UOB’s pandemic response to help ASEAN SMEs on the road to recovery and growth sees it named the World’s Best Bank for SMEs by Euromoney


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 7 October 2021 – UOB has been named the World’s Best Bank for SMEs at the Euromoney Global Awards for Excellence 2021 based on its deep regional connectivity, expertise and continued support of SMEs to enable post-pandemic recovery and growth. The latest win follows from other key SME awards the Bank has won including the Best SME Bank in Singapore and Asia Pacific at The Asian Banker’s Excellence in Retail Financial Services International Awards in June this year.

Building resilient business models through the pandemic
Understanding that SMEs are the backbone of regional economies, UOB acted swiftly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide its support. In March 2020, UOB Malaysia launched a COVID-19 Relief Assistance programme to provide immediate support to customers in Malaysia financially impacted by the pandemic.

Further, the Bank was also the first in setting up a dedicated restructuring task force that has been actively engaging clients to understand their challenges and to provide support in reworking their financial needs. To date, UOB has helped more than 20,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region keep their businesses running. In Malaysia, the Bank has provided relief assistance in various forms of financial repayment moratoriums and targeted repayment assistance to more than 3,600 SMEs1.

Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, UOB, said, “We understand the distinct challenges that SMEs face when navigating the disruptions caused by the pandemic and stand right by our customers to help them weather the crisis. In addition to relief support, we are also helping our SME customers transform their business digitally, seize cross-border opportunities and advance responsibly for long-term growth.

“The Euromoney World’s Best Bank for SMEs award is testament to UOB’s continued efforts in understanding the needs of our SME customers and keeping that at the core of the solutions and services we offer. We are committed in supporting our SME customers throughout economic and market cycles and to working with them to build more resilient and sustainable businesses.”

Supporting SMEs in their digital transformation
Recognising the increasing importance of digitalisation in building a sustainable business, a need accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, UOB has enabled more SMEs to use digital payments. In Malaysia for example, UOB mCollect was developed as an integrated digital cash collections solution with DuitNow2, and is designed to help businesses ease their cash collection and reconciliation processes.

UOB also offers a full suite of solutions to help SMEs digitalise their operations and remain relevant in the digital economy. UOB SmartBusiness is an integrated suite of business solutions that boost productivity. SMEs that have taken up UOB SmartBusiness solutions recorded revenue growth of between 15 to 30 per cent, compared with those that have not taken up the solution between April 2020 and March 2021. As at March 2021, more than 10,000 SMEs in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have benefitted from UOB SmartBusiness since its launch in 2016.

UOB also leveraged its strong digital capabilities, such as its data analytics-powered credit underwriting engine, to assess and to respond quickly to SMEs’ financial needs, especially during the pandemic3.

Ms Louise Bowman, Editor of Euromoney, said, “UOB has radically changed its underwriting engine by applying new alternative data metrics to its risk management analytics. And UOB does not just provide innovative digital services to help these small companies financially; it has introduced an SME solution with bundled accounting, payroll and other HR functionalities to enable SMEs to manage the logistical side of operations.”

UOB Malaysia wins four industry accolades at the Asian Banking and Finance Awards 2021
In Malaysia, UOB has also received four industry accolades at the Asian Banking and Finance (ABF) Awards 2021. The annual awards recognise the most innovative and industry-leading banks across Asia. UOB Malaysia was acknowledged for its strategic focus on deepening relationships with its customers and for offering the right solutions to help them overcome challenges amid uncertainties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UOB Malaysia won the following awards:

ABF Wholesale Banking Awards 2021

  • International Trade Finance Bank of the Year (Malaysia) – for the third year running;
  • International Initiative of the Year (Malaysia);

ABF Retail Banking Awards 2021

  • International Retail Bank of the Year (Malaysia); and
  • Digital Banking Initiative of the Year (Malaysia).

UOB Malaysia was one of only seven banks in the country recognised at this year’s ABF Awards by a panel of industry experts. Each winning bank stood out for various capabilities including corporate resilience, innovation and ability to meet changing customer needs and preferences amid the crisis.

Mr Wong Kim Choong, Chief Executive Officer, UOB Malaysia, said, “We are honoured to have won these industry awards, especially being named as the International Trade Finance Bank in Malaysia for three consecutive years. This recognition is testament to us being at the forefront of providing progressive solutions to our customers in Malaysia for the last 70 years. We are truly humbled that our dedication to and support of our customers are recognised and highly regarded by the industry. We will remain steadfast in helping our customers to overcome the challenges from the pandemic and in staying attuned to their needs as we continue to deepen our relationships with them.”


1 Source: UOB Malaysia internal data as at 24 September 2021

2 DuitNow is a peer-to-peer payment facility provided by Payment Network Malaysia to enable digital funds transfer via UOB BIB Plus.

3 Please refer to UOB news release “UOB taps data analytics to develop credit underwriting engine for small business loans across the region”, 22 March 2018.