Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Flash Express launches new campaign to offer sustainable opportunities for PH MSMEs

Manila, Philippines – Courier delivery services Flash Express in the Philippines has launched a local campaign to offer sustainable business opportunities for local MSMEs as well as long-term commitment to its employees.

Through the Flash Express’ ‘Juan Asenso’ Campaign, Flash Express’ partners and customers will have better support in terms of business training and access to the Flash Home Branch System and Flash Express Key Account (KA) System, respectively.

Flash Express announced in August that it has reached a total of 1,000 Flash Home Partners across the country after eight (8) months from its soft launch last December 2021.

Flash Home is another business opportunity opened by Flash Express to enable budding entrepreneurs and MSMEs to generate income at a minimal investment cost. Through Flash Home, Filipinos intending to start their own business could utilise their residential or commercial spaces as drop-off points. 

During the internal launch of Flash Express’ ‘Juan Asenso’ Campaign, Flash Express’ Consultant Alvin Chew, said that one year is not enough to showcase what Flash Express can bring. He reiterated that this year is just the beginning of a more promising future for the company including its stakeholders, customers, clients, business partners, and its employees. 

“Within a span of one year, Flash Express was able to achieve several milestones within the frame of the company’s vision and goals. We were able to expand all over the Philippines in just a couple of months after we kicked off our operations, we were able to disrupt the market, and most importantly, we were able to improve the logistics industry in the country”, Chew said.

Flash Express aims to further improve its overall operations by putting in extensive support to its manpower, expanding business tie-ups, and acquiring more customers to increase more parcel volume by utilising its resources to continuously provide more employment and business opportunities among Filipinos.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Funding Societies, HSBC sign US$50m credit facility to drive SME growth in SEA

Singapore – Small and medium enterprise (SME) digital financing platform Funding Societies has signed a US$50m credit facility with HSBC Singapore to drive SME growth in the Southeast Asia region, especially underserved SMEs.

Through this new facility, the fintech lender will be able to channel the funds via its range of tailored financing solutions across SME segments across all its five markets.

Kelvin Teo, co-founder and group CEO of Funding Societies and Modalku, said, “We’re honoured to receive such a sizable facility from a global bank such as HSBC. This marks a critical milestone for us and is a testament to our credit track record through COVID-19.” 

He added, “HSBC’s foresight, global capabilities and scalable approach further equips us to better satisfy the underserved SME segments in the region. We appreciate HSBC’s confidence in us and are excited about this signing.”

The signing will also enable HSBC to extend its global capabilities by tapping on the underserved segments across the region. Furthermore, HSBC will act as the structuring bank, lender, facility and security agent in providing a flexible, scalable and pan-regional financing solution to support Funding Societies’ business expansion in the region.

Meanwhile, Regina Lee, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Singapore, said, “As a leading SME digital financing platform, Funding Societies is playing an important role in contributing to Southeast Asia’s new economic growth by driving broader financial inclusion and supporting homegrown companies which are the building blocks of these economies. We are thrilled to support Funding Societies as they expand their reach to serving underserved SMEs in the region.”

This announcement comes at the heels of Funding Societies’ most recent acquisition of regional digital payments platform CardUp, subject to regulatory approvals, as part of a series of efforts to diversify its services beyond lending.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Mediacorp, Nanyang Polytechnic partner anew to launch new omnichannel marketing centre for SMEs in SG

Singapore – Media company Mediacorp and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) have strengthened their longstanding history of collaboration through the forging of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), paving the way for the potential establishment of a new centre of excellence for omnichannel marketing to support SMEs. This new centre aims to train SMEs and assist them in planning, creating, and driving omnichannel marketing campaigns by engaging NYP students and tapping on the creative talents and expertise of Mediacorp.

With the new MOU, which will be in place for a period of three years, more NYP students can look forward to an extensive range of programmes to prepare them for prospective careers in the media industry. These include opportunities to work on a wide variety of industry projects, which will reinforce what the students learn in the classroom, help them acquire industry-relevant skills, and allow them to be mentored by seasoned media practitioners from Mediacorp. At the same time, the students develop a portfolio of work which will smoothen their entry into the workforce upon graduation.

Moreover, internships with Mediacorp are also included, where they will be able to apply the knowledge learnt in the classroom, acquire practical skills, and gain real-life exposure to the media industry. And lastly, sharing sessions and career planning, where Mediacorp will be providing student cohorts with customised sharing sessions and learning journeys tailored to the students’ respective specialisations. On a broader level, careers talks and recruitment roadshows by Mediacorp will also offer graduating students career planning advice and information.

The partnership builds on an earlier MOU signed in 2019 to broaden the scope of collaboration to jointly develop a range of initiatives involving more schools, departments, and entities across both organisations, with the aim of nurturing the growth of the creative economy and talent in Singapore. It will also enable NYP’s academic staff to be up to date with the latest industry know-how and practices through staff attachments at Mediacorp.

Tham Loke Kheng, CEO of Mediacorp, said, “Mediacorp is pleased to further build on the solid foundations of our relationship with Nanyang Polytechnic. Through this renewed agreement, we affirm our commitment to leverage our strengths in content creation and production to groom the next generation of media professionals and ready them for exciting and fulfilling careers in this industry.”

Meanwhile, Jeanne Liew, principal and CEO at Nanyang Polytechnic, said that the creative and media industry in Singapore has shown rapid growth in recent years, and businesses are increasingly turning to digital platforms for better reach, and the media landscape is constantly evolving with the latest technology and trends. 

“Through this partnership, we hope to enable our learners to harness their skills and build their portfolios – be it in marketing campaigns or content creation and production for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Possessing such valuable hands-on experience will also allow learners to gain a competitive advantage when they enter the workforce or pursue further studies after graduating,” said Liew. 

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Singlife with Aviva launches cross-industry collaboration for startups, SMEs

Singapore – Local financial services company Singlife with Aviva has launched a cross-industry collaboration called ‘A Better Odyssey’, which will help promising start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore to digitalise and scale their operations.

The collaboration brings together leading international digital solutions partners, including Google, GrabForBusiness, Razer Fintech, ShopBack PayLater, Debia, Exabytes,, Quickdesk, Sleek and Volopay.

Emerging businesses can look forward to exclusive offers such as free credits, preferential pricing for products and services and further networking opportunities. They will also benefit from coverage from Singlife’s Group Personal Accident (GPA) insurance scheme, helping them to safeguard their early-stage growth.

The programme is the first open architecture programme by an insurance company in Singapore, helping to provide a one-stop shop for local start-ups and SMEs to access a wide range of solutions, including business management, operations and payment. 

“With digital transformation continuing to define today’s world and digital requirements becoming more complex and fragmented than ever, it has become increasingly important to establish a unified proposition that can support emerging enterprises and address their pain points.” the company said in a press statement.

Varun Mittal, group head for digital and ecosystems at Singlife with Aviva, said, “We are extremely grateful for the support from our many partners in helping us establish and lead this important ecosystem initiative. Singlife offers consumers a better way to financial freedom and we want to help emerging businesses find a better way to grow. We look forward to this journey as their technology-empowered, financial services partner.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Funding Societies acquires CardUp to boost financial experience for SMEs

Singapore – Southeast Asia’s small-and-medium enterprise (SME) digital financing platform, Funding Societies, has acquired CardUp, Singapore-based payments solution. Through the move, the company will acquire CardUp’s payments capabilities such as card payments to non-card accepting recipients (domestic and cross-border), online payments acceptance, invoice automation tools, and its licenses and integrations with renowned third-party business software. 

The acquisition will see CardUp’s payment services complementing Funding Societies’ lending products, to offer a unified financial experience for SMEs across SEA, enabling SMEs to manage and pay expenses, receive payments, and borrow funds all within one seamless digital platform.

This move comes off the back of Funding Societies’ recent Series C+ raise of US$294m in February 2022, of which US$144m was raised in equity, and its recent investment into Bank Index in Indonesia, the launch of business virtual card Elevate in Singapore, and entry into Vietnam, strengthening the company’s suite of financial services for SMEs.

Kelvin Teo, co-founder and group CEO of Funding Societies-Modalku, shared, “CardUp has a great cultural and strategic fit. Acquiring CardUp enables us to leapfrog and accelerate our market leadership in the regional FinTech space, integrating payments capabilities, enhanced user experience and local licenses to our digital lending experience across key markets. We are excited to work with the CardUp team and are honoured to join forces with them.”

Meanwhile, Nicki Ramsay, founder and CEO of CardUp, noted that they have long recognised Funding Societies as the regional leader in SME financing and a complementary counterpart to their expertise in payments. 

“This acquisition reflects strong strategic and cultural synergy with both parties aligned on the mission to help SMEs improve the way they operate their business and manage cash flow. We are confident that CardUp and our employees are in good hands with Kelvin and his team and are excited to work together on this next chapter of growth,” said Ramsay.

Funding Societies said that once the acquisition is finalised and approved by the regulators, it will be welcoming Ramsay into its management team to lead its payments business while retaining all CardUp’s employees across Asia. CardUp will continue to operate its consumer and business services and maintain its long-standing relationships with card networks, issuers, and media partners. Both will be tapping into strong synergies in the form of complementary talent, technologies, as well as bank and technology partnerships to further empower SMEs in SEA.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Nanyang Polytechnic partners with Microsoft to open centre for AI education for SMEs

Singapore – Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) in Singapore has recently collaborated with Microsoft to open the Centre for Applied AI (C4AI) which aims to empower SMEs with the platform, tools, and expertise to drive AI adoption, as they embark on their digitalisation journey. 

Supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), the collaboration will also nurture AI talent for the workforce through co-certification of full-time diploma courses with NYP for a resilient, digitally inclusive Singapore. C4AI will offer SMEs the opportunity to experiment, conceptualise and deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions, as well as learn from similar AI adoption from other local SMEs in a range of sectors including manufacturing, urban farming, logistics and retail.

The new C4AI aims to play an important role in realising Singapore’s Smart Nation goals. At C4AI, NYP learners will be trained to curate plug-and-play AI solutions on Microsoft Cloud that SMEs can use responsibly and safely. 

“By embracing tech intensity through AI, SMEs can increase efficiency and productivity by reducing repetitive and labour-intensive tasks. Learners are also equipped with the latest AI skills, to become enablers of AI adoption in Singapore,” said the institution. 

NYP will work closely with SMEs to identify their business needs before recommending ready-to-use AI solutions and developing a roadmap for effective AI implementation through Microsoft Cloud solutions including the Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure Container Registry, Azure virtual machines and Microsoft Power BI. 

NYP will also help companies to develop workplace learning practices for AI and train staff to adopt AI solutions sustainably to improve their operations. At C4AI, NYP will also work closely with other AI solution providers such as Tiger Analytics, YITU, and Senquire when needed, to accelerate the AI adoption for SMEs. 

Principal & CEO of NYP Jeanne Liew said that the last two years have delivered various shocks to many industries, hastening the need to constantly innovate and enhance their operations to remain competitive. 

“The Centre for Applied AI will be a key resource centre for companies to leverage expertise from both NYP and Microsoft as they learn, curate, and adopt AI to boost productivity and capabilities in a sustainable manner. The co-certifications from Microsoft and the hands-on experiences for our students here will also equip them with future-ready AI skills to support industry needs,” said Liew. 

Lum Seow Khun, director for the public sector group at Microsoft Singapore, added, “We are committed to building a resilient, and digitally inclusive Singapore, and are grateful for the opportunity to work with NYP and SSG as our nation continues on its digital transformation journey. Through deep robust ecosystem collaborations with institutes of higher learning and the public sector, we are best placed to drive innovation, improve productivity, create economic value, and contribute to our society as we empower every person and organization to achieve more.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Viet MSMEs with B2C e-commerce export value expected to bolster by 2026: report

Vietnam – Vietnamese MSMEs with B2C e-commerce export value are forecast to grow from US$3.3b in 2021 to US$11.1b by 2026, according to a report by the e-commerce exports program Amazon Global Selling.

The newly released report found that if ‘B2C e-commerce’ were an export category, it could be the fifth-largest export category in Vietnam in five years. It also discovered that 88% of surveyed MSMEs in the country feel that e-commerce is critical for their ability to export, while some of them anticipated greater sales growth prospects overseas with 42% more than in their home country with 11%. 

Moreover, the survey has revealed that key challenges can be narrowed down to three categories, namely barriers in cost, regulation, and information and capabilities.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of surveyed local MSMEs yet admitted that they lack information on relevant regulations overseas, while 85% believe they lack the ability to compete with other sellers globally, and 81% admitted that they are unsure of foreign consumers’ demands and preferences. 

Gijae Seong, Amazon Global Selling’s head for Vietnam, noted, “Local businesses of any size can benefit from the report on Vietnam e-commerce export trends to update about export potential, the perspective of local MSMEs, and best practices to achieve that potential.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Ninja Xpress optimises shipping cost accuracy for Indonesian SMEs

Jakarta, Indonesia – To facilitate SMEs and shippers in shipping and streamline the shipping cost, Ninja Xpress uses a dimension weight and scanning (DWS) system technology for more accurate and efficient package counting results. To date, more than 120 DWS machines, which guarantee not only weight accuracy but also package dimensions, have been used at Ninja Xpress sorting centres in the Jakarta, West Java, and Central Java areas, which are included in the top five origins of Ninja Xpress goods shipments throughout 2021.

According to research, as many as 21% of SMEs said that one of the main obstacles they experienced was the high shipping cost. Weight and dimensions become important components that determine the shipping cost.

Andi Djoewarsa, CMO of Ninja Xpress, shared, “With the DWS machine which measures the weight and dimensions of packages accurately and automatically, Ninja Xpress hopes to reduce the counting difference with shippers so that the invoice process is faster, which ultimately makes their cash flow more efficient. Ninja Xpress plans to add more than 200 DWS machines by the end of 2022 to better accommodate the needs of shippers’ volume of packages across Indonesia.”

The DWS machine used by Ninja Xpress can perform weight measurements with an accuracy of up to 50 grams and dimensions of up to 2 cm. The capacity of this machine reaches 50 kg and the maximum dimensions are 70 x 50 x 40 cm.

Additionally, one of the advantages of this machine is the 3D stereo camera feature that can capture the size, weight, dimensions, and image of the package simultaneously to be sent to the database system by scanning the barcode in the package so that it has authentic evidence.

In the near future, Ninja Xpress plans to add hundreds of DWS machines at its sorting centres in East Java and Bali because the area is included in the top five areas of Ninja Xpress package origins. In addition, this machine will also be placed in sorting centres on Sumatra Island including Medan to accommodate the volume of Ninja Xpress packages throughout Indonesia. With this addition, Ninja Xpress hopes that more than 95 per cent of the packages delivered can be accurately weighed and measured.

SME Featured South Asia

Pomelo Pay partners with Sri Lankan telco Dialog Axiata to digitalise payments for SMEs

Singapore – Digital payments company Pomelo Pay (Pomelo), which has its regional HQ in Singapore, has announced a partnership with Dialog Axiata (Dialog), Sri Lanka’s premier telco, to consolidate and provide an enhanced payment platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka, helping them to digitalise and accept payments.

The partnership is in line with Pomelo’s plans to expand its global presence in Asia and Europe and will consolidate about 80,000 SME merchants across Dialog’s multiple platforms, including ezCash into a common payment platform Genie. These merchants will be able to send and receive payments securely and seamlessly via QR codes and track all their transactions within the same payment interface via their mobile or online.

The programme also goes in line with Dialog’s mission to champion financial inclusion for over 1 million businesses in Sri Lanka. SMEs in Sri Lanka account for more than 75% of the total number of enterprises attributing to 45% of employment and 52% of the country’s GDP, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka. 

Vincent Choi, CEO of Pomelo, said, “SMEs in South and Southeast Asia face massive challenges in digitalising and accepting digital payments, and we believe that Pomelo can aid growth and adoption in these markets. We are honoured to collaborate with Dialog in their mission to champion financial inclusion in Sri Lanka by empowering over one million merchants with solutions to digitalise, as the country works towards a cashless society.”

Pomelo believes its entry into Sri Lanka is timely, where the firm’s enhanced payment platform will integrate with the national LANKAQR standard which will allow Dialog to offer its merchants a low-cost and seamless digital payment methods to opt for over traditional Point-of-Sales (POS) terminals. 

in October 2020, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) introduced LANKAQR as a way for merchants, particularly SMEs, to initiate and accept payments using mobile devices.

Commenting on this partnership, Renuka Fernando, group chief digital services officer of Dialog Axiata, added, “We are excited to partner with Pomelo who has expertise in providing seamless and intuitive solutions to merchants globally. As Sri Lanka works towards a cashless society, Dialog is committed to empower and enrich Sri Lankan lives and businesses with accessible, inclusive and convenient digital solutions.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

HitPay to continue building payment gateway service for SEA SMEs through latest funding

Singapore – Small-and-medium enterprise (SME) payments platform HitPay has raised US$15.75m to continue building its payment gateway service for SMEs in Southeast Asia. The funding round was led by Tiger Global and joined by returning investors Global Founders Capital and HOF Capital.

With the capital raised, HitPay will continue to build a leading payments infrastructure platform — with unique SME-friendly features including support for local and international payment methods, best-in-class business software, and integrations with accounting and e-commerce platforms.

HitPay’s range of payment solutions — including local and cross-border payment acceptance and payouts, an online store platform, POS software with card readers, plugins, and payment links — help resource-strapped SMEs improve their payment gateways.

Aditya Haripurkar, CEO and co-founder at HitPay, said, “We are thrilled to have the backing of incredible investors in our mission to empower SMEs with easy, accessible digital payments. SMEs are still underserved, with limited resources and poor access to affordable payment services. With our Series A funding, HitPay can continue to support the unique needs of our merchants, and build the best payment gateway for small businesses.”

HitPay is now available in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the US, Europe, and the UAE — and is poised to serve new markets in Southeast Asia in the coming months.