UOB helps Thai SMEs digitalise

UOB helps Thai SMEs digitalise

UOB Thailand is supporting local entrepreneurs to digitalise their business operations and strengthen their competitiveness in international markets amid the global economic rebound.

UOB Thailand, in collaboration with both government and private partners, is implementing the 2022 Smart Business Transformation Program.

The bank has operated the project from 2019 and built up engagement with around 4,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) nationwide. For this year the bank aims to engage with 2,500 SMEs, before rising to 8,000 in five years, said senior vice-president for digital engagement and fintech innovation Sirinun Jiradilok.

Thai SMEs have been undergoing a digital transformation, aiming to survive the prolonged impact of the pandemic on the economy. This digitalisation has strengthened local SMEs operations, improving efficiency, reducing operating costs and expanding to overseas markets.

"Conducting the programme for the past three years, two of which were affected by the pandemic, we found local SMEs can adjust to digital business operations quite well, particularly in e-commerce and expanding to overseas markets. They also improved competitiveness at the international level," Ms Sirinun said.

A survey by HUBBA, a partner of the programme, of 102 startups and SMEs found that 46.4% aim to grow their business in the international market, 21.4% in the regional market and 32.2% in the local market.

The respondents want to increase sales mainly for short-term goals, while targeting expansion to the international market in the long term.

The survey also found digital technology can boost SMEs' sales, grow a new customer base, add new business partners and develop new products and services.

She said SMEs who can weather the Covid-19 impact should be stronger after digital transformation. They should have greater business opportunities amid the global economic recovery, said Ms Sirinun.

UOB Thailand supports micro-finance for entrepreneurs on e-marketplace platforms. However, it has no plan to offer digital loans to SME customers.

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