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KUALA LUMPUR: Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia expects its small and medium enterprises (SME) segment to chart double-digit growth for the coming year, backed by stronger offerings for its customers.

“We are hoping to double our market share over the next three years,” said general manager for SME banking, Standard Chartered Malaysia, Vishal Shah.

Vishal declined to reveal StanChart Malaysia’s market share at the moment, saying that since SMEs cover a wide range of industries, it is hard to interpret an exact figure.

“However, over the past three years we have seen high double-digit growth, between 17% and 18%, for our SME business. This is in terms of revenue and customer balances. So going forward, we are aiming to maintain that level of growth,” said Vishal.

Globally, the SME market is seen as an increasingly important contributor to StanChart Malaysia.

“Between 24% and 30% of StanChart’s consumer banking revenue comes from the SME segment,” said the global head for SME banking, Standard Chartered Bank, Som Subroto.

“Our ambition is to be the leading international bank for SMEs, building the segment into a multi-billion dollar business over the next three to four years.”

Vishal and Som were speaking to reporters after the launch of StanChart Malaysia’s new SME offerings.

Som said StanChart Malaysia’s new SME offerings comprise the best of the solutions for both its retail and corporate segments. Each SME product offers a dedicated relationship backed by a team of specialists and provides easy access to financial services after having invested significantly in infrastructure.

“Our strengthened customer offering is timely in view of the government’s rising interest in spurring the development of a more diverse, competitive and high-growth SME sector,” said Vishal.

According to reports, SMEs comprise 56% of Malaysia’s total workforce and contribute 31% to the country’s GDP.

On whether the current global uncertainty would have an impact on SME activity, Vishal said, “There is no doubt that there will be some impact. However, we are cautiously optimistic for the coming year.”

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, December 1, 2011.

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