United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) fintech and innovation accelerator, The FinLab, announced on Thursday the launch of its Smart Business Transformation Programme, a three-month program for Thailand’s small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The move came 7 months after an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), where The FinLab, UOB Thailand and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) of Thailand will jointly offer Smart Business Transformation Programme in Thailand to help Thai SMEs with digital transformation.
Thailand, the second largest Southeast Asian country, has a high mobile and internet penetration rate; a ready demand for business digitization, making the country an optimal choice for The FinLab’s first foray beyond Singapore.
An online survey conducted by The FinLab with about 800 Thai SMEs revealed that 73% of them were keen on leveraging on technologies to drive future business growth. Entering new markets (54%) and online marketing (51%) are the two most popular business strategies for Thailand’s SMEs.
” We are excited to bring to Thailand our experience on bridging ecosystems, helping SMEs to connect and to collaborate with leading technology providers to achieve commercial success,” says Mr Felix Tan, Managing Director of The FinLab. The firm’s objective is to transfer its knowledge and expertise to a local Thai team that will serve the domestic needs and requirements of the SMEs in Thailand.
Smart Business Transformation Programme
The FinLab claims to have received more than 1,000 applications across industries ranging from SME solutions (19%), mobile payments (12%), lending (5%), data analytics (4%) to other tech solutions (43%) across 48 countries over the past 3 years. It currently has 13 fintech businesses and 11 SMEs in Singapore who have graduated from its accelerator program.
The accelerator program operator also shared that participating SMEs will get exposure to relevant tech solutions; be equipped with the know-how to digitize and scale; access to a group of experts and domain experts, in addition to the support of UOB’s regional brand as a foundational network for SMEs to do businesses in new markets and The FinLab’s extensive networks.
One example can be the case of a travel agency SME EU Holidays and technology solution provider Novocall. After the completion of The FinLab’s Smart Business Programme Cycle 3, Novocall is today offering an auto-callback service for EU Holidays where potential customers can arrange for a call at an appointed time to learn more about tour packages and other travel-related details. And this helps to reduce the sales lead loss rates for EU holidays.
The FinLab is now accepting applications and will kickstart the programme in April 2019.
The selection process for participating Thai SMEs can be quite stringent. Some of the parameters include a minimum annual revenue generation of between THB 25 million – 1 billion (US$760,000 to US$30 million). Business owners themselves have to be willing, open-minded and able to commit to the business digitization journey.
Editor: Ben Jiang