DBS nudges firms to go digital in second round of coronavirus relief measures

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – DBS unveiled a second round of relief measures on Wednesday (Feb 26) to help businesses in Singapore cope amid the virus outbreak, in a move that pushes companies to go digital at the same time.

These measures include financial relief packages and digital initiatives for companies to fast-track their digital adoption to carry out transactions online instead of relying on physical processes.

It is offering a collateral-free digital business loan of up to $50,000, to be disbursed within 24 hours of loan acceptance, which comes with an automatic processing fee waiver.

It has also upped the number of free FAST (Fast and Secure Transfers) transactions to 50 a month from 30 previously, to promote reduced physical handling of cheques.

DBS has also digitalised 11 common trade financing processes to reduce the need to be reliant on physical over-the-counter trade processing – said to be the first bank here to do so.

This will apply immediately to 11 everyday trade financing solutions such as letters of credit, import bills, trust receipts, banker’s guarantees and shipping guarantees.

Customers can now access a one-stop portal through DBS’ Corporate Banking platform IDEAL to upload all their trade financing applications and supporting documents, instead of getting them done at trade counters or bank branches.

They will be able to get instant notifications of their application status through e-mail and SMS. Clients will also be able to retrieve their historical supporting documents online and submit their documentation and applications round the clock instead of depending on the DBS trade counters’ and branch banking operating hours.

From March 2, webinars and customised teach-ins to train customers on how to use and benefit from its new digital capabilities will also be rolled out, said the bank.

Courses in DBS’ SME Academy, its training arm for business owners, will also go digital so that customers can still learn and upskill at their own time.

Ms Tan Su Shan, DBS group head of institutional banking, said: “Both the short-term financing relief packages and the longer-term digital adoption plans that are being made available to clients now will help businesses with their immediate cash flow needs and their longer-term digital transformation efforts which should continue even in the face of economic headwinds.”

The latest round of Covid-19 relief measures are on the back of DBS’ first set of relief measures for corporate clients announced on Feb 13.

It previously said that the bank will provide a six-month principal repayment moratorium for SME property loans. It will also offer an extension of import facilities of up to 60 days to act as immediate cash-flow support for businesses coping with disruptions from the Covid-19 situation.

These initiatives will be available upon application to customers with good repayment histories.

Ensuring consistent cash flow for ongoing operating costs was found to be the top concern among SMEs during this period, according to DBS’ latest poll of about 100 SME clients.

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