According to a recent report, the United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) fintech and innovation accelerator has announced on 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 fintech accelerator, 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 fintech accelerator’s first foray beyond Singapore.
An online survey conducted by the fintech accelerator 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.
The Managing Director of the fintech accelerator noted that the firm is excited to bring to Thailand its experience on bridging ecosystems, helping SMEs to connect and to collaborate with leading technology providers to achieve commercial success.
He added that 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 fintech accelerator 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 fintech accelerator’s extensive networks.
One example can be the case of a travel agency and a technology solution provider. After the completion of the fintech accelerator’s Smart Business Programme Cycle 3, the technology solution provider is today offering an auto-call-back service for the holiday service 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 the holiday services company.
The fintech accelerator 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.
However, upon being admitted into the program, Thai SMEs will receive quality training and guidance on how to most effectively adopt and adapt technological strategies to enable the digital transformation of their businesses. This is particularly pertinent as the vast majority of Thai SMEs seek to revamp their business processes by leveraging modern technology.