Trustana-OneConnect integration boosts F&B trade between Asean and China SMEs

15, Jul. 2021

The virtual signing ceremony between Trustana and OneConnect Financial Technology to mark their strategic collaboration saw the participation of leaders and representatives of Trustana; OneConnect Financial Technology; Temasek Holdings; Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore; and Affinidi, a Temasek tech startup which built the Trustana platform. (Photo: Trustana)
The virtual signing ceremony between Trustana and OneConnect Financial Technology to mark their strategic collaboration saw the participation of leaders and representatives of Trustana; OneConnect Financial Technology; Temasek Holdings; Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore; and Affinidi, a Temasek tech startup which built the Trustana platform. (Photo: Trustana)

By Celine Chen

SINGAPORE, NNA - Small and medium enterprises in Singapore and ASEAN can now reach out to a larger pool of buyers in China following the integration of the OneSME platform for Chinese businesses into Singapore's Trustana's B2B portal.

The move comes under a strategic collaboration between Trustana and OneConnect Financial Technology (Singapore) Co. Pte. Ltd. to accelerate cross-border trade as e-commerce surged further in the region as a result of pandemic lockdowns and ensuing recovery efforts to help beleaguered businesses, especially small enterprises.

Founded by Singapore's state-own investment company Temasek Holdings, Trustana is focusing on the food and beverage sector first before moving to other industries and expanding globally.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, OneConnect Financial Technology (OneConnect) is a leading Chinese technology provider for financial institutions and an associate of Ping An Group in China. As the fintech expert, it is providing SMEs with digital financing services and solutions on the Trustana platform.

Announcing their collaboration recently (June 29) in a press statement, both parties said, "Building on Trustana's cross-border trade expertise and OneConnect's core competencies in architecting technology solutions, curating and operating an extensive network of ecosystems in China, the collaboration will enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore and ASEAN to access a larger pool of buyers in China, seize international trade opportunities, and benefit from value-added services on Trustana's platform."

As buyers and their products are verified by Trustana in a curation process, buyers and sellers can transact with more trust and confidence.

"As a result of the collaboration, SMEs in Southeast Asia will be able to buy and sell their products directly to pre-screened buyers and suppliers in China who show keen interest, boosting the chances of a match," said the press statement.

In addition, SMEs in Southeast Asia can have access to a buyer base of four million Chinese SMEs via OneConnect's YiQiYe, a one-stop SME platform that provides financing, insurance and cash management solutions to SMEs in China.

Asean, the economic grouping of Southeast Asia states, became China's largest trading partner in 2020, with trade volumes amounting to 4.74 trillion yuan ($731.9 billion), or a 7 percent growth year-on-year, according to Chinese Customs in January.

China continues to be Asean's biggest trading partner for 12 consecutive years.

Headquartered in Singapore, Trustana is also integrating with China's Guangxi open finance platform which provides digital financial services.

The platform was spearheaded by the Guangxi district government, and jointly built and operated by OneConnect and Digital Guangxi Group to promote collaborations between governments, institutions and enterprises.

The strategic collaboration will strengthen Trustana's growing presence in China as a buyer marketplace, and speed up ongoing expansion to other trade corridors in Asean. Trustana also operates a hub in Shanghai.

OneConnect is giving Trustana buyers and suppliers access to financial services by OneSME's first bank partner, Singapore's UOB.

Trustana has assisted more than 2,000 F&B buyers and suppliers in building new connections across China and Southeast Asia within a year of its launch. It also provides end-to-end trade support services such as cross-border payments, shipping and logistics services.

The OneSME platform was established as a joint initiative by OneConnect and Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to enable SMEs in Singapore to trade and transact securely across borders.

Nearly 300 SMEs in Singapore and China have come onboard OneSME since it was launched in September 2020. It is one of the plans under the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI) aimed at facilitating easier access to market opportunities for businesses in China's Greater Bay area and Southeast Asia.

Tan Bin Ru, CEO (Southeast Asia) of OneConnect Financial Technology, said, "We are thrilled by the possibilities that our tech solutions and ecosystem strategies can bring for SMEs in Singapore, China and Southeast Asia from our collaboration with Trustana. Now more than ever, cross-border ecosystem platforms will go a long way in helping SMEs scale their business, expand overseas and adopt global technologies to grow and thrive."

OneConnect showcased its slew of comprehensive, customer-centric fintech solutions using AI, big data and blockchain for the financial industry at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2021 in Shanghai last week (July 8 - 10).

The company is expanding rapidly overseas after setting up subsidiaries in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

According to Grand View Research, the global Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce market size was valued at $6.64 trillion in 2020. It is expected to surge at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent from 2021 to 2028.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a shift in consumer preference for online shopping, creating avenues for much growth.

Grand View Research said the Asia-Pacific region emerged as a dominant player capturing over 60 percent of the overall B2B revenue share in 2020.

It said in its report, "Vendors in the region are now undertaking efforts to build technology that supports their business, marketing, and operational strategies in the long run."

Global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up 4 percent from 2018, according to estimates, said Unctad in May.

Encompassing business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, the total accounted for 30 percent of global gross domestic product in 2019, said the United Nations agency for trade and development.

Shamika Sirimanne, Unctad's director of technology and logistics, said, “These statistics show the growing importance of online activities. They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Trustana's parent company, Temasek Holdings, on Tuesday (July 13) reported a record net portfolio value of $283 billion for the last financial year, or a nearly 25 percent jump from the previous year as markets rebound.

Temasek, a major tech investor in Asia, said it would continue to be bullish on China, which accounted for 27 percent of its portfolio, followed by Singapore at 24 percent.

Data platform Global SWF noted that Temasek continued to ride the tech wave with an increasing proportion of assets in life sciences and agrifood, financial services, transportation and industrials, while consumer and real estate investments declined and technology, media, and telecom (TMT) seeing no change.

Global SWF said, "The sectoral tilting was seen in both private and public markets. In public markets, we note that it had amassed a portfolio of US stocks worth $25.5 billion by end-March, almost double as much as the same time in 2020 and nearly 10 percent up on end-Q420."