Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Singapore Power

Singapore Power, Highly Commended, Best SWIFT Solution

Yew Kin Wah, Singapore Power and So Lay Hua, United Overseas Bank

Singapore Power (SP) wanted to digitise its financial and treasury transactions. According to SWIFT, SP is amongst the first government-linked corporations in Singapore to fully digitise their end-to-end treasury and payment functions via the SWIFT platform.

Photo of Yew Kin Wah, Singapore Power and So Lay Hua, United Overseas Bank.

Yew Kin Wah

Managing Director, Finance

Singapore Power (SP) Group is a leading energy utility company in Asia Pacific. One of Singapore’s largest corporations, SP recorded revenues of S$4.0bn and assets of S$16.7bn in FY15/16.

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The challenge

With the desire to enhance security and improve productivity, SP embarked on the journey towards digitising its financial and treasury transactions.

Key challenges of manual processes
  • Longer time to obtain physical signatures and execute transactions.

  • Concerns over security and integrity of payment instructions.

Key objectives
  • Gain process efficiency by streamlining and automating existing end-to-end processes.

  • Reduce operating costs through automation of payables and reconciliation.

  • Enhance liquidity management by maximising yield on SP Group’s cash holding.

  • Improve controls and visibility via a single platform that is in line with global industry standards.

The solution

SP’s vision was to incorporate and automate all functions using the electronic platform, starting from treasury settlements, commercial and vendor payments, payroll, direct debit and cheque collections. The solution was an electronic funds transfer system, utilising SWIFT as its key financial messaging platform, for SP’s financial transactions. The SWIFT platform provides SP with a secure and robust technology framework, greater account visibility, and a bank-agnostic file format. More importantly, the SWIFT platform acts as a secure point-of-access for managing treasury and financial operations online.

This project has enabled SP to achieve its objectives by creating an ecosystem that optimises their back-end systems and resources, while integrating their treasury system, financial logistic and information system, and collection platform seamlessly.

“The award reaffirms Singapore Power’s use of technology to enable transformation of our processes for greater performance and productivity. Technology is the greatest disruptor in our times and permeates every facet of our lives, and the move to a technology-driven world will only gather pace.”

Yew Kin Wah, Managing Director, Finance, Singapore Power

The holistic solution took several months to conceive, as an in-depth analysis was conducted not only to validate that SWIFT caters for SP’s needs, but also to ensure that the solution would future-proof the company’s digitisation journey.

Direct debit migration for e-collections was completed within five months for a total of 180,000 records across 43 banks, without disrupting daily consumer and vendor collections. Extensive use of SWIFT and a treasury management system (TMS) also simplified the back office operations. Through a combination of MT101 and MT320, paper-based transactions initiation was eliminated.

Key features of the tailored solution, which took nine months to implement, include:

  • SWIFT ISO-based payment instructions for all payment types with seamless integration between financial system and the SWIFT platform.

  • Outsourcing of cheque printing and automated delivery of advices to beneficiaries.

  • Cheque reference capture for all of the cheques received by SP.

  • Liquidity solution to maximise the yield on the group’s funds.

  • Automated bank reconciliations using the MT940 module linked to the company’s financial system.

Yew Kin Wah, Managing Director of SP Finance Department and Chair of the Project Steering Committee, explained the merits of the new system. “The SWIFT solution meets SP’s key corporate objectives. More than just cost savings, this initiative supports the Group’s productivity movement through digitisation and automation. It is an opportunity to also upgrade our employees’ skillset to align with a technology-driven workplace of the future. We cannot afford to stand still.”

Best practice and innovation

Echoing Singapore’s SmartNation initiative to go digital, SP recognises the need to be forward-looking to ensure that they are well-positioned for the future. Hence, they have chosen a full-scale adoption of a financial messaging system using SWIFT and leveraged technology to increase efficiency, enhance data security and boost productivity.

According to SWIFT, SP is among the first government-linked corporations in Singapore to fully digitise their end-to-end treasury and payment functions via the SWIFT platform. This sets a model of excellence for other corporates.

Lim Chor Hoon, Chief Talent Officer added, “From a learning and development’s standpoint, the initiative has created opportunities for staff to learn new technologies and skills.”

Key benefits

  • Productivity and efficiency improved (6,800 man hours saved per year).

  • Better control and security.

  • Eliminates paper and reduces storage space leading to cost savings.

  • Automation in payment process.

Key learning points

The well-established SWIFT system meets Singapore Power’s key corporate objectives. Besides improving efficiency and enhancing controls, this initiative supports the group’s productivity movement. It is also an opportunity to upgrade our employees’ skillsets.

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