SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) Businesses here have come in tops in a DBS survey of the digital readiness of corporates in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with 45 per cent of local businesses indicating they have a well-defined digital strategy.

Hong Kong came in second at 44 per cent, while Japan – which came in first last year – was third this year at 41 per cent. Businesses in the Philippines and Vietnam came in fourth and fifth, at 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

The DBS 2020 Digital Treasurer Survey released on Tuesday polled around 1,700 corporate treasurers, chief executives, chief financial officers and business owners.

The bank said 99 per cent of APAC businesses in the survey indicated they are facing external pressures to transform digitally, citing a more competitive landscape characterised by supply chain disruptions, and the Covid-19 outbreak hastening the pace of digitalisation.

The top three digitalisation challenges businesses said they faced were the speed of change, execution complexity and lack of digital talent.

Meanwhile, those polled said cash management and trade/supply chain financing were their two biggest investment areas in terms of digital spend.

DBS’s survey also found that 80 per cent of Singapore businesses prefer fintech companies as digitalisation partners. This preference was also observed in developed APAC markets including Hong Kong (73 per cent) and China (69 per cent), DBS said.

On the other hand, the vast majority of businesses in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea favoured banks as digitalisation partners.

DBS said the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) and enterprise cloud solutions in bank connectivity is expected to continue gaining traction among APAC businesses.

In particular, a big shift to cloud is expected in the next three years, as it has proven a useful tool for businesses to migrate data seamlessly, it added.

The lender said APIs are the most popular mode for bank connectivity, with 48 per cent of the survey’s respondents using it in their operations. Meanwhile, 31 per cent of respondents said they used cloud-based solutions.

Six in 10 respondents said they were looking to implement cloud-based solutions in the next three years, with three in 10 planning to implement cloud infrastructure in the coming 12 months, it added.