ANEXT Bank is empowering MSMEs, redefining financial inclusion

Since its launch in 2022, ANEXT Bank has become a prominent player in Singapore’s digital banking landscape. 

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Ant Group, this fintech giant has taken the reins of digital banking, driving financial inclusion and empowering micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). 

Its offerings aim to address the financial challenges faced by these businesses, and support their growth in this digital era. 

Here is a look at how the bank has grown and the lasting impacts it has made on the MSME sector over the past year. 

Providing underserved MSMEs with accessible financing

Although Singapore has a highly banked population, studies have shown that MSMEs are highly underbanked in the city-state, despite making up about 99 per cent of all companies in Singapore. 

The global tightening of monetary conditions also does not make it easier for these businesses, especially when it comes to accessing financing. “According to the World Bank, [financing] is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries,” said Toh Su Mei, CEO of ANEXT Bank.

This was why the bank introduced its ANEXT Business Loan last November, which offers a fuss-free and flexible unsecured financing solution. This initiative simplifies the loan application process and caters specifically to the needs of MSMEs.

The minimum loan amount starts from S$5,000, and no documents are required for loans under S$30,000.

Toh Su Mei, CEO, ANEXT Bank

In addition to business loans, it also offers a comprehensive suite of financial services and expertise, including advisory services, which have proven to be vital to rapidly growing startups such as BRB Selfcare, an online platform that provides anonymous mental health therapy. 

ANEXT Bank’s offerings have bolstered the growth of the business, enabling them to successfully navigate the complexities of expanding their business. Additionally, BRB Selfcare has also managed to  streamline its cash flow management and financial operations. 

“Having a banking partner that understands the unique needs and challenges of startups like ours is invaluable to our growth,” said Joylynn Tan, co-founder of BRB Selfcare.

Evolving financial services to cater to digital-first businesses

Toh Su Mei, CEO, ANEXT Bank/ Image Credit: ANEXT Bank

With COVID-19 propelling the shift towards digitalisation, the ANEXT Programme for Industry Specialists caters specifically towards the shifting dynamics of business models that adopt hybrid and digital-first approaches. 

Launched back in November, the programme is a B2B solution that aims to empower MSMEs by granting them access to financing solutions through an array of industry partners.

As the programme continues to grow, the bank actively seeks partnerships with e-commerce marketplaces, fintech companies and digital solutions providers to support MSMEs’ cross-border operations.

As business models are shifting towards hybrid and digital-first, so should financial services, which have to evolve and be where SMEs are doing their businesses digitally.

We believe that innovation can be accelerated at scale when we join hands with like-minded industry and public sector partners to drive transformation and create greater value for SMEs.

– Toh Su Mei, CEO, ANEXT Bank

Notable partners, including key industry leaders such as fintech company IN Financial Technologies and business process management provider Bizmann System have joined the programme, with the potential to benefit the staggering number of 15,000 MSMEs that they serve.

Moreover, the bank’s extensive network has proven to be a catalyst to success, as exemplified by the experience of BRB Selfcare.

According to Joylynn, ANEXT Bank provided the startup with a gateway to connect with potential partners, investors and industry experts, which have subsequently “opened doors to strategic collaborations” and expanded its reach.

Reimagining financial inclusivity for all MSMEs

ANEXT Bank
Image Credit: ANEXT Bank

But to those who are not so digitally-savvy, the bank also offers inclusive and accessible solutions to access financing easily, in line with its goal to reimagine financial inclusion. Its clients today include businesses from industries that are not typically digital, such as the trade industry, as well as the building and construction industry.

We’ve been clear from the start when we set out to reimagine financial inclusion to deliver accessible and effortless solutions securely. 

This way, business owners, no matter their industry or digital competency, can access financing easily and without worries.

– Toh Su Mei, CEO, ANEXT Bank

One of the ways the bank achieves this is through its simple and streamlined onboarding process. Singapore-incorporated businesses can initiate their ANEXT Business Account application online, with their Corppass credentials, which automatically pre-fill their application with relevant information. 

The user-friendly digital services offered by the bank have helped multiple clients, including BRB Selfcare. In fact, it has allowed the startup to focus on its core mission of providing therapy, while relying on ANEXT Bank for simple, yet accessible financial services. 

ANEXT Bank also goes the extra mile by incorporating enhanced security measures into its services, such as its three-factor authentication feature that utilises facial recognition to authenticate transactions. By prioritising the security of SMEs, ANEXT Bank not only simplifies their financial interactions but also instills confidence in the integrity and safety of their transactions.

In addition to supporting businesses regardless of their digital competency, the bank also supports the expansion of foreign businesses into Singapore to boost the city-state’s local economy. 

In fact, ANEXT Bank is the first bank in Singapore to provide remote, virtual onboarding services for those based overseas with a registered business in Singapore. By leveraging these services, foreign entrepreneurs can set up their businesses with ease, minimising both the time and expenses involved.

Establishing closer collaborations with MSMEs

Today, 78 per cent of ANEXT Bank’s Business Account customers comprise micro businesses.  Moreover, an astounding 51 percent of ANEXT Bank’s business loan customers comprise MSMEs, solidifying the bank’s vital role in providing support to these enterprises.  

By understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by MSMEs, ANEXT Bank has positioned itself as a trusted partner for their growth and success.

In line with their commitment to serve the evolving needs of these enterprises, the bank has now introduced a new initiative – SME Friends of ANEXT. This innovative program enables ANEXT Bank to establish closer collaborations with MSMEs, allowing them to gain deeper insights into the pain points and challenges faced by these businesses.

While ANEXT Bank has already made significant strides in its journey to support MSMEs, the digital bank is far from done. Riding the wave of positive month-on month growth, the digital bank aims to double down on their customer-based approach. This includes continuing their efforts to build financial solutions that meet SMEs’ needs and to be tech driven and innovative in order to offer their customers a secure and simple user experience. .

Furthermore, ANEXT Bank has set its sights on expanding its services to benefit more regional SMEs. By tapping into the growing and interconnected digital economy, ANEXT Bank aims to empower these enterprises with the opportunities and advantages offered by global markets. 

Featured Image Credit: ANEXT Bank




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