Singapore's best bank for SMEs 2020: OCBC
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Singapore's best bank for SMEs 2020: OCBC


Christie Chu, Head, Emerging Business and Commercial Bank Cash, Global Commercial Banking, OCBC.jpg
Christie Chu, OCBC

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of economies. Even in a city-state like Singapore, which is packed with international names, SMEs make up 99% of the city’s enterprises, with 81% locally owned. As banking clients, SMEs need special attention and expertise. OCBC offers just that.

OCBC boasts senior bankers such as Christie Chu, head of emerging business and commercial bank cash in the global commercial banking business. The experience of its team means it is confident serving SMEs throughout the whole life cycle. In Singapore, that often means helping businesses cross borders and reach the broader southeast Asian market.

OCBC has helped SMEs penetrate Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar. The bank’s on-the-ground presence in foreign markets allows its customers to more efficiently establish themselves, and get the funds necessary to do so without having to wade through the complications of getting local bank support. Almost half of OCBC’s SME customers have expanded beyond their home market.

OCBC holds an SME’s hand from the beginning, helping a founder to register their business with the government and open a business account with the bank. In 2019, OCBC overhauled the process, letting SMEs open a business account instantly online, and combined this with an online incorporation of their business. This change cuts down on what used to be separate, burdensome processes that could be time-consuming. About 93% of accounts opened in December 2019 were through the digital platform.

The bank has been quick to adapt its business under Covid-19 as well, speeding up its transition to digital. SME clients are feeling the squeeze on business, so having an easier time accessing the bank and acquiring loans – an application which can take less than 10 minutes online – will make their lives easier.

OCBC is sensitive to its clients’ needs. The bank realized that many business owners apply for loans between 11pm and 1am – their downtime, when they take a break from running their businesses. OCBC has responded by making sure that its services are accessible at all hours. The bank’s SME digital customer base has grown to 67% in Singapore, and 62% of SME transactions in Singapore are done digitally.

Because of its expertise, OCBC works with close to 140,000 SMEs. Every year, about 40% of newly incorporated SMEs open a business banking account with OCBC. That growth doesn’t show any signs of stopping.