Standard Chartered plans to increase lending to SMEs

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 12

Standard Chartered Bank Taiwan Ltd (渣打銀行) aims to increase loans to Taiwanese small and medium enterprises (SME) by 50 percent this year as growing overseas trade activity opens new business opportunities and challenges, company executives said yesterday.

“We intend to be the leading international bank for SMEs, building the segment into a multi-billion-dollar business over the next three to four years,” Som Subroto, Standard Chartered’s global head of SME banking, told a news conference in Taipei.

Small and medium-sized firms play a critical role in global economies in generating GDP growth, employment and exports, Som said, as they account for 95 percent of all enterprises and hire about two-thirds of the workforce worldwide.

To enhance its position as the preferred lender, Standard Chartered is strengthening services to local SMEs that are seizing international business opportunities and consequently have to cope with foreign exchange volatility, business protection and other needs, Som said.

New offerings include a service pledge for the approval of credit applications within five working days, same-day remittances in the Greater China area and a dedicated SME service hotline, said Benjamin Tan (陳偉川), Standard Chartered Taiwan’s general manager of SME banking.

“We understand that SME customers require simple, easy-to--access and highly flexible financial solutions to stay responsive to the ever-changing demand in the global market,” he said.

Standard Chartered had the largest SME lending volume among foreign peers in Taiwan last year, Tan said without elaborating.

SME lending rose to NT$3.69 trillion (US$124.83 billion) last year, taking up 19.85 percent of the nation’s total loans, from NT$3.23 trillion a year earlier, or a share of 18.45 percent, suggesting growing capital demand, he said.

Betty Ku , Standard Chartered’s regional head of SME banking in China and North East Asia, said the bank can help Taiwanese SME customers expand in overseas markets and meet their capital needs.

“We hope to double our market share [in SME lending] in the next three to four years,” she said. “Cross-border trade is set to flourish in the Greater China area following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).”