Digital trade widens horizon for Singaporean firms

Consumers and businesses are optimistic about the globalised economy, with businesses looking to expand into new international markets, and consumers increasingly willing to purchase cross-border goods and services online, according to a report from Stripe. 

The report draws on aggregated transaction data from the Stripe platform as well as surveys with 1,700 business leaders and 11,500 consumers across nine global markets.

These include : Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

Findings show that despite macroeconomic challenges, both businesses and consumers are optimistic about buying and selling more outside of Singapore. Among firms, 84% are planning to expand into other countries within the next two years, while 30% expect more than 75% growth internationally over the next five years. 

Businesses in Singapore feel there are fewer restrictions on how they operate today compared to the past. About three-fifths (59%) think it is easier to run an international business today than it was five years ago and only 25% find it harder to do so. 

Among consumers 84% of Singaporeans are now open to buying physical goods cross-border, while 74% are open to buying digital services. 

Also, digital exports are leveling the playing field and allowing businesses of all sizes—from “single-person multinationals” to large and predominantly offline traditional enterprises—to access global markets. 

Globally, 81% of sole proprietor businesses now sell internationally, heralding the rise of single-person multinationals. Of these, 18% sell to more than 11 global markets. 

Large traditional enterprises—often with thousands of employees—are also leaning into cross-border expansion. From 2021 to 2022, there was a 61% growth in Singaporean enterprises selling internationally via digital channels on Stripe. 

Globally, 51% of enterprises plan to expand further internationally in the next two years. 

Traditional, offline industries—such as education—are also transforming in a digitised global economy, with 88% selling internationally today, and 70% planning to expand further internationally in the next two years. 

While many of the fastest-growing digital export routes are between neighboring countries, there are striking exceptions. The fastest growing digital export market for Singaporean businesses is Japan, with 60% year-on-year growth from 2021 to 2022. 

The overall geographic scale of digital export routes is also broadening for all countries analysed in the report. Based on Stripe transaction data from 2022, the top five digital export markets for Australia, Mexico, Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom stretch to three continents. 

For Singaporean businesses, the top 5 digital export markets in 2023 are the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Japan. 

“Digital trade is creating opportunities for businesses to expand their total addressable markets, but success never comes easily,” said Mike Clayville, chief customer officer at Stripe. 

“Businesses need simple financial infrastructure that just works, no matter where they sell to,” said Clayville. “Our findings show businesses are increasingly taking advantage of this potential—and that’s something to celebrate.”