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Singapore's Reaction to the Impact of the Internet on Businesses

Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Assistant Chief Executive, Online Development Group, IDA Singapore - Speech Launch of ThePlanner.Com, Ritz-Carlton Millenia Hotel

Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Assistant Chief Executive, Online Development Group, IDA Singapore - Speech
Launch of ThePlanner.Com, Ritz-Carlton Millenia Hotel

Singapore, 13 April 2000

1. I am delighted to be here this afternoon for the official launch of Asia's first financial planning portal. We are living in exciting times and are seeing the birth of portals every other day. More importantly, Singapore is scoring a number of firsts in this area. is Asia's first financial planning portal. Just a few weeks ago, we have seen the launch of Asia's first logistic portal - The Net has created new business opportunities in this New Economy. Business models are evolving and organisations are re-configuring their businesses to capitalise on the Internet to maximise the potential.

Impact of Internet on Businesses

2. The Internet is becoming a key driver in the growth of the global economy and e-business is increasingly the way of doing business. Organisations are incorporating Infocomm into various aspects of their business processes, be it marketing, financial, operations or corporate communications processes.

3. The Boston Consulting Group has projected that e-commerce transactions in Asia will outstrip that of the United States and the greatest growth will come from the financial sector. Just three days ago, the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore mentioned that the Internet will radically transform and alter the competitive dynamics of the financial services sector in a fundamental way.

4. The Internet has created new roles in the financial services value chain, for example, infomediaries or intermediaries which gather and present information on financial products offered by different financial institutions. This allows consumers to compare prices and quality at the click of a mouse before committing to a specific product. Financial planners will have to understand the nature of this new Internet-based activities. As consultants, they would have to offer the best solutions to their clients. Leveraging on technology to create value, share information and "network", would not be a choice but a necessity.

Government's Effort

5. The Singapore government recognised the vast economic potential of the Internet economy several years ago. In this new economy, we want to position Singapore as a leading Infocomm hub in the Asia Pacific. We will see a vibrant hub comprising the following activities: systems integration, on-line services, appliances and communications equipment, software, content and access providers. Portals and infomediaries are also important components of this hub. In addition, we would also want to facilitate everyone's entry into this online economy. To this end, the Singapore government has put in place a number of initiatives and schemes to move the economy in this direction.

Initiatives by IDA

6. Firstly, $25 million has been committed to move Singapore towards an information society. The pace of Internet revolution has made a tremendous impact on the people sector around the globe. In both the US and Europe, Internet has reached 50% and 12.5% of the people respectively. Singapore's 42% Internet penetration rate is very much higher than the 2.5% in Asia. To stay ahead, IDA will undertake several programmes to raise the awareness of how Infocomm technology can enhance quality of life.

7. We also recognised that worldwide, there is a shortage of qualified Infocomm talent, and talent is key to become a high value-creating net economy. As such, $10 million has been set apart to implement programmes to develop a sufficient pool of high calibre Infocomm talent and net-savvy workforce. These programmes seek to enhance an environment to nurture a net-savvy workforce; attract and retain international talents as well as to establish Singapore as the leading e-Learning hub for the region.

8. We would also build on the existing $9 million LECP (EC) scheme to assist promising local enterprises and SMEs to go online. We would want our organisations to tap onto the potential growth in the online business. According to recent surveys, Asia Pacific captures 20% of the online business, and this is expected to grow 150% to top US$7 billion in the region.

9. Lastly, we are expecting strong growth (of about 112%) in both content hosting and e-commerce (both B2B and B2C) over the next 2 years. The government has announced a $150 million plan two weeks ago, to stimulate the demand for and supply of Interactive Broadband Multimedia content and services, with the objective to develop Singapore into a vibrant and dynamic Infocomm hub.


10. On this note, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate on its official launch today and wish its management every success in this New Economy.