UOB has been named the world’s best bank for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2021 by UK-based financial publication Euromoney.
In a statement, the lender said the win came on its swift response to support ASEAN companies at the onset of Covid-19.
In February 2020, it had announced S$3 billion of relief assistance to companies, ahead of any government response. UOB further said it was the first in setting up a dedicated restructuring task force that has been engaging clients to understand their challenges and to provide support in reworking their financial needs.
It has, to date, helped over 20,000 SMEs across the region keep their businesses running. The bank’s latest win follows from other key SME awards bagged, including the best SME bank in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific at the Asian Banker’s Excellence in Retail Financial Services International Awards in June this year.
UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said: “We understand the distinct challenges that SMEs face when navigating the disruptions caused by the pandemic and stand right by our customers to help them weather the crisis. In addition to relief support, we are also helping our SME customers transform their business digitally, seize cross-border opportunities and advance responsibly for long-term growth.”
For example, the bank has enabled more SMEs to use digital payments such as by extending PayNow Corporate contactless payments, which provide convenience to both consumers and merchants, to SMEs.
The number of transactions made through PayNow Corporate among its SME customers grew more than 50 times in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.
UOB also offers SMEs a suite of integrated cloud-based business solutions to boost productivity. Those that have taken up the solutions saw revenue growth of 15-30% between April 2020 and March 2021, it said.
Euromoney editor Louise Bowman noted that UOB has “radically” changed its underwriting engine by applying new alternative data metrics to its risk management analytics.
“And UOB does not just provide innovative digital services to help these small companies financially; it has introduced an SME solution with bundled accounting, payroll and other HR functionalities to enable SMEs to manage the logistical side of operations,” she added.
The Business Times