More than S$500 million of Singapore’s Fortitude Budget will be allocated to supporting the digital transformation of businesses and SMEs, including support for e-payments, adopting digital solutions, and deepening digital capabilities, announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on 26 May.
“Those who are willing to transform will not be left behind,” said Mr Heng, speaking in Parliament.
After noting that the adoption rate of e-payments among businesses saw a dramatic increase since April, with 50,000 more businesses making use of the technology, the decision to allocate these funds to support those who have yet to digitalise was made.
Stallholders in hawker centres, coffee shops, and industrial canteens, which make up a huge part of Singapore’s food industry, will be receiving a bonus of S$300 per month for five months to encourage them to adopt e-payments in a bid to avoid the use of cash.
“They should not be left behind as the whole economy transforms,” Mr Heng added.
The Fortitude Budget also takes into consideration the businesses that are ready to take their basic payment and invoicing functions digital.
“This will be coupled with support to keep their business running and even acquire new revenue lines. We will help businesses to implement safe-management measures and business continuity strategies to adapt to new post-COVID-19 norms,” said Mr Heng.
Additionally, a Digital Resilience bonus will be introduced as well. This is in response to the notedly higher use of food delivery systems by food services and retail establishments this year.
Businesses that are eligible for this Digital Resilience bonus can receive a payout of up to S$5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions, Mr Heng added.
Mr Heng also reiterated the that the F&B and retail sectors will be first in line as they are the most affected by the safe distancing requirements as the economy begins to reopen. The Digital Resilience Bonus will have an additional tier of $5,000 for F&B and retail businesses which also incorporate advanced solutions.
In addition to this, another S$250 million has also been set aside to help businesses digitalise in partnership with digital platform solution providers and industry leaders. One example of this includes the developing of offline-to-online business models to access new domestic revenue streams and international demand.
Mr Heng also noted that digital solutions are now a part of the ‘new normal’. COVID-19 has caused much harm to the economy and people’s lives, but it has also forced them to adapt and accelerate digitalisation.
Singapore, alongside 10 other countries, affirmed its commitment to upholding supply chain connectivity and resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.
“These links will support our businesses to go digital and global. By staying successful, they will create good jobs for our people.”