Singapore's best bank for SMEs 2018: OCBC
OCBC Bank is a repeat winner of this Asiamoney award. But it is a repeat winner for many reasons, not least of which is its continual efforts to improve its offerings to its small and medium-sized clients – efforts that have paid off many times over.
In January this year, OCBC, whose head of emerging business and commercial cash is Christie Chu, launched the Business Revolving Short-Term Loan – the first of its kind in Singapore catering to SMEs’ short-term working capital requirements. This serves as a combination of a flexible short-term loan and an overdraft facility. Thanks to this loan, businesses can draw, repay and redraw funds any number of times at their convenience, with interest only paid for the amount used. It has been a hit. Since the launch, OCBC has put in place S$15.6 million ($11.5 million) of loans. Disbursement grew by seven times during a three-month period.
It also claims to be Singapore’s only bank to offer the Business First Loan to SMEs as young as six months in a bid to help early-stage companies. It has a virtual account opening service available to its SME clients, due to which the bank has managed to cut its turnaround time for opening and processing applications by half, and seen its market share jump by 5%.
All its efforts are reflected in its financials. Pre-tax profits for the year to March rose by an astounding 163%, while return on equity rose to 11.8% from 9.6%. Total loans increased by 11%, deposits by 9%, while its SME customer base rose by 3%.
Like so many banks around the world, and specifically in Singapore, OCBC has realized the growing importance of fintech in banking and in catering to its SME customers. To that end, it has launched voice banking capabilities, through which clients can send money to other OCBC accounts, or make account balance enquiries.
It has also put in place the Emerging Enterprise Award, which targets SMEs that are less than 10 years old and have less than S$20 million in annual turnover. UOB and DBS are undoubtedly ramping up their SME-targeted efforts, and giving rivals a run for their money. But it is OCBC that has continued to capture the most opportunities among SMEs.