Singapore's heartland goes digital with new programme

Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling (in red) and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development Sim Ann visiting Gamewerks Singapore on Oct 8, 2020.- ST/ANN

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): A new programme has been launched to help about 20,000 retailers and food and beverage enterprises in the heartland to keep pace with digitalisation and adopt e-payments as well as other digital commerce solutions.

The Heartlands Go Digital programme, which was announced on Thursday (Oct 8), is part of the Government's broader revitalisation efforts in the heartland.

It will offer discounted solutions from five digital solution providers - Carousell, Fave, Grab, Nets and Shopee.

Businesses can tap preferential discounted rates for e-payments and gain online visibility through promotions and advertising on these platforms.

The programme is led by the Heartland Digitalisation and Revitalisation Committee, and Enterprise Singapore (ESG). Key partners include the Community Development Councils; the Federation of Merchants' Associations, Singapore (FMAS); Heartlands Enterprise Centre, Singapore (HECS); merchants associations and SME Centres.

The Heartland Digitalisation and Revitalisation Committee is co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development Sim Ann, and Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling.

It also includes representatives from ESG, FMAS, the Government Technology Agency, the Housing Board, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and the People's Association.

Close to 200 ambassadors from HECS, SG Digital Office and SME Centres have started ground outreach efforts in the heartland across Singapore to quicken the pace of digital adoption, sharing the benefits of digitalisation and providing step-by-step guidance to businesses.

Solution providers will also organise training courses to help enterprises better understand these digital solutions.

FMAS president Yeo Hiang Meng noted that a recent survey by HECS business advisers found that heartland enterprises were aware of the importance of digitalising their business to keep up with the times.

"Through the Heartlands Go Digital programme, enterprises can save a lot of time and energy in manual processes and instead focus on improving and expanding their business. This will serve as a stepping stone for enterprises to slowly evolve into a fully digital business model," he said.

Sim said that while heartland businesses had already been gearing up for transformation, the Covid-19 pandemic emphasised the need for digitalisation and innovation to even more customers and business owners.

The committee seeks to help these businesses achieve real change, she said.

Low echoed that view.

She said: "We are rallying alongside them to uplift and future-proof their businesses by accelerating their adoption of e-payment and digital commerce."

She added: "Having a strong digital foundation will spur these enterprises to look at new and different ways to improve their operations and business models, so that they can emerge even stronger from the pandemic."

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