Local payment performance showed improvement with higher proportion of prompt and partial payments made in Q2 2015. The improvement in payment performance marked a reverse in the downtrend seen in Q1 2015 when prompt payments fell into a near double-dip. For Q2 2015, prompt payments accounted for nearly half of the payment transactions made while partial payments regarded for more than one-tenth of payment transactions.

Meanwhile, slow payments have also decreased, contributing to slightly more than two-fifths of payment transactions. The better showing stands in contrast to Q1 2015 when prompt payments accounted for less than two-fifths and slow payments made up more than half of the total payment transactions. The improved payment performance comes on the back of a cyclical upturn in the wholesale trade sector and modest expansions in both construction and services sectors.

According to Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB)’s current payment statistics, overall prompt payments increased greatly by 9.43 percentage points on a quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis from 39.04% in Q1 2015 to 48.47% in Q2 2015. In contrast to a year ago, prompt payments have increased on a small scale by 1.09 percentage points from 47.38% in Q2 2014 to 48.47 Q2 2015. The current figure marks the second highest reading within a year when prompt payments were at a one-year high of 50.07% in Q4 2014.

Overall, slow payments improved as payment delays fell by 10.06 percentage points q-o-q from 51.41% in Q1 2015 to 41.35% in Q2 2015. However, year-on-year (y-o-y) slow payments moved slightly upwards by 0.25 percentage points from 41.10% in Q2 2014 to 41.35% in Q2 2015. Following two consecutive quarters of decline, partial payments increased minimally by 0.63 percentage points from 9.55% in Q1 2015 to 10.18% in Q2 2015. Y-o-y, partial payments noted a decrease, falling by 1.34 percentage points from 11.52% in Q2 2014 to 10.18% in Q2 2015.

Sectorial outlook, payment performance has improved with all five industries noting a decrease in proportion of slow payments q-o-q. This stands in contrast to Q1 2015 when all five industries faced a rise in slow payments. This also marks the first time in nearly three years when all sectors experienced q-o-q declines in slow payments in Q3 2012. However, on a y-o-y basis, two of five industries experienced an increase in slow payments in Q2 2015.

Manufacturing

For the second consecutive quarter, the manufacturing sector noted the highest proportion of slow payments, which has remained almost unchanged in Q2 2015.

  • According to SCCB, slow payments dropped by a mere 0.01 percentage points from 53.06% in Q1 2015 to 53.05% in Q2 2015 q-o-q.
  • Transportation equipment manufacturers recorded the highest proportion of payment delays at 53.25%, impacted by weakness in the transport-engineering cluster.
  • Print and publishing, and petroleum and coal recorded the second and third largest of payment delays at 52.62% and 49.15% respectively.
  • Meanwhile, leather and leather products manufacturers faced the highest increase in slow payments by 12.03 percentage points from 14.29% in Q1 2015 to 26.32% in Q2 2015

Retail

The retail sector noted the second highest proportion of slow payments, a result of the modest growth and reduced spending in both discretionary and non-discretionary goods within the sector.

  • According to SCCB, slow payments fell slightly by 0.15 percentage points from 52.82% in Q1 2015 to 52.67% in Q2 2015 q-o-q.
  • As consumer spending and retail expenditure continued to ease, retailers of food, beverage, and general merchandise goods recorded the largest increase in slow payments. Slow payments by retailers of food & beverage increased by 10.07 percentage points from 55.62% in Q1 2015 to 65.69% in Q2 2015, while payment delays by retailers of general merchandise goods increased by 7.67 percentage points from 45.98% in Q1 2015 to 53.65% in Q2 2015.
  • On a y-o-y basis, payment delays increased by 3.38 percentage points from 49.29% in Q2 2014 to 52.67% in Q2 2015.
  • The retail sector is the only other sector apart from the manufacturing sector that has experienced y-o-y increase in payment delays.

Wholesale Trade

The wholesale trade sector experienced the lowest fall in slow payments thanks to a turnaround in the wholesale trade of both durable and non-durable goods.

  • According to SCCB, slow payments within the wholesale trade sector fell significantly by 15.03 percentage points from 48.56% in Q1 2015 to 33.53% in Q2 2015.
  • The wholesale trade of durable goods fell by 16.44 percentage points from 50.26% in Q1 2015 to 33.82% in Q2 2015 while the wholesale trade of non-durable goods fell by 17.0 percentage points from 49.52% in Q1 2015 to 32.52% in Q2 2015.
  • On a y-o-y basis, payment delays within the wholesale trade sector fell marginally by 0.19 percentage points from 33.72% in Q2 2014 to 33.53% in Q2 2015.

Services

Due to a slight increase in both consumer and corporate-related services, the services sector experienced the second highest decrease in slow payments for Q2 2015.

  • According to SCCB, q-o-q payment delays fell markedly by 9.08 percentage points from 52.64% in Q1 2015 to 43.56% per cent in Q2 2015.
  • The legal services sub-sector recorded the largest fall in slow payments by 16.72 percentage points from 50.18% in Q1 2015 to 33.46 per cent in Q2 2015.
  • Backed by resilient demand for architectural engineering services, the engineering services sub-sector experienced the second largest fall in payment delays by 10.30% from 52.65% in Q1 2015 to 42.35% in Q2 2015.
  • With the sustained expansion in corporate-facing services, the business services sub-sector noted the third largest fall in payment delays by 8.52 percentage points from 53.09% in Q1 2015 to 44.57% in Q2 2015.
  • On a y-o-y basis, payment delays within the services sector decreased marginally by 0.29 percentage points from 43.85% in Q2 2014 to 43.56% in Q2 2015.

Construction

Due to expansion in both private and public residential segments, the construction sector noted a decrease in slow payments for the first time in two consecutive quarters since Q3 2014. Last quarter, the construction sector recorded the smallest increase in payment delays against the other sectors.

  • According to SCCB, q-o-q payment delays fell significantly by 4.71 percentage points from 50.78% in Q1 2015 to 46.07% in Q2 2015.
  • The improvement in payment performance attributed largely by a decrease in slow payments by special trade contractors, slipping by 6.24 percentage points from 49.29% in Q1 2015 to 43.05% in Q2 2015.
  • Payment delays by the building construction sector dropped marginally by 0.32 percentage points from 48.43% in Q1 2015 to 48.11% in Q2 2015, while slow payments within the heavy construction sub-sector decreased by 1.01 percentage points from 49.43% in Q1 2015 to 48.42% in Q2 2015.
  • On a y-o-y basis, payment delays within the construction sector decreased significantly by 5.37 percentage points from 51.44% in Q2 2014 to 46.07% in Q2 2015.

“The increase in both prompt and partial payments for Q2 is indicative of improved cash flows of firms and their ability to meet their debt obligations. However, we found the improvements in slow payments across the different sectors to be uneven, with the manufacturers and retailers experiencing only a marginal decrease in payment delays. Incidentally, these were also the only two sectors which had more than half of their payment transactions delayed in Q2.” commented Ms. Audrey Chia, D&B Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer.

“With the ongoing domestic supply side constraints and tepid growth in the external economy, it is unclear if the uptrend will continue into the rest of the year. Moreover, the improvements in payment performance were due to cyclical upswings in certain sectors. It would be prudent for firms to take into account any seasonal fluctuations in managing risks and planning for their cash flows. Proactive management of cashflows is a necessity not just in times of uncertainties but also under buoyant economic conditions.” added Ms. Chia.

D&B Singapore compiles the figures by monitoring more than 1.6 million payment transactions of firms operating through its Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB).Local firms provide the payment data to the Bureau. Prompt payment is when at least 90% of total bills paid within the agreed payment terms, while slow payment notes when more than 50% of total bills paid is later than the agreed credit terms.