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UOB, OctoRocket tie up to provide SME loans across Asean

UOB and OctoRocket.asia MOU signing ceremony
UOB head of group business banking Lawrence Loh (left) and OctoRocket chairman Julian Tan sign an MOU to help small businesses in Asean apply for financing. Mr Tan is also chief of digital business at SPH.

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) and OctoRocket.asia have signed a memorandum of understanding to enable small businesses in South-east Asia to quickly apply for financing through OctoRocket's platform.

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. SPH also owns The Business Times.

Under the agreement, UOB will enable small businesses that use 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, the bank will assess the applicant’s creditworthiness based on its transactional data on OctoRocket.

It will do so using 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 the applicant's cashflow and day-to-day operations to quickly determine credit quality.

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UOB said this will cut loan approval times from an average of two and a half days to 15 minutes.

Lawrence Loh, head of group business banking, UOB, said faster loan approvals will benefit e-commerce buyers and sellers who may need the credit to seize business opportunities quickly when they arise.

Julian Tan, chairman of OctoRocket and chief of digital business, SPH, said: “Many small-medium sized businesses have started to explore opportunities overseas for higher revenue and returns. We saw an opportunity for e-commerce to support suppliers as a group to help them reach the right buyers in different markets."

Launched in January, OctoRocket currently has 30 suppliers from the packaged food industry on its platform selling more than 600 types of food products.