Singapore is giving new SMEs free 6-month access to digital solutions under the Start Digital initiative

The Straits Times

Singapore is giving new small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to two foundational digital solutions of their choice for free – at least in the first six months of the 18-month commitment period.

The Start Digital initiative, launched by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore on Wednesday (Jan 9), will allow SMEs to pick two solutions across five categories of core business functions – accounting, human resource management system & payroll, digital marketing, digital transactions and cybersecurity.

According to IMDA, the solutions will be “priced affordably for the remaining period” after the first six months.

According to Mr Peter Ong, Chairman of Enterprise Singapore, Start Digital will provide SMEs with digital tools right at “birth” – at the point when they are just starting to shape their organisational DNA, develop operational processes, undertake staff training and make other business decisions.

“Starting digital will help them start right and position well for growth, resilience and productivity. As many young SMEs take this first digital step, the impact on our enterprise landscape and economy can be great,” he said.

The initiative will be rolled out via programme partners DBS, Maybank, OCBC, Singtel, StarHub and UOB.

For example, DBS’ SME Connect portal was launched on the same day for SMEs across all industries to access web-based business tools and services.

“SMEs who are trying to keep pace with the technological shifts in the local and global economy can access accounting, HR and payroll, digital marketing, e-commerce, and cybersecurity solutions to give them a leg up,” the bank said in a statement.

In addition, DBS is also allowing new-to-bank SME customers to open an account with the bank without having to visit a branch or meet with a relationship manager. The bank estimates that over 80 per cent of new accounts will be opened through this channel this year.

Aside from Start Digital, two new nationwide initiatives announced by Minister for Communications and Information, S Iswaran, will help businesses accelerate their digital transformation.

The Nationwide E-Invoicing Network will enable companies to adopt e-invoicing to increase productivity and speed up payment collection cycles, while the Data Protection Trustmark (DPTM) will help organisations build consumer confidence in their data protection policies and practices.

Grant support will be provided to help businesses build their e-invoicing network, while the application fee for DPTM will be waived till the end of the year, IMDA said.