While tackling Covid-19 remains a priority, the city-state has regained its global focus and businesses are gradually but surely rebounding.
December 16, 2021
Despite the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore is taking center stage amid a resurgence in businesses, a calibrated resumption of travel, and upbeat consumer sentiment. The city-state has clearly regained its confidence as a global financial hub, with the growing number of wealthy entrepreneurs snapping up posh homes in prime residential districts, sending prices to record highs.
Adding to signs that the Singapore economy is returning to normalcy, the nation’s economic growth climbed a reassuring 7.1% in the third quarter compared to the previous year. This nascent recovery has boosted the country’s burgeoning fintech industry and the ever-resilient luxury real estate market. No doubt, the substantial economic stimulus measures announced by the government in the most recent budget has helped to further bolster economic activity across the board.
Peak of Luxury
While the restoration of international links has empowered certain sectors, it’s the legacy of the sundry local lockdowns that has brought added vitality to some businesses. With staying at home required for some people and the preferred choice for others over the past two years, the primacy of having access to truly resplendent residential spaces has never been greater.
Residential spaces don’t come more resplendent than the Wallich Residence, a skyscraper at the heart of Singapore’s central business district. The occupants of one of Singapore’s loftiest living spaces can endure pandemic-enforced confinement in the utmost comfort.
Inevitably, demand has soared for the remaining units in this deluxe abode, which extends from the 39th to 64th floor of the Guoco Tower, the city’s tallest and most exclusive mixed use residential, office and hotel structure. Now that fine dining and cultural exploration are very much back on the menu, the ultra-connectivity of the residence’s city center location has only further enhanced its allure.
With trade rebounding, restrictions on travel being scaled down and supply chains surging back into life, the need for efficient and unfettered digital payments into China has become a priority for many international businesses. This bodes well for Aleta Planet, a Singapore fintech firm that processes cross-border digital payments.
Founded seven years ago, the successful rollout of its flagship AP-1 digital card has positioned Aleta Planet among the major players facilitating rapid and secure payments to China-based business partners and suppliers. AP-1 allows international users to make payments in China without the need for a local bank account.
This app-based system allows payments to be cleared into UnionPay personal accounts worldwide or to qualified WeChat users in China in an instant, much faster than the 2 to 4 business days it takes via telegraphic transfer. With its mainland system in place, the company is looking to replicate its services in other jurisdictions, making it ideally equipped to meet the needs of Singapore’s increasingly global businesses.
Wallich Residence: High-End Working From Home With Ultra-Convenient Connections
Live a life of luxury in Singapore’s tallest skyscraper, while working remotely to overcome every business challenge.
Perched atop Guoco Tower—Singapore’s tallest skyscraper—Wallich Residence offers residents a dynamic blend of commercial, residential, retail, hotel and urban park resources. This iconic 290-meter-high tower has transformed Tanjong Pagar into a bustling commercial and luxury lifestyle hub right in the heart of Singapore’s central business district.
Extending from the 39th to the 64th floor of the Tower, Wallich Residence serves both as a sanctuary and as the most resplendent remote center of operations for Singapore’s foremost families and most influential individuals. Indeed, a commitment to provide the ultimate resources for luxury living is evident in every aspect of this premium residential destination.
Wallich Residence is home to a limited collection of 181 luxury residences, comprising one- to four-bedroom units, four penthouses and one exclusive super penthouse. These meticulously crafted apartments feature exceptional design and impeccable detailing, while providing residents exclusive access to four levels of fabulous amenities that elevate the very concept of a luxury lifestyle to breathtaking new heights.
Ideal for those keen to fully embrace the working-from-home phenomenon, Wallich Residence offers ample space and modern amenities at each apartment and residents can also conduct meetings with business associates or take that important video conference call at the networking suite on level 52. Regardless, they can enjoy panoramic views across the city from the networking suite or their personal balconies. There’s also a 24-hour concierge service that’s always on hand to assist the residents.
When the working day is done, residents have the option of exploring level 39’s magnificent infinity pool or the private library and theatrette on level 52, before catching a glimpse of the sunset from the high perch of the observation platform on level 62. Given such matchless and thoughtfully integrated amenities, it is no surprise that Wallich Residence is now widely regarded as one of the world’s finest working-from-home locales.
Beyond the comforts of Wallich Residence, residents have access to the Guoco Tower’s unique five-in-one integrated development. There is a direct link to the five-star Sofitel Singapore City Centre hotel—an invaluable asset when entertaining and accommodating overseas clients or colleagues. There is also a diverse selection of retail and dining outlets within Guoco Tower that caters to the needs of the residents.
Wallich Residence also has a direct link to the Tanjong Pagar MRT station, allowing residents seamless travel within Singapore. Orchard Road—Singapore’s main shopping street—is a mere five stops away. For global travellers, Changi International Airport is 13 stops via the train or a 15-minute drive along the East Coast Parkway.
Whether working from home or looking to cut commuting time to Singapore‘s CBD to mere minutes, the well-connected, beautifully appointed, luxuriously furnished Wallich Residence offers residents the peak of luxury.
Aleta Planet: Powering Payments With China
Singapore-based fintech firm fuels trade between China and the rest of the world.
Amid the rapid increase in digitalization, global payments solutions are fueling cross-border transactions and accelerating business growth worldwide. Singapore-based fintech firm Aleta Planet has emerged as a key player in this space, after rolling out leading-edge solutions that streamline the payment processes for enterprises or individuals seeking to make payments to China in a simple, fast and secure manner. It helps boost China’s global trade, while supporting the internationalization efforts of Chinese companies.
Many global merchants targeting the Chinese market face various obstacles when integrating payment technologies that suit the preferences of Chinese consumers. The company facilitates payments by enabling merchants to accept QR code-based or e-commerce payments from over 9 billion UnionPay cards issued globally. On the opposite end, Chinese companies are aggressively expanding by setting up regional offices in key hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Malaysia and Australia. Cross-border opportunities are expanding, and this strengthens Aleta Planet’s proposition as a China-centric company based in key hubs to bridge the gap for Chinese companies going global.
“Aleta Planet’s innovative proprietary technology connects businesses and individuals across the globe by facilitating a complete ecosystem, encompassing card issuance, merchant acquisition, remittances and B2B payments. This holistic suite of solutions makes us a natural partner for both global merchants and Chinese companies expanding overseas,” says Ryan Gwee, Aleta Planet’s Founder and Group Chairman.
The firm’s flagship product AP-1—a digital card that enables international users to make payments in China, without the need for a local bank account—plugs a critical gap in the market, as many retailers in China do not accept cash given the popularity and convenience of mobile payments via QR codes.
“It is one of the first few foreign cards to leverage on China’s unified QR system, which pushes a single QR code for all major payment systems such as WeChat Pay,” says Gwee. “The card will appeal to individuals who frequently travel to China, or those with family and friends in China.”
The card sits within an app that enables users to make payments anywhere using their mobile phones by scanning or generating QR codes. AP-1 users are also able to remit funds to UnionPay personal accounts worldwide or to qualified WeChat users in China in an instant, much faster than the average 2 to 4 business days that it typically takes for a remittance to go through telegraphic transfer.
Beyond UnionPay, Aleta Planet is WeChat Pay and PayNow enabled, and has expanded its network of cards to include JCB, Discover, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard, in line with the company’s vision of offering a super app that can hold multiple cards. By using geopositioning technology, the firm’s innovative solution can automatically pre-enroll cardholders for the best location-based card benefits.
Aleta Planet was established in 2014 in Singapore by a team of professionals with strong business and technology expertise in the financial services sector. Licensed by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as a major payment institution, it has offices in Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Gwee, together with Peter Lim, Regional Head for North Asia, and Stephen Richards Evans, Regional CEO for Europe, Middle East & Africa, previously held senior positions at global banks, focusing on managing and growing the business with China. The team has an in-depth understanding of the nuances of the Chinese system and banking network given their experience dealing with Chinese corporations, financial institutions and government agencies.
Empowering Technology Platforms
Technology companies are leveraging Aleta Planet’s payments solutions. It works with Lakala, a leading financial services platform in the mainland, to help Chinese merchants collect payments quickly and securely from offshore customers. Licensed by People’s Bank of China and listed on Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Lakala serves over 25 million merchants.
Aleta Planet has also partnered with Singapore-based DiMuto, a provider of end-to-end supply chain visibility technology platform for the global trade of fresh produce. Under the partnership, Aleta Planet issues UnionPay commercial accounts to DiMuto users and provides a seamless e-wallet function within DiMuto’s platform via a customized application programming interface that enables a payment superhighway into China and 140 other countries.
The traceability of money flows and visibility of food quality afforded by this partnership allow buyers and sellers to obtain trade financing solutions, which were previously not made available by banks for “high-risk” perishable goods such as agricultural produce.
“The collaboration between Aleta Planet and DiMuto aims to bring to the table an ecosystem where fresh produce buyers and traders from all over the world can leverage on one platform that oversees the end-to-end process, from order placement, delivery to payment, in an effective and hassle-free manner,” says Lim.
Aleta Planet’s payments solutions are also designed to help enterprises manage their businesses. For instance, the AP-1 Business Account provides a digital account for businesses to collect sales settlements, and remit renminbi payments directly and promptly into their Chinese suppliers’ UnionPay commercial accounts.
This feature is especially crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises that are facing obstacles when expanding into the Chinese market due to payments issues. While governments and large institutions tend to have the banking capabilities to make payments in China smoothly, SMEs often encounter problems due to the country’s strict capital controls.
“Almost half of the payments to China are either delayed or rejected,” says Lim. “Aleta Planet’s proprietary platform, which had passed China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s stringent requirements, focuses on providing SMEs with a secure and cost-efficient way to pay into China. With certainty of payments to suppliers, goods are shipped in a timely manner and business operations can flow smoothly.”
With the pandemic boosting e-commerce, Aleta Planet also helps retailers to find ways to better engage their digitally-savvy customers and generate new revenue streams. One such initiative is the development of the app and payment gateway for a customised co-branded digital card.
An example of such a card is PacPay, which Aleta Planet developed in partnership with boxing champion, Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao. The card functions as a mobile ecosystem for Pacquiao’s fans, supporting QR code payments, and providing loyalty points, mobile games and collection of exclusive memorabilia.
A Holistic Solution
Aleta Planet’s technological solution offers a number of important advantages over rival offerings. Unlike traditional transaction flows which involve an intermediary or processing banks, the company’s platform does not involve third-party service providers. Instead, Aleta Planet connects individuals and businesses directly and assumes the roles of issuer, acquirer, and payment service provider.
“Aleta Planet’s proprietary system allows it to support faster cross-border payments with greater certainty of success,” says Evans. “This is superior to existing methods like telegraphic transfers with traditional banks, which routes payments through multiple intermediary banks, adding to costs, complexity and delays.”
Reflecting the success of its innovative offerings, Aleta Planet recently won 2nd place in the Singapore FinTech Festival Global FinTech Awards 2021 presented by the MAS, and the Technology Excellence Award for remittance at the Singapore Business Review Technology Excellence Awards 2021. It was also among the Top 10 Fintech Solutions Provider chosen by the APAC CIO Outlook last year.
Looking ahead, Aleta Planet aims to expand beyond its China and UnionPay focus. As it continues to be the preferred payment platform for Chinese businesses expanding overseas, the company is broadening its global footprint by entering new markets in Africa and Asia through mergers and acquisitions. “With this comprehensive offering, Aleta Planet seeks to expand partnerships and collaborations beyond China to the rest of the world,” Evans says.