Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Singapore’s longest established bank, fought off stiff competition to win the Euromoney award for Asia’s Best Bank for SMEs 2019.
OCBC, the second-largest financial services group in southeast Asia in terms of assets, is one of the world’s highest-rated banks, with an Aa1 rating from Moody’s. The bank offers a wide array of commercial banking, specialist financial and wealth management services. With more than 570 branches and representative offices located throughout 19 countries and regions, it is uniquely placed to serve its small and medium-sized enterprise customers in its key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China.
The award was presented to recognize both OCBC’s impressive growth and its innovation. Over the last three years, the bank disbursed close to S$1 billion ($0.72 billion) in government-assisted loans to SMEs in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
“Winning this award is not just a validation that we have been serving our SME customers across the region well, but it is also motivation for us to do even better,” says Tan Chor Sen, executive vice president, global commercial banking, OCBC Bank. “Our relentless focus on our customers’ needs has helped us support our customers through their life cycle and has been key to the development of digital solutions that have real impact. We are also very proud of our deep and wide customer franchise in the respective countries that we serve.”
OCBC’s SME customer base is impressive, with more than half of SMEs in Singapore relying on it for their banking needs. Singapore may be its home, but it is also extremely active elsewhere in the region – for example, growing its customer base in Hong Kong with the acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in 2014, and reporting impressive growth in Indonesia and Malaysia. This success reflects the increasing strength and internationalization of its SME customer base and the support the bank provides for its clients’ global needs.
OCBC has been quick to capitalize on the vast potential of the digitalization of the SME banking sector, with 62% of the bank’s SME customers digitally active, generating three times the revenue of the non-digital customers. This figure is set to keep increasing, further enhancing the efficiency of SMEs and ensuring additional growth.
The digital sector is an area that OCBC will use further to consolidate its position and drive growth next year. The bank will continue its e-payments drive, for instance, by continuing to encourage its SME customers to adopt funds-transfer service PayNow for collections and providing them with on-the-ground knowledge and individual support.
“We want to continue being at the forefront of innovation, and to do that, we need to continue putting in the effort to better understand our customers’ digital consumption journey,” says Tan Chor Sen. “This will allow us to give better access to banking services to our SME customers, help them to operate better through beyond-banking services, and by embedding ourselves in the SME ecosystem we can help them buy and sell better.”