F&B and retail businesses can get up to $10,000 under new digital transformation scheme

Eligible businesses can receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Companies in the food and beverage (F&B) and retail sector, which will be most affected by safe distancing requirements as Singapore reopens its economy, could receive up to $10,000 each in payouts under a new scheme to accelerate digital transformation.

They will be the first to benefit from the new Digital Resilience Bonus, announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as part of the Fortitude Budget in Parliament on Tuesday (May 26).

Under this bonus, eligible businesses can receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions.

An additional tier of $5,000 is also available for F&B and retail businesses which incorporate advanced solutions, said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

The new scheme is part of more than $500 million allocated to support businesses in their digital transformation in the fourth round of Budget measures announced on Tuesday.

"Those who are willing to transform will not be left behind," said Mr Heng, highlighting that digital solutions will become more deeply embedded in everyday lives.

He noted that the Emerging Stronger task force is studying two key shifts which have been accelerated by the virus pandemic - the rise of digital transformation, and the decline in support for globalisation which has affected global supply chains.

The task force was set up to plan for the post-Covid-19 world to study how sectors in Singapore's economy can adjust to future changes.

Stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens will also get bonus payouts of $300 a month, over five months, for adopting e-payments. The bonus is contingent on sustained use of the e-payment solution, with a minimum number of transactions per month. The Government will also bear the transaction fees until Dec 31, 2023.

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This will help businesses who have not begun using digital tools to do so, said Mr Heng, noting that the take-up for e-payments among businesses has risen sharply, with 50,000 more enterprises adopting PayNow Corporate since April.

Around $250 million will also be set aside to help businesses digitalise in partnership with platform solution providers and industry champions, he said, such as through developing new offline-to-online business models to access new domestic and international revenue streams.

Schools and higher institutes of learning must also make full use of digital technologies for learning, Mr Heng said, noting that the Education Ministry and the National Research Foundation (NRF) will share more details on how new digital platforms for online learning and teaching can be developed, integrating the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and learning sciences.

A new set of National Innovation Challenges will also be introduced to develop industry-led solutions for challenges which all businesses face, especially measures to reopen Singapore safely, he added.

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