How to Use the Best Cloud Database for Your Business

28/09/2017

The importance of a database to run your online business platform cannot be gainsaid. There is a big difference between websites that are run on reliable databases and those that are not. From high bounce rates to poor conversion, it easy to tell if your choice of database is costing you valuable business.

The right database choice gives you a competitive edge in your niche by making it possible to leverage the data you are accumulating through analytics.  Your site will also enjoy better server response, which is something users are looking for when browsing. There are many other benefits of using a high-performance database.

Benefits of a Cloud Based Database

To harness the full power of a database, it is highly advisable to go for a cloud based database. You can choose between:

  • Traditional cloud model: In this model, the cloud database is run on your company’s infrastructure. If there are any problems, your staff will shoulder the blame.
  • Database-as-a-service (DBaaS): This model of cloud database runs on the service provider’s infrastructure. The service provider is responsible for any technical issues that arise.

Choosing between the two models and more importantly the service provider to use is tricky for businesses. This is where the input of remote DBA expert services comes in handy by helping you to evaluate your database management needs and helping with ongoing administration.

Related reading: 4 tips for saving time on small business administration

There are several advantages of choosing a cloud database over any other model in the market. These include:

  1. Cost savings: You will not have any need for physical infrastructure as the service provider is in control of everything. This saves you a lot of money, which is crucial in these tough economic times.
  2. Scalability: When starting a business, your objective is to grow and the database you choose should allow for this. Cloud storage is scalable depending on your growing business demands. Cloud-hosted databases can now be scaled quickly without breaking the bank.
  3. Minimizing administrative burden: It is easy to manage your cloud-based database and while self-managed databases still require a DBA, there are many features which are eliminated and they make the work of a DBA easier. These databases allow you to outsource a remote DBA and minimize costs of operations.
  4. New technologies: Your database will benefit from the latest technologies and you will not even have to worry about it. The service provider is responsible for all upgrades to the database infrastructure.
  5. Enhanced security: This is one advantage that runs across all cloud-based services. The cloud company provides the latest security updates to guarantee your business data is safe.

Outstanding Cloud Databases

When choosing cloud database services, you will come across a large number of options. Among the most outstanding cloud database services you will find are:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Microsoft Azure DocumentDB
  • Microsoft Azure SQL Database
  • Cloud SQL by Google
  • Oracle Database as a Service
  • Garantia Data
  • EnterpriseDB
  • Xeround

These cloud databases offer different capabilities including flexibility, high-level security encryption, Big Query analysis tool, high-performance solid-state drives, limitless scalability, in-memory caching service and much more. Your DBA will help you analyze your business needs before choosing the best cloud database service.

Author Bio

This is a guest post submitted by Sujain Thomas, and edited by Zegal.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Sujain Thomas is a diehard cloud computing evangelist. She currently offers remote DBA expert services in New York. To learn more about database administration, visit this website.

Key Takeaways From The Recent CPF Arrears Report

22/09/2017

Based on the recent article from Channel NewsAsia, it reported that a record of SGD635.1 million in Central Provident Fund (CPF) arrears was recovered in 2016 from employers who had underpaid, did not pay or made late payments of CPF contributions.

The CPF is a compulsory comprehensive savings plan for working Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. This compulsory savings plan is primarily used to fund retirement, healthcare and housing needs. Contributions to this mandatory savings scheme is funded from both employers and employees.

Related reading: What are my CPF contribution obligations as an employer in Singapore?

From the article, the recovered amount was owed to more than 380,000 employees. About SGD19.7 million worth of CPF arrears recovered was due to underpayment or non-payment by 1,608 companies. The remaining SGD615.4 million recovered was due to employers being late in making CPF contributions. Additionally, this late CPF contributions arose from an average of about 5,440 employers each month in 2016.

Underpayment or non-payment of CPF to your employees can incur hefty fines and potentially imprisonment for recurring offenders. Here are some key takeaways from this CPF arrears report.

Who is entitled to CPF contributions

The article mentioned that the CPF board was alerted of a case whereby a restaurant was not paying CPF for their part-time employees. After a field visit, the employer claimed that he was not aware that part-time employers were also eligible for CPF contributions.

Essentially, CPF contributions are payable when there is an employer-employee relationship. Moreover, employers are required to pay both the employer and employee’s share of CPF contributions every month. CPF contributions are payable for Singapore citizens and Singapore permanent residents who are working in Singapore under a contract of services as well as employee under a permanent, part-time or casual basis.

CPF contributions rate

The CPF contribution rates is dependent on the citizenship, age as well as the wages of the employees. A detailed breakdown of the contribution rates can be found on the CPF website here. Do note that there are two different classifications for your employee wages – Ordinary Wages (OW) and Additional Wages (AW). It is crucial to understand the correct classification because there are different ceilings for both OW and AW, which will in turn affect the amount of CPF contribution payable.

The OW are typically wages granted wholly and exclusively in respect of an employee’s employment in that month. One such example is the monthly salary. The OW ceiling limits the amount of OW that is eligible for CPF contributions. Currently, the OW ceiling is capped at SGD6,000. For instance, if your employee’s OW for a calendar month is SGD7,000, his CPF contribution would be computed based on an OW of SGD6,000. CPF contribution is not required for the remaining SGD1,000.

AW are wages which are not granted wholly and exclusively for the month. It could also be wages paid at intervals of more than a month. Examples of AW are annual bonus and leave pay. The AW ceiling is computed based on total wages received by the employee – total OW subjected to CPF for the year.

Late payment or failure to pay CPF

Late payment or non-payment of CPF contributions will result in interest on late payment as well as imposition of a composition amount. Given that interest on late payment is calculated daily at a rate of 1.5% per month, it is imperative to ensure timely and correct CPF contributions to avoid incurring these hefty penalties. For employers who do not comply with the CPF Act or Employment Act, this might result in hefty court fines as well as a minimum of 6 months’ imprisonment.

To find out if your workers are eligible for CPF contributions as well as the CPF contribution rates, do check out the CPF employer guide here.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

What are my CPF contribution obligations as an employer in Singapore?

In a country that is full of acronyms, another acronym that is frequently used in Singapore is “CPF”. Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme has undergone many changes since its introduction, with the age at which citizens can withdraw their CPF raised over the years.

As an employer with obligations to contribute to your employee’s CPF account, it is crucial that you stay on top of changes to the CPF scheme. Here, we tell you what you need to know about your employer contribution obligations when it comes to the CPF.

What is the Central Provident Fund (CPF)?

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a mandatory social security savings scheme funded by contributions from both employers and employees. The CPF primarily goes towards meeting the retirement, housing and healthcare needs of Singaporeans.

Working Singaporeans and their employers are required to make monthly contributions to the CPF, which go into 3 accounts:

  1. Ordinary Account: Primarily for retirement and housing needs;
  2. Special Account: Primarily for retirement needs;
  3. Medisave Account: Primarily for healthcare needs.

In what situations am I required to pay CPF contributions for my employees?

If your employee earns more than SGD 50 per month, you are required to pay CPF contributions as an employer. If your employee earns more than SGD 500 per month, you are entitled to recover the employee’s share from the employee’s wages.

Several requirements must be met before an employer is liable to pay CPF contributions for his employee. The employee must be:

  • a Singapore Citizen (SC) or Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR);
  • working in Singapore under a contract of service; and
  • employed under a permanent, part-time or casual basis.  

CPF contributions for a SC or SPR working overseas is not mandatory.

A contract of service in this case essentially refers to an Employment Contract that defines the employer-employee relationship, including the terms and conditions of employment.

Learn more about the CPF contribution for employees.

Am I only required to pay CPF contributions for my employees’ base monthly salary?

CPF contributions are calculated based on an employee’s total wages. The total wages for a given calendar month is the sum of an employee’s Ordinary Wages (OW) for the month and the Additional Wages (AW) paid to him in that month.

There are different ceilings for OW and AW, which refers to the amount of OW or AW that would attract CPF contributions. It is important to classify the wages correctly as this will in turn affect the amount of CPF contribution payable.

Ordinary Wages (OW)

Ordinary Wages (OW) are:

  • wages due or granted wholly and exclusively in respect of an employee’s employment in that month; and
  • wages payable before the due date for payment of CPF contributions for that month.

An example of OW is the monthly salary.

The OW Ceiling is capped at $6,000 currently. For example, if an employee’s OW for a calendar month is $6,700, his CPF contribution would be computed based on an OW of $6,000; CPF contribution is not required on the remaining $700.

Additional Wages (AW)

​Additional Wages (AW) are:

  • wages which are not granted wholly and exclusively for the month; or
  • wages made at intervals of more than a month.

Apart from the monthly salary, there are other types of payments which you may make to your employees which may also attract CPF contributions, including:

  • Overtime pay (only applicable to workmen and employees with basic monthly salaries not exceeding $4,500 and $2,500 respectively);
  • Cash incentives (e.g. Good Service Awards);
  • Allowances (e.g. meal, transport, laundry);
  • Bonuses;
  • Commissions.

Source: CPF Board
The amount of CPF contributions payable on AW from 2016 onwards is capped at the yearly AW Ceiling of $102,000 with the total OW subject to CPF for the year deducted.

AW Ceiling = $102,000* – Total OW subject to CPF for the year


The AW Ceiling is applied on a per employer per year basis. Employers are required to monitor and limit the contributions on Additional Wages of their employees. This is to prevent refund of excess payment and avoid situations where refunds cannot be made due to insufficient funds in their employees’ CPF accounts.

To calculate the Additional Wage Ceiling for private sector employees, use the online calculator provided by the CPF Board.

What are my CPF contribution rates as an employer?

There are two key terms that you need to be familiar with as an employer:

  • Contribution rate: This refers to the total rate that employers and employees have to contribute to the employee’s CPF.
  • Allocation rate: This refers to the various rates that are allocated into the different CPF accounts (namely the Ordinary Account, Special Account, and Medisave Account).

As an employer, you are required to make CPF contributions at the monthly rates stated in the CPF Act. The CPF contribution and allocation rates vary depending on your employee’s citizenship, age group and total wages for the calendar month.

The CPF contribution rates that are applicable would depend on the category that employees fall into:

  1. Singapore Citizens & Singapore Permanent Residents (3rd Year Onwards)
  2. Singapore Permanent Residents (first 2 years of obtaining SPR status)

Category #1: Singapore Citizens & Singapore Permanent Residents (3rd Year Onwards)

These contribution rates apply to private sector and public sector non-pensionable employees who fall into one of the following categories:

  • Singapore Citizen;
  • SPR from the third year of obtaining SPR status; or
  • SPR during the first two years of obtaining SPR status but who has jointly applied with employer to contribute at full employer-full employee rates.

The current CPF contribution rates applicable to private sector and public sector non-pensionable employees are laid out in the following table:

Employee’s age (years)

Contribution Rates from 1 Jan 2016 (for monthly wages SGD 750)  

By Employer (% of wage) By Employee (% of wage)

Total (% of wage)

55 and below 17 20 37
Above 55 to 60 13 13 26
Above 60 to 65 9 7.5 16.5
Above 65 7.5 5 12.5

 

For the current CPF contribution rates applicable to public sector pensionable employees and a more detailed breakdown of the CPF contribution rates for this category of employees, refer to the CPF Contribution Rates Table available on the CPF Board website.

Category #2: Singapore Permanent Residents (first 2 years of obtaining SPR status)

Employers in Singapore are not required to pay CPF for their foreign employees. However, once your foreign employee successfully obtains SPR status, you will have to pay CPF contributions. CPF contributions are payable at lower rates (known as graduated employer-graduated employee contribution rates) during the first two years of obtaining SPR status. From the third year onwards, both you and your SPR employee will contribute to CPF at regular rates (i.e. those set out in Category #1 above).

For private sector and public sector non-pensionable employees who are in their first two years of obtaining SPR status, refer to the CPF Contribution Rates Table available on the CPF Board website.

This all seems very complicated. How do I calculate the CPF contributions payable for my employees?

In order to determine the CPF contribution rates applicable to you as an employer, log on to CPF e-Submit@web, the free web-based application developed by CPF Board that auto-computes the CPF contributions.

What are the consequences if I fail to pay CPF?

Frequent mistakes made by employers when determining CPF contributions include the following:

  • Non-payment of CPF contributions for employees under part-time/temporary and/or casual employment’  
  • Non-payment of CPF contributions for full time employees who have requested not to have CPF contributions so that they can have higher take-home pay;
  • Underpayment of CPF contributions when wages are not paid monthly.

Employers who do not comply with the CPF Act may be liable to:

  • Late payment interest charged at 18% per annum (1.5% per month), starting from the first day of the following month after the contributions are due. The minimum interest payable is $5 per month.
  • A fine of up to $5,000 and no less than $1,000 per offence and/or up to 6 months jail.
  • A fine of up to $10,000 and no less than $2,000 per offence and/or 12 months jail for repeat offenders.
  • Fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to 7 years or both if you deduct your employee’s share of CPF contributions but fail to pay the contributions to CPF Board.

Claim your free trial. Start drafting legal documents with Zegal today.

Fintech solutions for startups & small businesses in New Zealand

According to a study by Accenture, fintech investment in Asia-Pacific skyrocketed in 2015, from about USD 880 million in all of 2014 to nearly USD 3.5 billion in just the first nine months of 2015. In New Zealand, experts observe that fintech has grown despite the lack of a clear strategy from the government, with initiatives such as the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator programme launched in late 2016. FinTechNZ, a financial innovation and technology association in New Zealand, was launched earlier this year.

Source: Accenture
As the financial services industry began to embrace the potential of fintech, it is important to remember that the benefits of fintech are not just limited to just that few industries or sectors. Given that fintech redefines the way that we borrow, lend, save, store and transfer money, business owners and startup founders also stand to gain.

Related reading: Navigating The Regulatory Challenges Of #FinTech

Here, we give you the lowdown on key fintech startups in New Zealand that will make the lives of small businesses and startups easier.

For fundraising: Equitise

Founded in 2014 by a team with backgrounds in law, investment banking, financial services and equity capital markets, Equitise is a online equity crowdfunding platform that brings together investors and startups, enabling New Zealand startups to raise capital from the crowd. According to co-founder Chris Gilbert, raising capital through a platform like Equitise often leads to greater after-market support for the stocks, due to the broader base of shareholders.

Now that the Australian government has passed the first wave of crowdfunding legislation to enable companies to raise capital from mum and dad investors under certain conditions, as well as sophisticated investors, the future of Equitise looks bright as it will be launching in Australia.  

Equity crowdfunding is well suited to B2C companies, as such companies can leverage their customer database by inviting them to invest in the offer. This would allow the company to simultaneously use the fundraising process as a marketing campaign.

For insurance: Insurely

Occupying a sub-category of fintech known as insurtech, Insurely is an online platform that helps small to medium businesses to research, choose, and apply for insurance policies. As one of the first batch in the Kiwibank Accelerator programme, Insurely received NZD 20,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6% equity. The platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to give users advice and bring clarity and management to small to medium business’ insurance policy management.

For sales: Vend

Source: Vend

Founded in 2009, Vend now has 200 staff in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) and retail platform enables retailers to accept payments, sell in-store and online, manage their inventor, reward customer loyalty, and report on their business in real-time. This allows business owners to coordinate their sales across multiple retail platforms, analyse their sales data and make better data-supported sales decisions.

Vend has integrations with other digital platforms, such as e-commerce platform Shopify and cloud-based accounting software Xero.

For accounting: Xero

Source: Xero

Having been around for more than ten years, cloud-based accounting software Xero can hardly be considered a startup. Founded in 2006 in New Zealand, Xero now leads the New Zealand, Australian and United Kingdom cloud accounting markets. Xero’s software provides business owners with real-time visibility of their financial position.

Xero has racked up an impressive array of accolades, including the Best Overall Fintech award at the Fintech Breakthrough Award 2017. More impressively, Xero has integrations with more than 500 apps acros a range of industries and business functions, including inventory, time tracking, and debtor tracking.

Learn how to manage your legal & accounting needs with Zegal’s Xero Integration

Does your company in New Zealand use a fintech solution?

Share with us in the comments below!

5 exciting startups spotted at SWITCH Singapore 2017

It was an excitement-filled three days at the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH), where the Zegal team in Singapore had a booth.

Related reading: 3 takeaways from Day 1 of SWITCH Singapore 2017

While SWITCH may be over, the grind continues for all the amazing people that we met at the conference. Here, we bring you a list of five exciting startups that we encountered during our time at SWITCH.

Edtech: 3DBear

Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, 3DBear is building an online learning tool for 3D modelling, 3D printing and augmented reality. At present, 3DBear is a game that runs on a tablet, which the makers claim “hides all the complexity of 3d-printing and makes it child’s play”. The team launched in the US early on.

Source: 3DBear

Last September, the team raised euro 120,000 in funding, putting it in a good position to find the sweet spot between 3D printing, pedagogy and gamification. In April this year, 3DBear signed an agreement with Junior Library Guild that serves over 22,000 schools and libraries in the US and looks set to grow its presence.

Corporate analytics: Handshakes

Owned by Singapore-based fintech company DC Frontiers, Handshakes is an corporate intelligence platform that provides users actionable insights on people and companies from curated sources. Following a tie-up with the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Handshakes is able to trawl company registry data to draw links between people and companies and generate a chart that maps out the various layers of legal ownership interests in a company.

The tools Handshakes has created are useful in various areas, including prospecting, client onboarding, background and due diligence checks, and vendor risk management.

Medtech: Buddy Healthcare

Also based in Helsinki, Buddy Healthcare is a care coordination and patient engagement company. The startup aims to solve the “biggest problems” hospitals, clinics and patients are facing in surgeries, including patient adherence to treatment, late cancellations and no-shows, administrative work and care quality. Buddy Healthcare participated in digital health accelerator StartUp Health’s first regional affiliate programme in Finland in November 2015. This gave the startup access to the StartUp investor and company network, regular coaching sessions across the lifetime of a business, and the opportunity for an investment of up to $500,000 once a company reaches certain milestones.

At the Slush Singapore Pitch Competition that was part of SWITCH 2017, Buddy Healthcare also won a cash prize from Philips, as well as the chance to be part of their global accelerators in several key markets where they will connect with their network of top tier stakeholders, researchers and investors.

Fintech: TenX

TenX has created a debit card that instantly converts multiple digital currencies into the fiat money, including the most commonly used currencies of the dollar, the yen and the euro. The startup aims to make digital currencies easier to spend amid volatility and infighting within the cryptocurrency community and takes a small cut from each transaction. Transactions are processed immediately and the startup aims to offer about 11 digital currencies by the end of the year.

Source: JulianHosp.com

Collectively, the TenX team has experience in deep tech, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain research and development, and business operations. Co-founder of TenX, Julian Hosp, shared at Slush Singapore that what he learned from raising $80 million in 7 minutes in a token offering was the importance of transparent and authentic communication in building trust.  

E-commerce marketing: Jumper.ai

Hailing from India, Jumper.ai aims to make social media commerce easier through solutions that help to fully automate and generate sales and leads on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. The idea for Jumper.ai came about when one of the founders was shopping for a wedding gift and found the process of communicating with the sellers to be fragmented and gruelling due to the constant back and forth, long wait times, and inability of merchants to provide product information in a personalised and structured way.

The Jumper.ai process works as follows: upload the product details and choose a hashtag through the Jumper.ai dashboard, then connect your sales channels and post with the hashtag from the Jumper.ai dashboard. As soon as a potential customer comments on the post, the Jumper.ai chatbot automatically engages the customer and walks them through the checkout process. The startup participated in the Startupbootcamp FinTech Program in 2017.

Did you check out any interesting startups at SWITCH?

Share with us in the comments below!

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