Half of Singapore online businesses lament regulatory barriers in expansion: survey

Nearly 40% spent $68,800 to $137,800 on compliance per year.

Although three-fourths of online businesses in Singapore seek to grow their international footprint, regulatory hurdles increasingly hamper their expansion plans, according to a survey from Stripe. 

Also read: Is Singapore losing cash as SMEs pivot abroad? 

Half (51%) of online businesses identified inconsistent and costly regulation and compliance rules as the most pressing issue hampering their international operations.

In fact, two fifths (39%) of Singaporean businesses selling internationally spend between $68,800 to $137,800 per year on compliance and complex regulatory issues, whilst a further 34% spend between $137,800 to $691,550 as businesses lament the growing cost of compliance.

Also read: 2 in 5 APAC organisations are not ready to address new global regulations: study

Time is another proving to be another cost with the survey revealing that more Singaporean executives (61%) have admitted to spending weeks and months ㄧ versus days ㄧ on settling issues related to their foreign operations than their international counterparts.

"With its tradition of international trade, Singapore businesses today are leading the way in leveraging the internet and borderless technology services to reach new markets. However, outdated financial and regulatory barriers are still slowing down innovation and growth for businesses embracing that global outlook," Piruze Sabuncu, Head of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong at Stripe said in a statement. 

The survey also revealed that executives Singapore were the most pessimistic about their global business prospects with 61% believing that it is harder to run an international operation in present day compared to five years ago. They cite increasing protectionism (45%) and government tariffs (45%) as the next biggest hurdles to international operations.

The report surveyed over 9,000 founders and senior executives across 15 markets and 10 industries.

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