Photo of Michelle Tham, UOB and Clement Cheong, SP Group Limited.
SP Group is a leading energy utilities group in Asia Pacific and provides a suite of sustainable energy solutions for customers in Singapore and the region.
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Transactional automation was required to resolve complexities arising from legacy processes and the incorporation of existing and new-age technology.
There were challenges in reconciling collections and the daily processes of reconciling large volume of payments received from different channels was arduous and time consuming that led to higher probability of payment discrepancies. The lack of in-house digital payment methods for customers to make payments for different SP bills and services was inconvenient for customers. Without a consolidated view of payment data, analyses of user payment behaviour and transactional activities across different business lines was tedious.
The following objectives were identified in implementing the digital payment solution:
Reduce operational overheads by automating end-to-end customer payments workflow from collection to account update and settlement.
Improve response time to identify payment discrepancies and deliver a better customer experience.
Enhance ROI with a scalable suite of digital payment solutions that can be easily redeployed to support SP’s different businesses.
Leverage a “one-stop” solution with an overview of end-to-end customer payment activities to obtain detailed insights to optimise cost savings and enhance user engagement.
SP Group’s payment digitisation strategy focuses on automation to alleviate productivity pain-points in transactional operations, reduce cost, and provide diverse and digitised payment options for its customers.
The company implemented the PayNow payment method using UOB’s API solutions to enable instant updates to its internal systems. The PayNow project provides a digital alternative for non-credit card customers to pay their bills. Integration with UOB’s solution also enabled SP to reduce the time needed (up to 30% effort) for manual investigation by automatically detecting and providing information about discrepancies.
The solution has also introduced a customised credit card payment method on the SP App with UOB transactional solutions. This project provided SP customers with the option to use credit cards to pay for utility bills, electric vehicles (EV) charging and purchase carbon credits (My Green Credits) to green their household electricity consumption.
Tailoring features such as ad-hoc, recurring and subscription payment methods in-app, SP enabled a scalable suite of payment solutions that can support various collection options. Automating end-to-end transactional activities and interaction with SP’s system also helped to improve operational efficiency.
The journey to digitise payment and transaction operations is an ongoing endeavour that started in 2019, with new features introduced every year. The PayNow project took six months to complete in 2022 for SP Bill, and the solution will subsequently be extended to other business verticals. Within a span of three years, SP App is now the most preferred digital payment method for SP in 2021.
SP’s three-prong digitisation strategy towards payment aims to address consumer needs, improve internal efficiency, and innovate a digital platform to support a green ecosystem around SP’s ambition of empowering the future of energy. SP’s successful parallel execution of the solutions uniquely has made a material impact to consumers, the organisation and accelerating awareness and action on sustainability. The diversification of payment channels to provide customers with alternatives during the COVID-19 pandemic was necessary and critical in allowing Singaporeans to continue making essential utility payments.
Return on investment (ROI).
Number of banking partners/bank accounts reduced.
Manual intervention reduced.
Increased system connectivity.
Future proof solution.
“PayNow and the suite of digital payment solutions from UOB bridged SP customers’ need for convenience during a time of uncertainty. By automating the transactions, we have also improved operational efficiency and provided opportunities for staff to upgrade and learn new technologies. These initiatives drove digital adoption which in-turn supports Singapore’s sustainability goals with paperless billing. They also facilitated visibility and participation in the sustainability initiatives via the SP App,” explains Ivan Tan, Managing Director.
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