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Issue No. 93

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AUDITED CIRCULATION: 23,116 ONLINE READERSHIP: 410,000 monthly uniques through Google Analytics The Singapore Business Review is the highest circulating and best read business magazine in Singapore. Our online readership has an average of 215,000 unique viewers, according to Google Analytics. We won the Business Trade Media of the Year Award at the 2017 MPAS Awards. Do reach out to us if you would like us to tell your story to our readers via print & online advertising or events. PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tim Charlton MANAGING EDITOR Paul Howell PRODUCTION EDITOR Janine Ballesteros PRODUCTION TEAM Frances Gagua Beatrix Malesido Djan Magbanua GRAPHIC ARTIST Mark Simon Engracial II ADVERTISING CONTACT Aileen Cruz aileen@charltonmediamail.com Karisse Coderes karisse@charltonmediamail.com Reiniela Hernandez reiniela@charltonmediamail.com ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT accounts@charltonmediamail.com ADVERTISING advertising@charltonmediamail.com EDITORIAL sbr@charltonmedia.com

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t has been a challenging year for businesses around the globe, and Singapore is no exception. Singapore Business Review’s last issue for 2020 delves into the property sector as developers are making an unexpected comeback despite economic pitfalls. Private developers saw their sales rally in the third quarter even though Singapore remains in recession. Read more about the how the industry has been able to stay resilient from page 22. And while the pandemic was expected to focus even more attention on fintech and digital payments, the latest research shows Singaporeans still have a place in their hearts (and wallets) for cash. It now stands behind other developed countries in terms of digital payments penetration - as you’ll read on page 16. Furthermore, we delve into the retail landscape after the circuit breaker. As Singaporean retailers navigate the industry’s headwinds, they will also need to look out for regional trends that are expected to shape the landscape in the future. Head over to page 24 to know what EY ASEAN Consumer Products & Retail Leader Olivier Gergele has to say about the industry. The pandemic did not keep us from lauding the most outstanding firms operating in Singapore at the Singapore Business Review Awards, along with Malaysian companies that have remarkably contributed to transforming industries at the second Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards and Malaysia International Business Awards, all held virtually. Enjoy the issue!

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FIRST 08 Shoppers make a surprising

COVER STORY 28 Residential property sales rally post-

office at One Raffles Quay

circuit breaker despite economic

09 Can energy-hungry data centres ever 20 Retailers begin their fightback

supply chain, procurement ‘mixed’

12 Karana brings sustainable Asian comfort food to Singapore



go green?




14 Sun Life reveals new Singapore

comeback to Singapore malls

10 Pandemic impact on Singapore’s



30 Listed, local, and international firms

ANALYSIS 16 Local shoppers slow down on digital payments, as others accelerate

24 Singapore’s real estate landscape in

12 Qapita to digitise records for startups across SEA, India

Published Quarterly on the Second week of the Month by Charlton Media Group 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building 2 SINGAPORE DECEMBER 2018 2020 SingaporeBUSINESS 069533 REVIEW | MARCH

the next decade

EVENT COVERAGE hailed at the Singapore Business Review Awards

38 Check out the winners of the second Malaysia International Business Awards

38 Find out who won at the first virtual Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards

For the latest business news from Singapore visit the website


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News from sbr.com.sg Daily news from Singapore MOST READ



CPF picks Great Eastern for 5G and government support boost enhanced DPS renewable use for data centres The Central Provident Fund Board Support from the government and (CPF) has chosen Great Eastern as the the introduction of 5G will offer insurer for Dependants’ Protection opportunities for the renewable Scheme (DPS) for members over energy sector. According to a Vertiv the next five years. In the newly report, 21% of data centre managers enhanced scheme starting April 2021, predicted the majority of their power DPS members up to age 60 will be would come from solar and wind covered for a sum assured of $70,000, by 2025, a stark decline from the whilst those above age 60 to 65 years projected 34% in 2014. Meanwhile, old will be covered for a sum assured 15% believed oil would continue to of $55,000. be major energy source.


CapitaLand unveils sustainability master plan CapitaLand has launched its first Sustainability Master Plan that caters to the company’s sustainability targets, strategies and plans for the next decade till 2030. The plan focuses on three key themes to drive the company’s sustainability efforts in the environment, social and governance (ESG) pillars. The group said that it is the first real estate company in Singapore to set a public sustainable finance target.

MOST READ COMMENTARY Opening up banking: Building data decency into financial networks BY MATTHEW DRIVER Before COVID-19, the rise of open banking had already set off a race around the globe to transform the financial services industry. Catalyzed by regulations in Europe and commercially embraced in Asia, open banking allows third-party developers and financial technology companies to access customer information and transaction data held by banks—at the request of the customer—for use in new applications and services.

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What charities in Asia need to thrive post-pandemic BY TESS MACKEAN

Financial Service Sector at risk to Ransomware BY ANTHONY SPITERI AND RICK VANOVER Businesses around the world are Today, the financial services industry adapting to the economic chaos left is an appealing target for cyber in the wake of COVID-19, and Asia’s criminals. Emerging technologies, non-profit sector is no different. Many such as artificial intelligence (AI), charities in Asia are more vulnerable than big data, and machine learning, before the pandemic, with lockdowns paving the way to drive digital and social distancing measures making transformation—especially within it near impossible for charities to the financial services industry in Asia operate as usual. But a push for digital Pacific. In a regulatory outlook study transformation, are some of the ways done by Deloitte, 56% of respondents that charities will be empowered to find agree that AI will transform their their footing and recover. business within three years.







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with Tung Kum Hon, CEO and Executive Director

“When times are challenging, threatening, stressful like COVID-19, is when you learn things about who you are.”

Taking the ESG initiative and pushing for change, wins Geo Energy world class investors and customers SBR: Tell us about your winning project: Taking the ESG initiative and pushing for change, wins Geo Energy world class investors and customers. KH: We saw an increasing importance of sustainability practices within business operations, as worldclass commodity houses becomes more stringent towards sustainable requirements for their partners. We believe that it is also to the benefit of our business to create sustainable growth to enhance our shareholders’ and stakeholders’ value. We have implemented Environmental Management Systems for land reclamation and rehabilitation of our mining areas; we placed emphasis on Social Management Systems to strengthen health and safety to achieve zero fatalities and work injuries; and we adopt the best practices in Corporate Governance, to establish an appropriate culture with zero cases of corruption and bribery. SBR: How does it fit in with your overall corporate agenda? KH: We believe in creating sustainable value through good ESG practices and corporate governance and this project is aligned with our belief of not just being a “coal producing” operation, but building a people business.

Geo Energy Resources Limited www.geocoal.com

SBR: What would you say is your company’s edge against its competition? KH: We are a low cost and resilient coal producer. Our mines are one of the most cash cost competitive compared to our peers, as reported by Wood Mackenzie in their 2017 report. We are in the top 5% cash cost profile, with superior infrastructure, close proximity to port and one of the lowest strip ratios, averaging 3.2x, amongst major producers. We have a low risk operating model with strong business partnerships. Our emphasis on sustainability practices gives us an edge over our competitors in the metals and mining industry, which often has a negative stigma to the impact made on the

environment. We believe our efforts have attracted investors and strong business partnerships. BUMA, our mining contractor bears the execution and capex risk, while life-of-mine offtake contracts with world-class partners like Macquarie Bank and Trafigura reduces volume risks and provides cash flow stability. SBR: What makes the SGX a preferred listing venue for Geo Energy? KH: Singapore’s thriving capital markets serve not only a vibrant domestic economy, but also a much wider Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world. Its strategic location and superior infrastructure enable easy access to global markets. It is also Asia’s largest foreign exchange trading centre and active commodities trading centre. There is strong corporate governance and transparency standards for SGX listed companies, which is in line with our belief to grow, improve and remain accountable to our stakeholders and shareholders. SBR: Are there any future plans for Geo Energy that you can share? KH: We continue to be in discussions to explore potential acquisitions, joint ventures and cooperation to build a sustainable business for the future. Meanwhile, we reinforce our risk management by de-leveraging and optimising our existing operations through costs reduction. SBR: What does it mean to you and your team to have won an SBR Listed Companies Award? KH: It is a recognition of the team’s hard work towards achieving the Group’s sustainability goals and testament to the focus the Group has placed on sustainability, especially so in the coal and energy industries we are in. It is also a recognition of our contribution to the business and trade flow in Singapore. Macquarie and Trafigura, as key customers of the Group, contributed significantly to our revenue of US$249.1 million in 2019 and US$72.8 million for the first half of 2020. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | DECEMBER 2020



Properties in the CapitaMall Trust portfolio (including Funan) have maintained a 98% occupancy rate through 2020.

Shoppers make a surprising comeback to Singapore malls


he circuit-breaker lockdown has shown up a few interesting things about the psyche of the average Singaporean shopper, as evidenced by the results from CapitaMall Trust (CMT), the largest operator of malls in the country. Sure, everyone has been staying in and ordering food online, but when it comes to actual shopping we now know that everyone has been most busy either decorating their home, or buying some new active wear to enjoy those brief moments of solitary recreation. These (Home Furnishings and Sporting Goods) were the two broad categories that saw the biggest rises in consumer activity after the circuitbreaker restrictions were lifted. Singaporean shoppers also appear to have been avoiding “window shopping”, also known as the art of aimlessly wandering around malls. Foot traffic to malls dropped down 40% year-on-year in Q3. But what’s interesting is those that went to malls were actually purchasing much more, as evidenced by sales declining far less than the number of visitors at just 11%. Which is likely to be 8


good news for the mall operator over the long term, since it had given large rent cuts to tenants, and also agreements to take a smaller percentage of sales just to keep them in the malls. For example, in the same quarter that tenants’ sales declined by just 11%, CMT’s gross revenue dipped 25.3%, according to OCBC Research. This was driven largely by rental waivers of S$29.5m granted to tenants, coupled with lower gross turnover rental.

The same thing can be seen through retail sales data, which shows A stark preference for brick and mortar shopping (away from e-commerce) since the circuit breaker restrictions have been lifted. “Online sales as a proportion of total retail sales (in August) was almost unchanged from the previous month at 10.9%, which is significantly lower than the 24.4% seen during the circuit breaker month of May,” OCBC Research has advised, adding that this reflects the continued importance of brick and mortar retail, especially in suburban locations of Singapore. But that is not to say e-commerce has no upward room to move in Singapore. OCBC Research has urged retailers to maintain multiple sales channels for the new normal business environment. “The structural shift towards stronger e-commerce penetration rates as compared to pre-Covid-19 times (average of 5.5% from 2018-19) is here to stay and retailers and landlords will have to continue their omni-channel strategies to stay relevant.” Some mall tenants have also expressed interest to expand, although this would likely happen only in late 2021 or 2022. “We expect rental waivers to moderate ahead, as these would be granted on a more targeted basis,” OCBC Research has advised. This all shows that Singapore’s retail scene has made a strong comeback. In fact the mall operator went into the circuit breaker offering more flexible lease structures such as accepting a lower first-year base rents with step-ups in subsequent years. As a result, they now have 98% occupancy, and would be the envy of any hotelier in this environment.

CapitaMall Trust: Portfolio Occupancy Trend

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut Source: REIT Manager; OCBC Research laoreet dolore magna aliquam.”


Singapore’s growing data centre industry is also one of its biggest energy users.

Can energy-hungry data centres ever become fully sustainable?


ingapore’s data centre industry has been rapidly expanding in recent years, as hyperscale cloud firms take advantage of the stable and secure environment afforded by the city state. But with data centres accounting for as much as 1.5% of global energy use, many are now questioning the sustainability credentials of the local industry. A recent report by infrastructure

consultancy Vertiv has only added (nonrenewable) fuel to the fire. It surveyed data centre managers across Singapore, and found that by 2025, only 21% of the energy used to power data centres would come from renewable energy sources including solar and wind. This might sound like a positive step—given the current mix is predominantly fossil fuels—but it represents a sharp drop in

expectations from the same research that was undertaken in 2014. Back then, data centre managers had predicted 34% of data centre power would be renewable by 2025. Vertiv’s Singapore country manager Hitesh Prajapati views this a shift to more realistic expectations. “The reality check on the limited adoption of solar in the industry and lack of viable wind energy options may have been the main driver that tempered the optimism,” he said. But while little change is expected by 2025, the introduction of 5G connectivity in Singapore at around that time could provide a new surge in renewable energy use soon after. One of the widely anticipated uses of 5G is its application in a “smart grid”, which can monitor the flow of power at different points and modulate power generation and distribution to match various loads in real time. “With this connectivity, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, government services and other functions can be equipped with smart capabilities,” Prajapati said. “Combined with various distributed edge data centres, the 5G network has the potential to enable providers to deliver services up to the last mile without any drop in quality or latency.”

Singapore’s startup funding stands strong amidst pandemic


echnology startups in Singapore have registered strong growth in funding in 2017 and 2018 to become the country’s fastest growing segment, reports PwC. Singapore’s start-up funding jumped to a record $10.1b (US$7.3b) in 2018, and amore muted $6.5b (US$4.75b) in 2019. The current year also proves to be resilient, for despite the pandemic, the first half of 2020 saw tech start-ups raise $3.3b (US$2.4b). With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fundraising ecosystem, there are significant opportunities in Singapore, with solid and innovative startups for investors to consider such as in sectors like health & biotech, fintech, agri-food tech and artificial intelligence, according to PwC. The coronavirus pandemic will likely accelerate or increase interest in the health and biotech sectors, which have seen exceptional performance in H1 with $342m (US$250m), already surpassing 2019 figures at $230m (US$168m). This is expected to continue with growing interest in solutions such as telemedicine, home-care, and biodegradable plastics.

The pandemic to accelerate interest in health and biotech sectors

With Singapore’s status as an ASEAN financial hub, fintech continues to be the center of the startup ecosystem, with investments in the sector almost doubling between $377m (US$275m) in 2017 and $686m (US$501m) in 2019. The growth is largely driven by fintech firms in payments, insurtech and credit. In 2017, the bulk of tech startup funding was invested during the seed stage, and has seen growth in funding across later stages. In H1, the

Series A funding has already reached $586m (US$428m), close to 70% of 2019. Funding stages beyond the series also saw tremendous growth, with over 45% to 55% per year in Series B and C between 2017 and 2019, signifying a strong foundation on the developing ecosystem. However, Series B and C funding for H1 stood at $634m (US$463m) indicating reduced focus across these stages of funding amidst COVID-19. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | DECEMBER 2020


FIRST Singapore CEOs worry about supply chain risk, territorialism

Over 70% of bosses have reevaluated their purpose.


he CEOs of Singaporean companies are most concerned about supply chain risk and a return to territorialism as the top threats to their organisations’ growth over the next three years, according to a KPMG report. Given the country’s open economy, supply chain risk (20%) and territorialism (16%) rank as the two top threats to businesses whereas in the global environment, talent risk took first place. Almost three-fourths (72%) of CEOs in the Lion City say that they re-evaluated their company’s purpose in order to better address the evolving needs of their stakeholders whilst 80% want to lock in the climate change gains they have made during this period. They have also become more conservative than CEOs globally, with less than a quarter (24%) expecting to see their company’s earnings grow at more than 2.5% yearly over the next three years. On the other hand, they have also heavily invested in technology during the lockdown, with seven in 10 (72%) seeing their new digital business models accelerate during the pandemic. The biggest advancements have been in the digitisation of operations and the creation of a next-generation operating model, where 56% say that progress has put them years ahead of where they would have expected to be right now. Almost two-thirds (64%) are likely to put more capital investment into technology than people. In addition, 72% stated that they have had to re-evaluate their organisations’ purpose as a result of the pandemic, and 80% saying they feel a stronger emotional connection to their organisations’ purpose since the crisis began. Mitigating climate risks has also evolved into a personal responsibility as 60% feel that their ability to manage climate-related risks will impact their role in the organisation, ultimately determining whether they keep their jobs over the next five years. This development has put ESG near the top of the agenda for CEOs in Singapore and 72% of them have shifted their focus towards the social component of ESG. 10


Pandemic impact on Singapore’s supply chain, procurement ‘mixed’ critical, the report noted. For the supply chain, this has translated to a demand for knowledge of softwares such as SAP and JDA. Data analytics is also in high demand, as well as supply chain optimisation competencies like Lean Six Sigma certifications and KAIZEN are rising as the manufacturing industry Digital demand is driving hiring opportunities. zeroes in on efficiency, Hays said. ingapore has seen a mixed impact “This is especially true in Singapore, of the pandemic towards the supply where higher costs of doing business chain and procurement amidst place many manufacturers at a market recovery, as some sectors have competitive disadvantage with global become cautious whilst others have counterparts in places like China, India, experienced significant boom, according and Indonesia.” to a Hays report. Edge computing, analytics and Overall, as firms resume work, Internet of Things (IoT) are also gaining demand for goods and services has traction, as big data analytics play gradually boomed alongside accelerated a key role in boosting supply chain digital transformation, resulting in performance whilst edge computing more hiring opportunities. As revealed coincides with the spread of IoT devices. by Hays’ analysis, roles that were “Candidates would be more likely to formerly placed on hold have resumed set themselves apart in a competitive hiring, but most continue to be on a market by upskilling themselves and replacement basis. by getting certified in these areas,” Digital skills have been increasingly according to Hays.


Singapore property investment activity returns to expansion mode

Investment sales amounted to $4.4b in Q3.


nvestment activity in Singapore’s property sector picked up Q3 following the easing of circuit breaker measures and on the back of foreign investor interest, says Knight Frank. Overall investment sales amounted to $4.4b in total sales for the third quarter—a 55.1% decline compared with the $9.9m recorded in Q3 2019. Of these, more than half of the sales came from the commercial sector. Significant commercial property deals include the 50% stake sale of Frasers Property’s Northpoint City to TCG Group for $550m, as well as the sale of Tuan Sing Holdings for $500m. All top five transactions for the quarter were from the commercial property sector and

totaled $2.305b, or 52.4% of total investments across all sectors. Whilst there remains substantial interest for commercial properties, especially in the Central Business District (CBD) region with the potential of existing buildings tapping into the CBD Incentive Scheme, there is limited saleable stock available on the market, noted Knight Frank. Meanwhile, demand for the residential property sector also remained resilient, particularly in the good class bungalow segment. A string of deals amounting to $128.3m in Q3 came close to the amount recorded in the first half of the year, at $166.4m. The industrial sector also chalked up an increase in investment sales, registering a total of $406.6m. A warehouse at 7 Bulim Street sold for $129.6m and a business park development at 26A Ayer Rajah Crescent sold for $125m. No transactions were completed in the public sector in Q3, with no sites sold under the Government Land Sales Programme.

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Blair Crichton

relying on commodity crops in processed forms (soy, pea, and wheat),” Crichton said. The start-up also turns meat into indulgent ready-to-cook dim sum products, such as dumplings and char siu baos, creating the comfort foods that consumers know and love. Karana uses a proprietary mechanical process to bring out the natural meat-like texture of their first ingredient without requiring harsh chemicals or heavy processing. Dan Riegler Karana managed to raise $2.3m (US$1.7m) in seed funding last July. As with any earlystage company, the biggest challenges were in convincing investors to take a risk, yet they’ve managed to gain traction with investors. Some of Karana’s investors include Henry in every bite,” said Blair Crichton, CEO and Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin Corp; Big co-founder of Karana, in an interview with Idea Ventures; Glocalink Singapore; and Singapore Business Review. Hong Kong-based F&B entrepreneurs, With a focus on leveraging what nature has Kevin Poon and Gerald Li, and a board level given and enhancing these amazing biodiverse FMCG Executive. ingredients to create delicious products for Aside from their product launch in Q1 2021, Asian applications, Karana started with Asia top Karana plans to launch products using other consumption: pork. biodiverse regional ingredients that will enable “Our first ingredient is the jackfruit that us to expand beyond pork. “We also have plans we transform into a whole-plant pork, in the to launch in other markets in the region and future we will launch products using other we’re already speaking to strategic partners in regional ingredients that will enable us to other Asian markets. We’d love to connect with expand beyond pork. This is a real differentiator anyone who is interested in partnering with us from other companies that are by-and-large as we expand,” added Crichton.

Karana brings sustainable Asian comfort food to Singapore


earching for healthy and sustainable food in today’s time would require tons of research on what you should buy and where you can get it. Singapore-based start-up Karana makes deliciously indulgent Asian comfort food from whole-plant ingredients, proving that eating in a healthier and more sustainable way doesn’t mean sacrificing or compromising on what we know and love. “To do this, we are taking ordinary, underappreciated plants and transforming them into meat from whole-plants, starting with a whole-plant based pork made from jackfruit. It’s taste, health, and sustainability

Qapita to digitise records for startups across SEA, India


f records are systematically digitised today, then transactions can be digitised in the future. According to equity management startup Qapita, without a digital system to record ownership and transaction details, there’s no single source of truth for company stakeholders to refer to in critical decision-making. Qapita digitises the record systems for equity ownership, or cap tables, managed on Excel. Their platform also serves as a one-stop repository of all legal documents relating to equity such as the relevant filings, share certificates, shareholder agreements, and more. Furthermore, Qapita uses a software-based approach to “succinctly, accurately, continuously, and systematically” communicate Employee Share Option Plans (ESOPs) to each employee. In addition, with the cap table and ESOPs digitised, more significant liquidity solutions will be created in the future. “We are essentially a SaaS business model where the core self-serve services would be on a subscription basis, and additional features would require a premium, depending on both usage as well as functionalities,” Qapita said in an interview with Singapore Business Review magazine. Qapita has raised $2.44m (US1.8m) in seed funding in September, led by Vulcan Capital and other prominent early-stage investors such as 12


Vamsee Mohan (left), Ravi Ravulaparthi, and Lakshman Gupta.

Alto Partners Multi Family Office, Atin Kukreja (CEO, Rippledot Capital), Koh Boon Hwee, K3 Ventures, KDV Holdings, Mission Holdings, and several NorthStar Group Partners including Patrick Walujo. With a combined funding currently at around $3m, Qapita is focused on strengthening its team, accelerating product development, and building its client base. Equipped with years of experience in investment banking, investments, and software

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Sun Life reveals a versatile new office space at One Raffles Quay The new office features one-of-a-kind amenities, and aims to add an element of “fun” to work.


anadian financial services company Sun Life opened its Singapore branch office in August, located in One Raffles Quay. Sun Life’s new office is designed to be an open, agile workplace that facilitates inspiration and collaboration, whilst having fun at the same time. The office features a communal area which can be configured for everything from Town Hall meetings to group wellness activities. It also has a lounge room which provides a refreshing environment for employees, facilitating casual collisions and collaborative exchanges of ideas.

It is designed to facilitate inspiration and collaboration amongst employees

The area sets the tone of the day with a concave inviting entrance and the sun dial—a signature design element on the ceiling top of the communal area. Mimicking the shadow hand of a sundial, the eye-catching design projects the power of the sun and a seamless spatial experience radiating from the central communal area. This is where town hall events and team meetings happen, and can fit up to 50 pax in a town hall setting. The space also features a coffee machine and movable height-adjustable workstations to enhance the way they work, as employees can enjoy greater agility through an open working atmosphere.


1 Belinda Au, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada Singapore Branch

2 A one-of-a-kind, flexible activity area featuring a lounge room for employees


3 3 Modern yet cozy office cafe connecting people over drinks

4 4


Relaxing, movable, and height-adjustable workstations to enhance the way employees work

5 The activity area when transformed for wellness events, providing a refreshing environment for employees






Singapore is not yet “all in” on non-cash payments

Local shoppers slow down on digital payments, as others accelerate The pandemic has seen Singaporeans reduce their reliance on cash, but not by as much as the fintech community would have predicted.


ingaporeans still love their cash, despite efforts to use digital payments over the course of the pandemic, a survey by McKinsey has shown. In fact, far from being a digital trailblazer, the move towards a cashless society seems to have hit some relative roadblocks in Singapore, as evidenced by a slower adoption rate for digital payments compared to global peers and even neighbouring Malaysia. In 2010, 41% of transactions in Singapore were already digital or non-cash, and by 2020 this had risen to 61%, which on the face of it looks like an impressive transition. Yet, the United States moved from 49% to 78% over the same period, and even neighbouring Malaysia moved its low base of 7% to 28%. So why is cash so sticky in Singapore, when the technology exists to circumvent its use and the 16


Corona cash aversion should have killed it off? Perhaps one reason could be that Singapore’s main non-cash mobile payment option, GrabPay, has yet to see widespread use in the city-state. Globally in retail, the impact of Corona was not a sustained, decline but much more a shift in consumer buying behaviour. In the first six months of the year, McKlnsey noted consumers spent $347 billion online with US retailers, up 30% from the same period in 2019—corresponding to six times the annualised 2019 growth rate of online retail. Amazon, which operates in Singapore, showed its second quarter global sales grew 40% boosted in particular by the tripling of grocery sales. And In Europe, differences between age groups eroded as many consumers (in particular, older shoppers) turned

Among developed economies, Singapore has been relatively slow to reduce its dependence on cash transactions.

to online shopping for the first time. Consequently, all forms of electronic peer-to-peer and consumer-to-business payments have been expanded. In many regions, this has mostly benefited debit cards, which typically align with lower-value transactions and are a logical cash substitute for contact-averse consumers. In Asia, however, alternative payments, such as instant and mobile payments, have grown, while credit cards have retained their strong incumbent position. Perhaps another reason why cash has not been as impacted in Singapore as other parts of the world, is that the banks have kept ther branches open and ATM’s working. In contrast, may other countries have seen branches shut “temporarily” due to COVID-19. ATM usage fell by 47% in April, 2020 in India, while

ANALYSIS: PAYMENTS Singaporean banks have maintained their branch and ATM networks in the face of the pandemic

Growth rate of electronic transactions

Source: BCA, McKinsey

the United Kingdom experienced 46% declines per month on average from March to July, 2020. In Australia, the top four banks have removed 2,150 ATM terminals and closed 175 bank branches since June 4. McKinsey expects that by the end of 2020, there will be a shift of four to five percentage points in the share of global payment transactions

We believe a

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executed via cash. “This is equivalent to four to five times the annual decrease in cash usage observed over the last few years”. Reet Chaudhuri, leader of McKinsey’s Asia Payments Practice and report author said: “COVID-19 has led to changes in payment preference and patterns in Asia at an unimaginable speed. Players in

the industry need to recognise these changes and adapt quickly to stay relevant, as well as to capture growth opportunities. Digitalisation is going to play a huge role in this process and support from governments in Asia is going to be vital in ensuring a smooth transition.” The firm’s analysis of 2020 paints a contrast between the first and second halves of the year—namely, an estimated 22% payments revenue decline in the first half will be softened somewhat by stronger performance in the second half. “Still, we expect full-year 2020 global payments revenue to be roughly 7% lower than it was in 2019—a $140-billion decline roughly equal to recent years’ annual gains, and 11% to 13%t below our prepandemic projection. “Beyond this, in some countries and segments, the likely sustained increase in digital penetration could result in a recovery of revenue pools to levels matching pre-COVID-19 expectations for 2021.”

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SP Jain launches proprietary ELO technology at its Singapore campus With the pandemic bringing everything to a standstill, universities all over the world are racing to adapt their programs and classes to online alternatives.

ELO revolutionizes online learning by bringing the dynamism and engagement of a virtual classroom online

ELO is a high-end online learning system that replicates a live classroom down to its last detail


n this landscape, SP Jain School of Global Management, an Australian business school, has emerged as a game-changer, by implementing a unique proprietary Engaged Learning Online (ELO) technology, developed in anticipation of the need for high quality and customized online education. ELO is a one-of-a-kind virtual learning platform that revolutionizes online learning by bringing the dynamism and engagement of a virtual classroom online, and in real time. The platform is currently used by the Executive MBA (EMBA) students of the school, and is also being accessed in its Singapore campus. Currently, only a handful of top business schools in the world offer such immersive online experiences to their students, with SP Jain being the only business school within the Asia Pacific to do so. The ELO platform adopts a more proactive approach to addressing the wide gaps left by online education in student engagement and motivation. Using some of today’s most cutting-edge learning technologies, ELO has been able to bring to life an actual classroom-like experience to the homes and workspaces of the students. 18


High-end online learning ELO is a high-end online learning system that replicates a live classroom down to its last detail. The ELO studio is set up with a robotic tracking camera for the faculty, allowing them to move freely, maintain eye contact with students, respond to their visual cues, moderate discussions and more, all in real-time. Faculty and students are able to engage in one-on-one conversations as if they were sitting side-by-side. This produces a great opportunity for students even in the midst of the pandemic, to learn and

grow, while being confined in the safety of their homes. SP Jain’s ELO technology was launched in late 2018, with the objective of making its internationally recognised MBA program accessible to working professionals who wouldn’t have the flexibility of pursuing an on-campus course. The technology makes it possible for students to follow a customised learning path, which can include flexibility to interchange between face-to-face and online modes of learning. Many students strongly prefer pursuing the course via a more traditional face-to-face learning module, while others may prefer the fully online EMBA, and yet others who may prefer a combination of both. The ELO technology is advantageous to students as they do not necessarily have to visit the campus to attend; they can log in from any corner of the world and get all the benefits of an on-campus education, including one-on-one discussions and group engagement with faculty and peers. The student’s response to this technology has also been very positive. Following its success with the EMBA program, SP Jain plans to expand its ELO offering to include executive education programs, as well as short courses for working professionals across the globe. The school also aims for its students from all over the world to be able to utilise this technology.

SP Jain is the only business school in APAC to provide immersive online learning to students




Regional trends are expected to shape the retail landscape in the future

Retailers begin their fightback Circumstances may be unprecedented, but the industry has endured the pandemic-related restrictions.


onths into the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail landscape of Singapore has seen huge changes. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, the wholesale and retail trade sector shrank by 8.2% YoY in Q2, worsening from the 5.6% decline in the first quarter. Retail sales were also down by 8.5% YoY in July, which was the first full month of physical operations after the circuit breaker. Due to strong e-commerce and e-commerce sales, experiential retail shopping, as well as the easing of circuit breaker restrictions, the industry has slowly recovered along with the economy. In a latest report, Euromonitor forecasts a $28.82m overall retail sales for Singapore in year 2020. However, as Singaporean retailers navigate the industry’s headwinds, they will also need to look out for regional trends that are expected to shape the landscape in the future, according to EY Asean Consumer 20


Products & Retail Leader, Olivier Gergele in an interview with Singapore Business Review. “There will be an increasing shift to online platforms as consumers are spending more time at home even after restrictions have lifted— online penetration rates in the region are expected to be around 15-20% in some countries by 2025.” Another change will be the shift in product mix, as consumers are purchasing more essentials online, delaying splurge-spending and favoring value for money and trusted brands, and the emergence of new business models— called “dark kitchens” or “cloud kitchens”—where retailers capitalise on the demand for food delivery services, whilst saving costs that are otherwise incurred from having dine-in restaurants. Challenges to retailers Since retail revenues have dipped due to the lack of tourists and reduced consumer spending

Olivier Gergele

amidst the economic downturn, retailers have been reducing their overhead costs and back-office costs, implementing in-store cost reduction and store portfolio rationalisation, according to an EY poll of Singapore and SEA retailers conducted in May. “Many shared that they have also been looking for short-term cash relief by turning to working capital optimisation, rental negotiations and profit-sharing readjustments,” said Gergele. To survive, retailers do not just need to optimise their cost management strategies, they will also have to boost revenues by riding on the wave of online retail growth. However, businesses need to expand their focus beyond driving online sales numbers, and to look at developing an omnichannel strategy. “Even as retailers are looking to manage their working capital and revenue, they have had to demonstrate agility in facing

SECTOR REPORT: RETAIL In the longerterm, retailers will need to successfully build out digital customer journeys

Contactless methods for both payment and delivery

disruptions in their supply chain and demand surges. To meet the spike in demand, some players managed to operationalise idle equipment in just two weeks when the overall process would typically take months,” he added. Additionally, the implementation of temperature controls at store entrances; provision of hydroalcoholic gel in outlets; usage of contactless methods for both payment and delivery approaches; development of remote assistance methods in customer service and maintenance; and adoption of drivethrough facilities outside mass retail helped generate overall customer value and good will. However, 50% of consumers expect their lives to change significantly in the long-term, according to the EY Future Consumer Index. As a result of these changing sentiments, new consumer segments are emerging. To deliver against these heightened expectations, retailers will need to continue creating transparency to secure consumer trust, as well as reshape their products, services, and experiences to build a portfolio relevant to the future consumer. “In the medium-term, retailers should prioritise value-based products, where private labels, bulk pack sizes and higher promotional offers, would be attractive to the cost-conscious consumer,” Gergele said. “In the longer-term, retailers will need to successfully build out digital customer journeys.”

Retailers will need to assess and invest in new technologies such as AI to enable personalisation, assortment management, pricing, and promotion management, as well as in back-end digital investments that will enable them to deliver on their front-end investments,whilst managing costs, such as demand prediction algorithms, digital order management, automated inventory management, and operations. Thriving amidst a modest outlook Driving sustainable growth in an environment where consumers are evolving and new business models are emerging will require retailers to continue addressing challenges, including continuously expanding their offerings, as well as driving an omnichannel strategy to deliver an improved customer experience. Whilst some retailers have been

able to fill in the supply and demand gaps in the past few months, they need to shift from a reactive to proactive approach in optimising their supply chain. Retailers should plan a mix of local and overseas suppliers to diversify their supplier base and build supply chain resilience. Those who can institute strong demand planning will be able to better manage demand fluctuations. Another important thing is to promote innovative thinking among employees, Gergele said, noting that since changes take place quickly, having an agile organisation with a less hierarchical culture will enable quick decision-making, thereby improving business operations. For companies with adequate resources, now is the right time to consider acquiring companies available at distressed valuations. Furthermore, the consolidation of retail real estate space is expected to continue as consumers get comfortable with shopping online and retailers reevaluate their store performance and adopt a more prudent approach to leasing physical shopfronts. According to Gergele, consumers still like to visualise, try on, and feel products before purchasing them, so as offline brands move into the digital space, and e-commerce brands buy physical stores, novel takes on retail where stores are laced with digital touchpoints should be seen.

Retailers should prioritise value-based products which would be attractive to consumers



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Population size, trends, and technology will shape the future of Singapore real estate

Real estate markets set to evolve dramatically over the next 10 years CBRE outlines five major structural changes that will shape the industry’s (and the economy’s) future.


espite physical and resource constraints, Singapore has distinguished itself with its ability to envisage and navigate multiple headwinds. In the next 30 years, the landscape, particularly the real estate landscape, will change with plans that will affect transport, infrastructure network and recently, the unveiling of Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan 2019 (DMP 2019), according to a CBRE’s Singapore Real Estate Report 2030. Population size, trends, and technology are just one of the few factors that will shape the future landscape of Singapore as they determine the amount of investment, infrastructure and real estate required to maintain an acceptable standard of living. Thus, CBRE notes that it is critical for Singapore to address its demographic challenges to stay 24


economically vibrant and remain an attractive living destination. The population equation The average Singaporean household continues to shrink from 2009 to 2018. Singstat reported that there were 185,400 households with just one person in 2018, 69% more as compared to 10 years ago. Furthermore, the general marriage rate is falling from 67 per 1,000 unmarried females aged 15 to 49 years old in 1980 to 47 per 1,000 unmarried females in 2018. Couples without children also grew by 43%, whilst single parent households rose by 28%. This resulted in smaller household sizes in an average Singaporean family that then contributed to a decrease in home size for private housing. However, this does not translate to smaller living spaces in the future. The living space per person has not declined but remained at 28 sqm

It is critical for Singapore to address its demographic challenges to stay economically vibrant

per person for the past two decades due to smaller households as well as household appliances getting more compact that helped optimise space. The government still projects, despite smaller families, that the total population would grow between 6.5 to 6.9 million by 2030.Thus, a demand for more private housing would increase. The CBRE estimates Singapore to need at least 300,000 more housing units by 2030. To reach this target, Singapore has plans to create new housing precincts which could yield around 67,500 housing units collectively. Singapore’s changing infrastructure As an island city-state, innovative means of space creation must be explored in order to meet demands and requirements for land. Singapore has been reclaiming land for decades, but this is increasingly unviable. As a result, the government is looking

ANALYSIS: REAL ESTATE Average energy use intensity in Singapore office buildings

Source: BCA, CBRE Research

into the development of more underground space. CBRE projects that a large part of Singapore will soon be underground by 2030, a move duly in part because available land for new development is becoming scarce. Another change that continues to affect Singapore’s infrastructure is decentralisation due to the need for sustainable urban development. Decentralised office stock has been slowly, but gradually rising since 1998 up to 2018. Trend changes in real estate Digital technology has facilitated disintermediation with a preference for on demand access over ownership. The continued progress of technology and its integration in the day-to-day lives of Singaporeans is also a major factor in upcoming changes in real estate. This has led to the rise and wider acceptance of the sharing economy, which will result in an asset light society. Against that backdrop, there will likely be a reduction in demand for housing and parking spaces for vehicles, and the proportion of coworking spaces in the office market may also increase. The rise of co-living will reduce the demand for housing. Co-living has the added bonus of having furnished spaces, flexible lease terms, and proximity to workplaces that appeal to the younger generation. Some companies even claim to have algorithms set up to match housemates. Flexible working space is also

on the rise with two in five office buildings have been tracked to have a flexible office component, according to CBRE research. As of third quarter of 2019, privately owned co-working operators accounted for 37% of market share versus 44% of privately owned serviced office operators. The sustainability agenda Challenges in limited resources and climate change is increasing the need for sustainability that will shape Singapore’s future real estate landscape. With the green building master plans and incentives such as the bonus gross floor area (GFA) concessionary scheme, developers are riding the sustainability bandwagon. Tenants with a strong mandate for sustainability are also driven by this agenda. Multinational corporations are opting to locate their operations in quality office or retail spaces within green buildings. Green leases, where both landlords and tenants adopt eco-friendly practices, will be prevalent in 2030. Landlords and tenants who are striving to lower energy consumption are also increasing, resulting in more super low energy (SLE) buildings in the future. What pushes the sustainability agenda securely for Singapore’s future is the progress in smart technology with developers leveraging on an integrated building energy management system or adopting alternative energy sources to lower their energy consumption levels. Also part of the agenda is the state’s

The continued progress of technology is a major factor in upcoming changes in real estate

vision of ‘30-by-30’: to produce 30% of food locally by 2030. Companies are now exploring underused and alternative spaces as a viable option to house urban farms. Technological changes Progress in smart technology doesn’t just help with Singapore’s vision for a sustainable future but it also affects the real estate landscape as a whole. Workplace function would change as Singapore, who tops the APAC region for cloud readiness and capabilities according to the Cloud Readiness Index, adopts cloud technologies. Different sectors will soon use big data to identify markers they can work with. In residential, it might be used for energy efficiency. In retail, store design, catchment, and logistics are captured and influenced by data that enables retailers to achieve higher efficiency and turnover. More data means more challenges for data centers to keep up but with innovations of stronger networks like 5G data will increasingly be propagated from data centres and the cloud into mobile devices increasing the need for real time decision-making that might soon push artificial intelligence (AI) into everyday lives. With all these factors, leveraging data and technology, the birth of a smart city that will deliver services and improve the well-being of citizens whilst staying sustainable, is well underway. Pressing issues like greying populations, overcrowding, and environmental degradation may be solved by smart cities. Plans are constantly in the works to ensure Singapore’s continued success and prosperity; the government’s tireless efforts to renew the economy involve urban planning, transforming existing industries, and developing new growth areas. Whilst real estate is supposedly monolithic and able to stand the test of time, its participants do not have this luxury. Aside from staying on top of the major structural changes, they have to remain adaptable and nimble as 2030 approaches, according to CBRE . SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | DECEMBER 2020


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Singaporean property developers are making an unexpected comeback as sales rally in Q3

Residential property sales rally postcircuit breaker despite economic fallout New home sales are on the rise, even though Singapore remains in recession.


t has been a challenging year for businesses around the globe, and Singapore is no exception, with the economy expected to remain in recession for the whole year. But property developers in the Lion City are making an unexpected comeback as demand failed to falter despite the onslaught of economic pitfalls. Private developers saw their sales rally in the third quarter immediately following the end of the circuit breaker period. New sales in the non-landed private residential market rose to a fevered pitch and reached 1,329 units in September— its highest on record since July 2018, before the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) went into effect. The sales volumes exceeded every single monthly sales volume recorded in 2019. It is also 4.8% higher than sales in September 2019—ironic that a month caught 28


in the middle of a pandemic-led recession should exceed that of a fairly normal month a year ago, notes Leonard Tay, head, research at Knight Frank Singapore. What made this possible was the pent-up need from buyers seeking new homes following months of no viewings due to social distancing measures, as well as low interest rates Tay explained. “A significant proportion of the almost 50,000 HDB homeowners who collected their keys in 2014 and 2015 were also able to capitalise on their gains and upgrade to the private market, after fulfilling the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP),” he added. Whilst the newly issued directive by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) restricting the reissuance of the option to purchase (OTP) might ease sales volume moderately, demand remains

A significant proportion of HDB homeowners were able to capitalise on their gains and upgrade to the private market

from buyers whose livelihoods remain relatively unaffected by the recession. There are also prospective buyers who have dry powder from previous en bloc proceeds. In a separate report, OCBC Investment Research noted that amongst the top 10 best-selling projects in September, only one came at a medium price of $1,500 per square feet (psf). Overall, sales in Q3 reached 5,895 non-landed residential units sold (excluding executive condominiums), more than double or 146% higher than in the previous quarter. This is also 16% higher than Q3 2019 levels. Sales prices remained flat during the quarter compared to Q2, and are expected to remain flat until the end of the year, according to Knight Frank’s Tay. Meanwhile, new sale volumes are forecasted to reach about 8,000 to 9,000 units as Singapore moves

with 8M20 sales coming in at 6,198 units, or a decline of 4.5% YoY, which is tracking above our expectations. The Penrose residential project, which is 40%:60% owned by City Developments Limited and Hong Leong Holdings, saw very healthy sales during its launch over the 26-27 Sep weekend. 341 units, or 60.2% of the total 566 units available, were sold, with almost 85% of buyers being Singaporeans. This highlights the pentup demand and firm household balance sheets, coupled with the low interest rate environment. Average selling prices for the project ranged between S$1,500-1700 psf, versus our assumption of S$1,350 psf for the entire project. While we see some impact from the new OTP re-issuance regulation as highlighted earlier, the current runrate of new private residential property sales are likely to exceed our earlier forecast of 6,500-7,500 units for 2020. We now expect 8,000-9,200 new private homes to be sold this year.

Exhibit 3: Private residential units launched and sold monthly by developers excluding

PrivateECsresidential units launched and sold monthly '000






Jul 2020

Apr 2020

Jan 2020

Oct 2019

Jul 2019

Apr 2019

Jan 2019

Oct 2018

Jul 2018

Apr 2018

Jan 2018

Oct 2017

Jul 2017

Apr 2017

Jan 2017


Private residential units sold by developers excluding ECs Private residential units launched by developers excluding ECs

Source: URA, Internal estimates

Source: URA, Internal estimates

towards Phase 3 of the circuit breaker, according to both Knight Frank and OCBC Investment Research reports. Colliers’ Tricia Song also expects 2020 developer sales to fall by about 10% to 8,900 units from the 9,912 units in 2019. CCR snubbed for cheaper options One trend prominent in the real estate market in recent months is the rise prices in Singapore’s outer regions. Prices in the central region dropped 13.7% between February to June, compared with the overall market’s 7% price decline. In contrast, real estate prices outside the central region—Outside of Central Region (OCR) and Rest of Central Region (RCR)—climbed 5.05% during the same period. The price increase in Singapore’s outer regions indicates that there has been an increased demand for properties outside the city centre since COVID-19 began, according to a study by financial services provider ValueChampion. People may be moving away from these areas in search of housing in less dense and cheaper places, they added. Notably, neighbourhoods that are most distant from the central region all saw real estate prices jumped up to 17.51%. This suggests that whilst population density may have played a role in homeowner decisions during COVID-19, the overall consumer preference may have been to move out of the central area.

In their September private resale market report, OrangeTee & Tie’s head of research and consultancy Christine Sun also noted that many owner-occupiers were thronging the resale market in search of value-buys, especially for attractively 4 priced, large-sized resale units. The same is observed in the non-landed residential market, with condo prices in RCR and OCR rising, whilst CCR condo prices dropped from Q2 levels. New sale volumes for RCR condos jumped 177% in Q3 compared with the previous quarter and recorded 1,797 transactions. Prices also picked up 3.3% QoQ. It was bolstered mainly by new sales, thanks to launches during the third quarter, with projects such as Forett @ Bukit Timah and Penrose which sold around 30% and 60% of their total units respectively during their launch weekend. This also attests to the pent-up demand postcircuit breaker, according to Knight Frank analysts Linda Chern, head of sales and leasing; Khoo Zi Ting, analyst; and Tay. Condo prices in the OCR also rose a healthy 1.7% in Q3 compared with the previous quarter. Transaction volumes more than doubled to 2,600 unit sold, a 127% increase from Q2. CCR was the only market segment to record a price drop, with condo prices declining by 4.9% in Q3 compared to the previous quarter. On the upside, transaction volumes in CCR grew 94.8% to

COVER STORY The third quarter has seen a rebound, and volumes are expected to pick up further in Q4 as sentiment improves

791 condo units sold, thanks to the resale market. Resale units hit 509 condos during the quarter, rising more than two-fold from the 207 units resold in the second quarter. Investments gain momentum Total property investment sales also rebounded and achieved growth in the third quarter. Following a muted Q2, property investments jumped 78% QoQ to reach $3.99b in Q3. Albeit still down 64.8% from last year’s numbers, this signifies that the real estate market is recovering, notes Colliers Research. “[Q3] has seen a rebound, and we can expect volumes to pick up further in Q4 as sentiment improves. With more tech giant setting up bases in Singapore in the last few months and the URA Incentive Scheme to rejuvenate older precincts, investors will show a bigger appetite for CBD offices building in the long-term,” according to Jerome Wright, senior director of Capital Markets at Colliers International. Recovery is mainly thanks to local investors, especially with borders still closed during the JulySeptember period. Commercial and residential deals made up 87% of the $3.99b tally. Specifically, residential transactions trebled to $844.4m during the quarter as transactions in Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) and landed housing quadrupled. However, total sales were still 72.5% lower compared with third quarter of 2019 on the absence of government land sales and fewer luxury condominiums. “Active transactions in the domestic Good Class Bungalows and foreigner-allowed Sentosa Cove suggest Singapore is a safe haven to high net worth individuals. Monthly developer sales have also been buoyant after the circuit breaker,” added Steven Tan, senior director of investment services at Colliers International. He added that if the buying pattern continues into Q1 2021, demand for collective residential sales—or en bloc—could pick up by the end-2021. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | DECEMBER 2020



Listed, local, and international firms hailed at the Singapore Business Review Awards


s the pandemic continues to affect a growing number of countries and people, businesses are prompted to produce new innovations and services that would benefit their clients in these trying times. In an effort to recognise the companies that delivered turnarounds, Singapore Business Review digitally held this year’s International Business Awards, National Business Awards, and Listed Companies Awards. For the first time, the winning companies were honoured via visual and studio presentations held from the second to third week of August. In its seventh year, the International Business Awards continues to laud the most outstanding international firms operating in Singapore. The Listed Companies Awards in its sixth year recognises publicly listed companies in the city state for their most unique and innovative practices. Meanwhile, homegrown Singaporean companies were celebrated in the fifth edition of the National Business Awards. “The current situation provides companies the opportunity to innovate and create new products to help their customers during these challenging times,” said Singapore Business Review editor-inchief Tim Charlton. This year’s nominations were judged by a panel consisting of Henry Tan, group chief executive officer and chief innovation officer at Nexia TS; Jiak See Ng, executive director, Asia Pacific financial advisory leader at Deloitte; Max Loh, Singapore and Brunei Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP; Marcus Lam, partner, assurance leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers; Joshua Ong, managing partner at Baker Tilly; Roger Loo, executive director, management consulting services at BDO Consultants Pte Ltd; and Kuang Hui Tan, chief executive & managing partner at Crowe Singapore.

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners:

Videojet Technologies (S) Pte Ltd - Manufacturing WOG Technologies Pte Ltd - Engineering

Listed Companies Awards

Annica Holdings Limited - Energy Geo Energy Resources Limited - Metals & Mining OUE Commercial REIT Management Pte. Ltd. - Real Estate

National Business Awards

Adventus Singapore Pte Ltd - IT Services Chiropractic First Group Pte Ltd - Health & Wellness Declarators Pte Ltd - Declaring Agent Gardens by the Bay - Hospitality & Leisure Singlife - Financial Services Stamford American International School - Education vCargo Cloud - Trade Technology YCH Group Limited - Logistics Zenyum Pte. Ltd. - Health Products & Services

Adventus Singapore Pte Ltd

International Business Awards

Aviva Ltd - Life Insurance B&H Worldwide - Logistics Bayer South East Asia Pte Ltd - Pharmaceuticals Bioquell, an Ecolab solution - Infection Control Bühler - Food Manufacturing Solutions Cigna Europe Insurance Company S.A.-N.V. – Singapore Branch Health Products & Services Czarnikow - Food & Beverage Lenovo Asia Pacific - IT Services - Chatbot Matica Technologies Pte Ltd - Printing Technology NTT Ltd. - IT Services - Omnichannel Customer Experience NTT Ltd. - Technology SeaSolutions ApS - Shipping Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore (TMLS) - Financial Services UUcare Group Singapore Pte Ltd- Consumer Products - NonDurables 30


Annica Holdings Limited

Bühler Asia Pte. Ltd.



Cigna Europe Insurance Company S.A.-N.V. – Singapore Branch

Gardens by the Bay

OUE Commercial REIT Management Pte. Ltd.

Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore (TMLS)

YCH Group Limited


Geo Energy Resources Limited

SeaSolutions ApS


Declarators Pte Ltd

NTT Singapore Solutions

Stamford American International School

vCargo Cloud

Videojet Technologies (S) Pte Ltd SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | DECEMBER 2020




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The Cigna Virtual Clinic brings accessible, quality healthcare to the comfort of our homes Cigna Singapore’s innovative telehealth solution provides uncompromising care to users whilst also alleviating strain on the healthcare industry.

Teleconsultations seamlessly facilitated social distancing measures by reducing the need for physical queues. Customers were therefore able to seek medical attention with minimal risk of exposure. With these benefits in mind, it is unsurprising that 96% of the CVC’s registered members have indicated an interest in using the service again.

CVC reflects Cigna’s continuous pursuit of innovation, bringing convenience to customers and reducing the workload of healthcare providers


s a recipient of Singapore Business Review’s International Business Award in the Health Products and Services category, Cigna Europe Insurnace Companyy S.A.-N.V. - Singapore Branch (Cigna Singapore) is proud to be recognised as a leader in healthtech innovation. Beyond staying at the forefront of the industry, the company is dedicated to improving healthcare experiences for everyday users. Affordable, predictable & simple Cigna is driven by a mission to improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those that they serve. Their corporate strategy boils down to affordability, predictability, and simplicity. This translates to the core belief that a truly excellent healthcare experience should always be reassuring whilst maintaining accessible and affordable quality care for everyone. Cigna is able to do so by building on their leading position to lower the total cost of care, resulting in streamlined services that eliminates surprises and enables customers to make informed decisions. Virtual clinic for on-demand care Derived from these core principles, the Cigna Virtual Clinic (CVC) serves as a virtual platform that delivers quality medical care to customers on-demand, where customers can consult doctors via live video chat for diagnosis. Medications prescribed by the doctor are subsequently delivered to the customer’s home within three hours. Doctorissued medical and administrative documents



can also be easily accessed within the application. Beyond virtual consultations, CVC also features a health content hub that provides health-related knowledge for its users. Apart from the provision of healthy living tips, it also boasts a travel health feature that equips travellers with advice and medication when they are overseas. This further complements Cigna’s Chronic Disease Management Programme, improving the ease of uninterrupted healthcare for patients with long-term conditions by eliminating the need to make multiple trips to the clinic. The relevance of telehealth The CVC reflects Cigna’s continuous pursuit of innovation. As a cutting-edge platform for healthcare services, it has brought greater convenience to customers and reduced the workload of healthcare providers. Employers also benefit from the seamless authentication of medical information via the portal. In the long run, the key insights derived from its data analytics will continue to shape future workplace initiatives and improve wellness outcomes. Even in times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the CVC has stepped up to demonstrate its unique capabilities in supporting the healthcare systems.

A leader of healthtech innovation When the CVC was launched in 2018, Cigna was one of the first two insurers to offer telehealth services in Singapore. Alongside its current net promoter score of 73.2, reflecting the high standard of customer loyalty and satisfaction of this service. The Cigna Care ConnectSM employer benefit medical insurance product was subsequently launched with CVC as a standard offer and comes as a value-added service for Cigna Global Health Benefits®, highlighting Cigna’s firm belief that telehealth should be an essential healthcare service that is available for everyone. “The launch of the CVC in Singapore aligns to a collective effort towards becoming a smart nation. This initiative reflects our continuous work to drive innovation and transformation to meet the escalating healthcare demands of our customers and the industry,” said April Chang, CEO and country manager of Cigna Singapore

Cigna Singapore’s April Chang talks about the launch of Cigna Virtual Clinic (CVC)

This initiative reflects our continuous work to meet the escalating healthcare demands of our customers and the industry

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#go8 with Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore and Plan Well to Live Well Fulfilling its vision and mission to be the #GoToPartner for all financial planning needs.


he year 2020 has been a meaningful and memorable year for Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore (TMLS). It has, without a doubt, highlighted the pressing need to plan ahead for the unexpected situations. At the start of the year, TMLS unveiled the #go8 campaign, alongside its suite of two Investment-Linked Policies (ILPs) and a Whole Life Plan. Comprising eight distinct pillars aligned to different life stages, #go8 conveys TMLS’s commitment towards offering innovative solutions in diverse aspects of financial planning. It also furthers the company’s vision to become the Go-To Planning Partner for their customers. TMLS’s Chief Marketing Officer Gilbert Pak delves into the motivation behind this big idea. “This encompassing campaign is a seamless extension of our company’s priority to meet key financial planning needs by creating best-fit solutions that truly care. Leading with the key hashtag of #go8, we empower our customers with the ability to “go” ahead and make better life and financial planning decisions with TMLS,” he said. “Through the year-long campaign across print, digital and social platforms, we strive to impact more lives positively. Ultimately, we hope to reinforce the important takeaway of planning well as a means to living well, through the emotive sub tagline of Plan Well. Live Well,” Gilbert added. The fully integrated #go8 campaign demonstrates TMLS’s full suite of customercentric solutions. Spanning memorable milestones in life, the key approaches are relayed through eight hashtags:

• • • • • • • •

#1RetiringWellLivingBetter #2GivingYourChildrenAHeadStart #3CombattingRisingMedicalCosts #4SafeguardingYourLovedOnes #5ProtectingAgainstCriticalIllnesses #6PreparingForTheUnexpected #7MakingYourMoneyWorkHarder #8ReapingRewardsOfHealth

Following the successful reveal of the #go8 campaign, TMLS identified a gap in meeting the wealth accumulation and protection needs of their customers. This is swiftly addressed with the introduction of #goClassic, #goInvest, and #goLifePro. 36


Gilbert Pak, Chief Marketing Officer, TMLS

#goClassic and #goInvest are best-inclass ILPs which allow policyholders the flexible option of making withdrawals whilst catering to wealth accumulation needs. To address protection concerns, #goLifePro is a whole life plan that enables policyholders to boost their coverage and add on benefits to meet evolving needs. Together as a company, TMLS is committed to care for customers, employees and stakeholders, as well as proactively support vulnerable communities and frontline heroes. With these missions in mind, the #goCare campaign was officially launched on 31 January 2020. In doing so, TMLS is the first life insurer in Singapore to provide a lump sum financial assistance benefit to policyholders in the fight against COVID-19. To date, 24 policyholders have received this financial relief, which has helped them and their loved ones tide through tough times. The second wave of #goCare CSR

initiatives reaffirms TMLS’s mission in making every effort to create a positive impact. As a progression of #goCare campaign, the two-prong CSR initiatives care for the community and also support the healthcare heroes braving the frontlines. The management team, staff, and financial representatives contributed hands-on effort to assemble the #goCare kits. Each containing five masks, Vitamin C pills and hand sanitiser, 1,000 kits were distributed to the elderly and needy via AWWA (Asian Women’s Welfare Association), and also to the staff and agency force. To bring cheer and show appreciation to medical professionals safeguarding Singaporeans’ health, a total of 2,000 snack boxes were delivered to Sengkang General Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Changi General Hospital. Gilbert sums up his strategic vision for TMLS. “To build a strong brand, it is imperative that we continue to strengthen our relationships with our customers. I believe this is attained by understanding their aspirations and upsizing their ambitions. TMLS is ready to go Bigger, Better, Bolder and we will be fearless.”

Launching #goCare on 31 January 2020.

We empower our customers with the ability to “go” ahead and make better life and financial planning decisions with Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore

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Check out the winners of the second Malaysia International Business Awards


he most outstanding international companies and startups were recognised at the Malaysia International Business Awards 2020 via awards presentations held throughout the month of September. The awards programme aims to honour the most outstanding foreign companies with the most innovative projects and best practices that significantly enhanced the company’s business in the regional and global scene. International companies from different industries that have strategically expanded into the region and contributed remarkably to Malaysia’s developing economy were evaluated based on uniqueness and innovation, effectiveness and impact, and dynamism. The trophies were handed to the winning companies via digital and studio awards presentation, done by Singapore Business Review’s Managing Editor, Paul Howell, and Contributing Editor, Jonathan Di Rollo, respectively. This year’s nominations were judged by a panel consisting of Andrew Heng, Group Managing Partner at Baker Tilly Malaysia; Chan Siew Mei, Partner, Head of Advisory at KPMG; Dato’ Robert Teo, Chairman at RSM Malaysia; Yee Wing Peng, Malaysia Managing Partner and SEA Chinese Services Group Leader at Deloitte; and Esther Yap, Partner, Audit at Mazars. Congratulations to the winners!

Norwex Malaysia Team

Everise Team

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners: Malaysia International Business Awards 2020 Norwex Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. Consumer Products - Durables Everise Fintech

Chris Greenough of Everise

Ian Prescott of McDermott Asia Pacific

Rajesh Kumar Kottul of Capgemini

Anthony Chia of Lanotec Asia Pacific

Capgemini IT Services Lanotec Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Marine and Offshore Engineering McDermott Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd Oil & Gas Sam Media Telecommunications

Tham Ying Hoong of Norwex Malaysia 38

Alexis Bartelds of Sam Media


Sam Media Malaysia Team

Wonderful customer experiences come from digital reinvention.

#wondervention The Capgemini Eect

Experience the Capgemini Eect www.capgemini.com



McDermott’s engine room delivers project certainty The firm offers customers multi-office project execution, ensuring consistency in all aspects of EPCI work. Capabilities include conceptual engineering, FEED, detailed engineering, installation engineering and commissioning. The Perth office provides specialised expertise on subsea and ultra-deepwater projects. The offices in Chennai and Gurgaon, India, are two of McDermott’s largest multi-office project execution centers supporting global projects ranging from FEED to EPCI across all regions of operation. Furthermore, all of its engineering offices meet the global quality management system standards and are ISO 9001: 2015 certified.


Ian Prescott, McDermott’s Senior Vice President of APAC

s one of the energy industry’s leading contractors, McDermott offers EPCI solutions to customers across the world from three regional areas—North Central South America (NCSA), Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC). The engine room for the business is in APAC, with Centers of Engineering Excellence in Australia, India, and Malaysia. “McDermott started its long-standing commitment to Malaysia 40 years ago with a presence in Kuala Lumpur,” said Ian Prescott, Senior Vice President of APAC. “In 2016, we moved our APAC headquarters from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Since then, the APAC engine room has grown to deliver McDermott’s significant backlog of projects. Over 80% of the work we do in Asia Pacific is for global customers outside of APAC,” he added. McDermott offers customers multi-office project execution, under its One McDermott Way philosophy, ensuring consistency in all aspects of engineering, procurement, construction, and installation (EPCI) work, regardless of the location of customers or projects. AN ENGINEERING POWERHOUSE “McDermott is uniquely positioned as an engineering powerhouse in the Asia Pacific market with approximately 3,000 engineers across the region,” Prescott said. “This integration delivers certainty in project delivery that you can’t get from a service provider with a singular focus.” The Kuala Lumpur office executes complex offshore and subsea projects.



IN-HOUSE FABRICATION & CONSTRUCTION FACILITIES McDermott’s three facilities at Batam, Indonesia; Thailand; and Qingdao, China can fabricate over 100,000 metric tonnes of structures per year. Together, these facilities are some of the most established fabrication yards in Southeast Asia with a legacy of delivering complex construction for some of the world’s largest energy projects. Additionally, McDermott has become a leader in industrial and water storage through CB&I Storage Solutions, a division of the company which has the most extensive global experience of any tank construction company in the industry—having built more than 46,000 storage structures in over 100 countries across all seven continents. “Having the capability within the region to design, procure, fabricate, construct and install provides us with a significant platform

to execute projects for our customers within the same time zone and at a cost base to be competitive within the market,” Prescott said. “And with outstanding teams who have significant experience across Asia Pacific.” INDUSTRY-LEADING HSE RESULTS McDermott’s fabrication facilities have recently celebrated some major milestones, including 70 million work hours without a lost time incident in Batam and eight million work hours without a lost time incident in QMW. “Throughout COVID-19, as a result of the health and safety protocols put in place to protect employees, subcontractors and customers, all of the yards in Asia Pacific remained fully operational and productive 24/7,” Prescott said. “These safety achievements are a demonstration of McDermott’s commitment to health and safety. Moreover, McDermott’s industry-leading total recordable incident rate of 0.03 is further evidence of this commitment. Whilst we always aim for zero incidents, these safety results are truly world-class—something that the whole team at McDermott is incredibly proud of and committed to maintaining,” he added. “Exceeding expectations and delivering excellence in all that we do is at the heart of how we operate,” Prescott said. “Still, being recognised by the Malaysia International Business Awards 2020 is a great source of pride for our team and we are very appreciative.”

McDermott’s growth has been fueled by the execution of major projects

McDermott is uniquely positioned as an engineering powerhouse in the APAC market






Customers trust our technology-driven approach to deliver solutions engineered to responsibly harness and transform global energy resources into the products the world needs. From concept to commissioning, our expertise and comprehensive solutions deliver certainty, innovation and added value to energy projects around the world. McDermott’s locallyfocused and globally-integrated resources include more than 30,000 employees, a diversified fleet of specialty marine construction vessels and fabrication facilities around the world. Together, we are solving the energy challenges of today and tomorrow.


Liquefied Natural Gas



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Geoff Boyle +61 417 768 288 geoffb@lanotec.com.au I Anthony Chia +60 17 820 2368/+65 9370 6676 anthony.chia@lanotecasiapacific.com.sg Lanotec Australia +61 7 33733700 info@lanotec.com.au www.lanotec.com.au

(Category Code)

Global Green Tag Certified

LANOTEC - Finalists of MP Innovation of the Year Award 2019


Find out who won at the first virtual Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards


he most outstanding Malaysian companies and startups were recognised at the second Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards 2020 held digitally on 10 September. The Technology Excellence Awards honoured enterprises that have remarkably contributed to transforming industries through technology. For the first time, the awards were handed via visual presentation to the winners due to the pandemic. Winning companies were also interviewed virtually to share their thoughts on winning in the prestigious awards programme. This year’s nominations were judged by an elite panel of judges consisting of Justin Ong, Partner and FSI Financial and Regulatory Risk Leader at Deloitte Asia Pacific; Alvin SH Gan, Executive Director, Partner, Head of IT enabled Transformation (ITeT) at KPMG Malaysia; Hari Iyer, Executive Director, Advisory at BDO Kuala Lumpur; Michael Lim Jr., Managing Director at Crowe Growth Consulting Sdn Bhd; and Jade Leong, Partner, Advisory at Ernst & Young Advisory Services Sdn Bhd. This year’s Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards would not have been possible without our supporting partners: PIKOM, THE NATIONAL TECH ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA and Malaysia Automation Technology Association.

GPRO Global Sdn Bhd IoT - Healthcare Technology

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners:

Ministry of Health Malaysia Analytics - Non-Profit or Government Organizations

Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards Aerodyne Group Information Management - Aviation Affin Bank Berhad Mobile - Banking Alias Innovation Sdn Bhd Software - Healthcare ARB BERHAD IoT - IT Services Aspirasi Fintech - Financial Services BIMB Investment Management Berhad E-Commerce - Financial Services CAPILLARY TECHNOLOGIES (MALAYSIA) SDN. BHD. AI - Retail Mobile - Retail Technology

HEITECH PADU BERHAD IoT - Transportation HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad Information Management - Banking Online services - Banking IFCA MSC Berhad Enterprise Software - Computer Software iFIBER Sdn Bhd Network and Broadband - Telecommunications INFICARE (M) SDN BHD Fintech - Remittance INSTANT by GHL Fintech - Payments Kaigan Games Entertainment Sdn Bhd Gaming - Media & Entertainment Karuna (Sarawak) Enterprise Sdn Bhd Augmented & Virtual Reality - Advertising

MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd Augmented & Virtual Reality - Engineering NANOTEXTILE SDN BHD Nanotechnology - Apparel OrangeFIN Asia Sdn Bhd Robotics - IT Services Origin Integrated Studios Sdn Bhd Enterprise Software - Healthcare Technology Peering One Sdn Bhd Cloud - Payments Petronas Penapisan (Terengganu) Sdn Bhd Analytics - Oil & Gas Privasia Sdn Bhd Enterprise Software - IT Services Setel Ventures Sdn Bhd Digital - Startup

DE CIX Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. Connectivity - Telecommunications

SJ Varied Sdn Bhd Information Management - Oil & Gas

edotco Group Sdn Bhd Analytics - Telecommunications

State Disaster Management Committee (Sarawak) Digital - Non-Profit or Government Organizations

Emerico Sdn Bhd. Digital - Financial Services

StixFresh Biotechnology - Agriculture

Emgraft Systems Sdn Bhd Cybersecurity - IT Services

Telekom Research & Development Sdn Bhd Information Management - Computer Software

Everise AI - Business Services


Feigin Electric PTE LTD Infrastructure Technology - Startup




Aerodyne Group

Affin Bank Berhad

Alias Innovation Sdn Bhd


HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad

BIMB Investment Management Berhad


edotco Group Sdn Bhd

GHL 44

DE CIX Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.



GPRO Global Sdn Bhd



MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd

MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd


Origin Integrated Studios Sdn Bhd

Peering One Sdn Bhd

Petronas Penapisan (Terengganu) Sdn Bhd

Setel Ventures Sdn Bhd

SJ Varied Sdn Bhd


State Disaster Management Committee (Sarawak)

OrangeFIN Asia Sdn Bhd

Telekom Research & Development Sdn Bhd



Dear friends of UEM Sunrise Berhad, our homeowners, customers and Trésorians

for voting us as your

Digital - Real Estate Award Winner for the Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards 2020!

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Winner in the IoT – IT Services Category Award 2020



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........ Research& •• .,. Development


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Safety 03 Smart Helmet

02 Smart Vehicle Mgmt � System (CONVES) � A unique solution that embeds Artificial Intelligence (A.I) to optimise fleet operator productivity such as fuel consumption, vehicle condition, just-in-time service maintenance requirements and more. CONVES also comes with a unique feature to rate a driver's driving behavior and tips to optimise cost per drive.

04 Workforce Mgmt System (FORCE)

Advance your workforce with this digitally-connect­ ed Smart Safety Helmet! This award-winning innovation combines communication, collabora­ tion and most importantly safety features. The Smart Safety Helmet allows gee-fencing, comes with SOS button and supervisory alert enabling the workforce to be more productive, efficient and effective.

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Follow us on Linkedln: TM Research & Development MTEA Award AD.pdf 1 15/9/2020 4:59:09 PM






Life Made Easier'"

TM Group

Pioneers in mechanised tunnelling in Malaysia and the driving force behind the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit metro megaproject. M





BIMAR 1st AR-Powered App For Construction Validation



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Winner Augmented & Virtual Reality - Engineering MMC GAMUDA KVMRT (T) SDN. BHD.



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Singapore Business Review (October-December 2020)