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Valentina Drofa

Singapore's Fintech market in 2020: coronavirus and new business realities

BY VALENTINA DROFA

Businesses around the world have taken a major hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Singapore is not an exception. Fortunately though, as many news outlets all over the world have pointed out, the city-state was able to quickly curb the spread of the virus, and is somewhat better off in fighting it compared to other countries.

Even so, local companies have not been left unscathed – at the beginning of April, the government announced that a $3.6 billion stimulus package will be released to soften the economic damage from the ongoing outbreak, making it the third package to date.

Notably enough, the fintech industry has suffered some of the least damage – due to having a decent safety net to fall on. Singapore has been developing for many years as a global financial center with a brilliant international reputation. The local fintech industry has gathered a diverse community of entrepreneurs and investors, and the government looks positively upon it. Global Fintech Index City Rankings 2020 ranked Singapore 4th biggest fintech hub in the world.

All these factors over the years have created extremely favorable conditions for startups and established companies alike. At the end of 2019, the Central Bank of Singapore noted that it was ready to expand financing of initiatives in the field of finance and technology, and in its budget for 2020 the government allocated about $4.3 million to support various projects that are starting from scratch.

And only recently, on April 9th, Singapore’s financial regulator has unveiled an $87.8 million care package in order to help the fintech sector get through the coronavirus situation. The package offers 80% funding support for firms who seek to employ digital solutions meant to improve work efficiency, risk management and customer service.

Moving to online
With the virus running rampant, companies all over are moving towards digitalization and working remotely. Businesses are going into the online territory – moving their meetings and activities to the net space.

In order to keep your company afloat in this changing work environment, let alone push it forward, you need to master methods of working online. It is important to expand the usage of information and communication technologies. Given the high level of competition in the market, ideas and products (even if they are good) by themselves are not enough for a company to function stably.

If you want to succeed, it is crucial to make your project known – to both potential clients and partners that can help your project be better. In the modern reality, achieving success and becoming known requires the usage of online promotion methods.

Our own agency, CA Drofa, has a lot of experience working with the Asian region, and over the years, many of our clients sought to establish a presence and do business in Singapore. And in those cases we’ve used only online methods of promotion. Which ones? We’ll be talking about that below.

Website
Conduct a thorough examination of your website – check what kind of information is missing that would be more useful to have visible. Before the virus many projects didn’t invest too much time and effort into their website as a means of communication, but now it is more important than ever.

Your website is your digital face – make sure it gives the right impression. When have you last updated the news section with new activities? How comprehensible is your feedback system? Do you have all of your company’s social networks listed on your site?

If your policy allows it, add a link to your CEO’s social network accounts. It may be Medium, Reddit, or any other blog, where the CEO (or a company representative) shares their views with subscribers – maybe comment on the situation with COVID-19 and what steps they take to keep their business afloat.

Media
Another important factor in expanding your presence is mass media. Working with media is a staple of promotion activities - different media cover different topics. You will need to do a thorough search for the ones that fit your field of expertise and are relevant to your business. Business media can be B2B- and B2C-oriented.

When you have found a media that seems like a good fit for you, you basically just have to read it. Look through the materials that have been published there in the past and search for any articles relevant to your topic. That way, you will see if the media in question truly fits your project.

It could also be useful to look up what other companies write about working amidst coronavirus. Take notes – maybe you can get ideas on improving your functionality, or you can share your own situation. Assuring the audience that you’re doing fine and sharing your plans can help put potential clients at ease.

You may want to think about distributing a press release telling about some recent success or moving to a new stage of development. Alternatively, you could also do an interview and tell about your project. Either way, your main purpose would be to show the market that you are functional and ready to offer a quality product.

Social networks
As we’ve already mentioned above, the work environment around the world has changed to include heavier online presence. Conferences, meetings, negotiations – all of that is now being done on the net. Information and communication technologies are coming to the forefront and businesses have to adapt to new conditions.

To create a basis for your promotion, now more than ever, you need to develop social networks of your company. Facebook, WeChat and LinkedIn are the most obvious choices, being some of the most preferred SNS in Singapore. You can also add YouTube to the list, if you intend to make any showcases or explain any of your services.

Keep in mind that many clients can judge your business based on the upkeep of your social media pages – make sure they are well-maintained and pay attention to the content that you post.
If you are not sure what kind of content to post - don’t be afraid to ask your audience what information they would like to see on your page. Knowing that you take subscriber’s opinions into consideration can go a long way in terms of building up a support base.

Influencers
Yet another thing to keep an eye out for is influencers – also called key opinion leaders (KOLs). You can find them almost anywhere these days – the importance and popularity of influencers has grown in the recent decade along with the spread of social media.

Over 60% of the world’s population actively uses social networks today – and when they need help with making a decision, they inevitably use those networks to look for someone with the experience to guide them. That’s what being an opinion leader is about. They are people who have already built a reputation due to their knowledge and expertise in their chosen field.

Typically, the people to become influencers are popular bloggers with a great number of followers, experts on a specific topic, or superstars - people who have the ability to influence the actions of the audience.

The level of an influencer’s reach depends on how niche their field is, but generally, such people have a solid understanding of the latest trends, as well as the attention and respect of the public.

Summing up
There is no realistic way to cover all the various nuances that come with promoting your project in just one article. However, all of the above should be enough to give you a decent ground to start from. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of trial and gaining experience.

Not everything that works for someone else, will necessarily work for you. And there will always be something new to learn. The important thing is to keep trying and not give up if something goes wrong a time or two. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Valentina Drofa

Valentina Drofa

Valentina Drofa is the founder and CEO of Drofa Group LLC. 

Company Specialization:
Advertising and PR services for Fintech companies:

  • Valentina has over 12 years of experience in financial markets. 
  • Member of the Advisory Council on Consumer Protection and Financial Literacy of the CIS Countries
  • In 2010, launched an online platform ilearney.com, meant for traders and financiers. More than 30 thousand people used the service.
  • In 2012, was nominated the «Best Entrepreneur» by the jury of the «Young Millionaires 2012» competition.
  • In 2013, was accepted into the Advisory Council on Consumer Protection and Financial Literacy of the CIS Countries.
  • In 2017, ranked among St. Petersburg’s most influential women.
  • In 2018, spoke about PR of ICO-projects at the British Higher School of Art and Design.
  • Currently Valentina Drofa works with financial events in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Conducts personal consultations on the creation and development of businesses.

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