Keppel's M1 joins IMDA scheme for new businesses, amid SME market push

KEPPEL-OWNED M1 has become the third telco in a government scheme providing digital solutions to small businesses, as it joined the Start Digital initiative on Tuesday.

Under the scheme, aimed at newly set-up small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), participating banks and telcos offer business solutions in five categories: accounting, human resources and payroll, digital marketing, digital transactions and cyber security.

Singapore has four mobile network operators: Singtel, StarHub, M1 and Australian entrant TPG Telecom. Singtel and StarHub are already part of Start Digital - which was rolled out in January this year - along with lenders DBS, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank and Maybank.

Willis Sim, chief corporate sales and solutions officer for M1, said in a statement that the participation in Start Digital is part of a push into the SME market “and we are excited to see our efforts translate into solid outcomes as we increase our focus on the enterprise business”.

M1 chief executive Manjot Singh Mann, who took over the reins in December 2018, has stressed to the press that the telco plans to grow its footprint in the enterprise space.

That’s even as, in another sea change, M1 was bought out this year by blue-chip conglomerate Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Business Times, in a deal that valued the telco at S$1.9 billion.

Keppel recently told an analyst briefing on Oct 23 that its transformation plan for M1 includes collaborating with the rest of the Keppel Group in areas such as smart cities and data centres.

It also plans to expand in the business-to-business connectivity and infocomm technology segment, with a strategy involving segment-specific market differentiation across large enterprises, government clients and SMEs.

Start Digital, which is part of the national SMEs Go Digital programme, is led by public agencies Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

According to M1’s latest statement, the telco will take part in more IMDA initiatives for SMEs, and is also looking to “provide more opportunities for SME owners to connect and share about their businesses, as well as to be updated with the latest and upcoming industry trends”.

The Ministry of Communications and Information said in a July update that some 10,000 companies here had taken part in the S$80 million SMEs Go Digital scheme since its launch in 2017, with the rising take-up spurred by the recent introduction of Start Digital.