May 20, 2020
COVID-19 has disrupted the global economy; most of the world is in lockdown as it battles to flatten the bell curve in the countries. Yet, it has not changed history. Singapore was already on the move to digitalise the nation since 2014 under its Smart Nation’s initiative, and COVID-19 only accelerated these works.
Digital solutions are now part and parcel of our lives; everything is going digital. Digitalisation of contact tracing plays an important role in Singapore’s efforts to actively sieve out asymptomatic carriers of the virus based on whether they have contact with a confirmed case in the past 11 days. In fact, Singapore was one of the first in the world to launch a contact-tracing app. As of 22 May 2020, approximately 20% of the population has since downloaded the app on a voluntary basis. Efforts are ongoing to enhance the app and include a portable device that enables contact tracing in which the people can bring along with them wherever they go (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2020).
In the corporate sector, telecommuting was largely unheard of in 2013. It was just a concept, and some even perceive it as “giving people time off for no reason” as mentioned by Ms Joerin Yao, managing director of human resource consultancy Enable Group. In the recent years, employees telecommute once or twice a year at best. Today, it is the norm as employees in the non-essential business work from home whenever possible. In fact, Twitter is the one of the companies that has allowed its employees to work from home for the rest of 2020 (Tang, 2020).
In the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector, demand for food deliveries has also increased at approximately 20 to 30 per cent as people stay home in compliance with the nation’s circuit breaker measures. Another reason behind the spike in the use of the ecommerce platforms is because people are sending these items to their loved ones and friends, to stay connected with them (Toh, 2020).
As F&D places going digital, the use of e-payments has become more prevalent as businesses go online to stay in business. Since April this year, another 50,000 businesses have since utilised PayNOW Corporate. The Fortitude Budget also include a pay-out of up to $5,000 for eligible businesses should they adopt PayNOW Corporate and e-invoicing. Additionally, stallholders in hawker centres get a bonus of $300 per month over a period of five months to get more of them on board the digital transformation (Singapore Budget, 2020).
With the COVID-19 situation, life after circuit breaker will never be the same. Singapore will continue on its tracks to be a digitalised nation. The rise of digital economy is now as world leaders attempt to reopen their economies while managing the COVID-19 situation in their own countries. In a period of uncertainty and high unemployment, the digital economy will create more opportunities and jobs for the businesses and people (Zakir, 2020).
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2020). Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s Skype Interview with Sky News Australia. Retreived from Ministry of Foreign Affairs: https://www.mfa.gov.sg/Newsroom/Press-Statements-Transcripts-and-Photos/2020/05/20200522-Sky-News-Australia-FM.
Singapore Budget. (2020). Fortitude Budget Statement. Retrieved from Singapore Budget: https://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2020/fortitude-budget/fortitude-budget-statement.
Tang, S. K. (2020). Goodbye office: Is the future of work in our homes? Retrieved from Channel News Asia: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/goodbye-office-work-from-home-future-covid-19-12758558.
Toh, T. T. (2020). Food delivery sector booms in a time of coronavirus. Retrieved from Straits Times: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/sector-booms-in-a-time-of-coronavirus.
Zakir, H. (2020). Digital economy deals will create opportunities for Singapore: Iswaran. Retrieved from Straits Times: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/digital-economy-deals-will-create-opportunities-for-spore-iswaran