as a “digital bridge” between Singapore and other Indonesian cities.

Both countries are also looking to develop a fellowship programme for regional leaders in Indonesia, which will be called the Rising Fellowship. Mr Lee said he hopes young leaders from various Indonesian provinces can come to Singapore and learn from one another.

Mr Lee also offered his condolences on the recent earthquakes and tsunami which devastated Central Sulawesi. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami struck the Indonesian island on Sep 27, leaving more than 2,000 people died.

In addition to deploying two aircrafts to send humanitarian assistance and assist with rescue efforts, Mr Lee said that many Singapore groups and non-governmental organisations have been actively fundraising to support relief efforts.

“Singapore stands with Indonesia during this difficult time. We are confident that these affected areas in Indonesia will make a quick and strong recovery,” he added.

On Thursday, a magnitude-6 earthquake struck off the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, killing three people in Java and damaging some buildings while causing panic among residents.

Tremors were felt in Bali, where the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat is held concurrently with the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Writing on Facebook, Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is part of the high-level delegation accompanying Mr Lee, said he was woken up in his hotel room by a brief tremor but “apart from the lampshade swaying, everything else seemed fine”.

(more…)

Minterest: 30 Best Small Companies To Watch 2018

Established in March 2016 and led by Charis Liau and Ronnie Chia, Minterest is a leading online marketplace funding platform connecting investors with borrowers, and is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. As former bankers with deep experience in corporate and structured finance, Minterest was started with a bold ambition to build a new financial eco-system in Singapore.

The company started its journey by assisting a small business making waves in the coffee scene in Singapore. The business needed some financing assistance to expand into other countries in the region and Minterest stepped forward for the fundraising. Being the first deal on the platform, it was unclear how the fund raise would perform but when the campaign got underway, there was a lot of interest from its investors. The offering was snapped up in no time and the team at Minterest drew strength and encouragement from that experience to work even harder to deliver on its mission and vision.

Today, Minterest’s loans are snapped up so quickly in Singapore that 97% of the company’s loans are fully participate within a day; in fact, many were fully completed in less than 60 seconds. “We see a very strong demand and supply of liquidity in Singapore to participate in private business loans,” says Charis Liau, CEO of Minterest Private Limited.

In-Conversation with the Leaders of Minterest, Ms. Charis Liau, and Mr. Ronnie Chia:

Q. There is nothing more important for a successful small business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

At Minterest, we believe in bringing financial inclusion to the unbanked and underserved needs of businesses. Businesses have constantly been constrained by various requirements of conventional finance providers and as experienced former bankers, we believe we can turbocharge their businesses to bring their future to the present. We also believe in enabling investors with financial knowledge and access to quality investments, offering them a path to financial empowerment.

As a leading marketplace funding platform, Minterest uses a broad spectrum of innovative technologies and our team’s financial expertise to overcome existing real-world financial shortcomings.

Q. A small business/company may or may not function as expected. It takes everything to stand out and compete in the business world. Was it the same for Minterest?

Being a new start-up, it is not easy, especially when it comes to the area where you are dealing with people’s money. Financial Services is a trust-based industry and to acquire investors, we needed to work hard to demonstrate that the offerings we list on our platform are well-structured and risk-mitigated.

Having a team of experienced former bankers with a combined 155 years of banking and financial experience, we developed our own proprietary credit scoring algorithm drawing on over 200 data points of each borrower. Investors now look at the rating of each loan that is listed and would immediately be able to have a quick overview of the underlying risk profile of the particular loan offering. Borrowers, on the other hand, initially had no idea that we exist. However, through education, creating greater awareness and working with the various government regulatory bodies, we are engaging borrowers who are now viewing us as a true, faster and more viable alternate source of financing for their businesses.

Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?

Talking about the culture of feedback, we are constantly looking to improve our ways of doing business and how we can be more efficient and effective. We have an open channel with our investors through the use of the Telegram app. This allows us to be close to our investing community and know their requirements and pain points. This communication channel has allowed us to adapt our business practices to better improve the user experience.

Q. Any company, big or small, must have the sense of authenticity and originality to succeed. Is your company a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’?

We see ourselves as a leader given our deep financial expertise in the lending space. Our secret sauce is in fact the workflow that we have developed in-house. This relates to how we process loan applications in the most efficient and effective manner – 80% of the loan assessment process is automated – allowing us to achieve scale. In addition, we were the first marketplace funding platform in Singapore to procure an insurance wrap on a loan to mitigate the non-payment of the loan by the borrower. Such insurance facilities are typically reserved only for the banks.

At Minterest, we firmly believe in staying true to our values, creating a strong financial eco-system thereby enhancing the value for our borrowers, investors and stakeholders.

Crafting the Future Roadmap

ASEAN is the world’s 3rd largest market after China and India with a population of over 640 million. With the massive emergence of the middle class, the rise of consumerism and digitally active population, the internet economy is expected to grow to USD200 billion by 2025, with more than 480 million internet users by 2020. However, 73% (438 million) of the ASEAN population are unbanked. Therefore, a huge market opportunity exists for platform lenders to serve the needs of the unbanked population and Minterest believes that it can and will play a key part in this movement to address their needs.

Minterest aims to bring its mission and vision to the South East Asian region, empowering both investors and borrower who are underserved and unserved by the traditional financial institutions. Looking into the future, in a couple of years from now, the company is expected to be operating in a few other countries – Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines,and Vietnam.

Making A Difference

Charis Liau, CEO and Co-Founder: Charis has more than 16 years of banking and financial experience in Asian markets. During her banking career, she specialized in structured finance, asset finance solutions, and corporate lending and relationship management for corporates in Asia.

Charis holds a Fintech Certificate in Future Commerce from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy (First Class Honours) from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder from the CFA Institute.

Ronnie Chia, COO and Co-Founder: With 26 years of corporate and structured finance experience, Ronnie is a finance and banking veteran having worked in merchant banking, corporate and structured finance. He started and led numerous business units at an international bank.

Ronnie graduated from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree majoring in Accountancy and Business Administration.

“Our aim is to empower businesses and investors to enable them to reach their financial goals.”

 

This article was contributed by The Silicon Review.

Minterest at official launch of Networked Trade Platform (NTP)

Minterest is honoured to be a part of the official launch on 26 Sept 2018 of Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP) and the opportunity to meet with our very own Finance Minister Mr. Heng Swee Keat to share about how we help fill the financing gaps for our Singapore corporates.

 

Jointly developed by Singapore Customs and the GovTech Singapore, the NTP is a one stop digital trade and logistics platform connecting players across the world, digitising paper trail, achieving greater economic integration and expansion of intra-Asean and intra-Asia trade.

New trading platform to digitalise paper-based trade processes, grow trade opportunities

A single trade today can involve more than 25 parties, generating 30 to 40 documents and requiring 60 to 70 per cent of the information to be manually re-entered at least once.

But a new online trading service, which combines all customs and trade-related services into one platform, aims to cut back on such onerous paperwork.

The Networked Trade Platform (NTP), launched on Wednesday (Sept 26), brings together four government certification services required for trading in and out of Singapore, as well as another 25 value-added services by third-party firms geared towards trade. Three more government services will be moved to the new platform in the coming months.

The new service will eventually replace the Government’s existing TradeXchange and TradeNet platforms. It aims to raise productivity by digitalising the paper trail, boost competitiveness by giving more accurate data analysis and create opportunities for the third-party service providers.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who launched the NTP at the Orchard Hotel on Wednesday, said the Government had sensed that more needed to be done with previous efforts in TradeNet and TradeXchange.

He noted that a single trade today can involve numerous parties and documents.

“Numerous digital solutions have sprung up around the world to address this. But, many of these function as either a purely regulatory or purely commercial platform,” he said.

“If we can stitch the disparate standalone systems or digital islands together, and bridge the government agencies and business community, the potential value to the economy is significant and transformational.”

First mentioned in Mr Heng’s 2016 Budget speech, the platform went live in December last year, with around 800 companies from various industries joining it to date.

Originally known as the National Trade Platform, it was renamed at the launch event attended by close to 700 industry representatives from the trade, logistics and the public sector.

The NTP was developed by the Singapore Customs and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) over four years, and supported by more than 20 ministries, government agencies and working groups.

Firms have to pay a monthly $40 fee to use the platform.

The Government had conducted discussions and workshops with more than 400 industry experts and 200 organisations, said Dr Tan Kim Siew, co-chair of the National Trade and Logistics Inter-Agency Steering Committee (NTLSC).

Many participants highlighted the industry’s paper-based processes, which require time-consuming manual data entry. Coordination with multiple business partners, including banking, insurance and logistics services, also led some traders to develop expensive proprietary digital systems.

“The NTP must help to achieve paperless trade and greater operational efficiency for our traders. Traders must be able to transact digitally with all their partners,” said Dr Tan.

The digital platform can also enable cross-border trade linkages through technology.

Mr Heng said the Singapore Customs is currently in discussion with China on linking the trading systems of both nations, and the Netherlands on trade regulatory processes.

Asean member states are also looking into extending its Asean Single Window initiative to transmit more trade documents, achieving greater economic integration and expand intra-Asean and intra-Asia trade, said Mr Heng.

Building on the NTP’s capabilities, one workgroup is also developing a digital information exchange project to speed up agricultural trade by removing the requirement for traders to print hardcopy certificates, he added.

The NTP can be found at www.ntp.gov.sg.

 

This article was contributed by The Straits Times.

Enterprise Singapore – Borrower Event

Minterest participated in an event held by Enterprise Singapore earlier today from 9am to 12pm. The event covered various topics, such as preparing your SME for debt financing, alternative SME financing, etc.

Not just that, there were also many chances for networking. We were delighted to be able to interact with the attendees during the tea break and Q&A session. The Minterest team enjoyed our time there as we were able share our knowledge and thoughts with one another.

  

If you missed out on this event or have any other queries, fret not – just drop us an email at [email protected]