United Overseas Bank
United Overseas Bank (UOB) and e-commerce platform OctoRocket.asia have signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable small businesses in South-east Asia to quickly apply for financing.
OctoRocket, a joint venture by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Y3 Technologies, enables cross-border trade between suppliers and buyers from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Under the agreement, UOB will enable small businesses that have used OctoRocket for at least six months to apply for financing directly via the online platform.
Instead of relying on company financial statements as per traditional business loans, UOB will assess applicants' creditworthiness based on transaction data from OctoRocket.
The lender will do so using a credit assessment engine backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Developed by Avatec.ai, a joint venture of UOB and Pintec Technology Holdings, the engine will look at an applicant's cash flow and day-to-day operations.
UOB said this will cut loan approval times from an average of 21/2 days to 15 minutes.
Launched in January, OctoRocket is currently used by 30 suppliers from the packaged food industry, which sell more than 600 types of food products on the platform.
MindChamps PreSchool's fourth-quarter net profit rose 67 per cent to $3.7 million, underpinned by increased international student numbers and franchise development, the company announced on Wednesday night.
Earnings per share (EPS) for the three months to Dec 31 came in at 1.52 cents, up from 1.18 cents a year earlier.
The board has recommended a final dividend of 1.34 cents per share for the 2018 fiscal year. No dividend was declared for the preceding year.
Revenue for the quarter rose 70 per cent to $14.1 million from a year ago. This was due to a rise in school fees, as the acquisition of centres in Australia and Singapore raised the number of enrolled students, and an increase of about $1.2 million in non-recurring franchise income.
Full-year net profit rose 40 per cent to $6.4 million as revenue grew 62 per cent to $37 million. This translated to EPS of 2.64 cents for the year, up from 2.45 cents previously.
SPH, which publishes The Straits Times, owns about a 20 per cent stake in MindChamps.