UPDATED – Fifteen Known Applicants for Singapore Digital Bank Licences

Grab, Singtel, Razer, Ant Financial, V3 Group, EZ-Link, iFast Corporation, ByteDance, AMTD, Xiaomi, PhillipCapital, Temasek, Enigma Group and Singapura Finance are among applicants.

  • 7 Jan 2020 – included Treasury Consulting Pte Ltd
  • 8 Jan 2020 – included Funding Societies consortium partners and Sea Limited
  • 14 Jan 2020 – included Enigma Group consortium, Arrival, and Singapura Finance-MatchMove Pay consortium
  • 24 Jan 2020 – included Zall consortium and Green Financial-MinIPO group

Twenty-one entities have submitted applications to the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) by the 31 December 2019 deadline for five new digital bank licences.

Below is a list of the known applicants:

1) Grab Holdings and Singtel respectively hold a 60% and 40% stake in a new consortium entity, which is seeking to serve both retail consumers and SMEs under a digital full bank licence.

For Grab, a digital banking business takes the company further beyond its ride-hailing roots, complementing the GrabPay wallet it introduced in 2016 and other financial services solutions it has developed under Grab Financial Group since 2018.

For Singtel, the move into the digital banking space is considered a natural extension of the mobile financial services it already offers.

2) Gaming company Razer Inc has announced its fintech unit is holding a 60% stake in a new consortium, formed with Singaporean entrepreneurs and Asian billionaires to apply for a digital full bank licence.

Razer is looking to leverage on its 70 million-strong user base across its software offerings to cross-sell financial products, including insurance and wealth management products offered by its ecosystem partners, which include Visa, Saxo Markets, SkyScanner and an unnamed airline.

Razer’s five consortium partners include: supermarket chain operator Sheng Siong Holdings, insurance services firm FWD Group, mobile Internet company LinkSure Global Holdings; investment firm Insignia Ventures Partners; and online automotive marketplace Carro.

If approved by MAS, the consortium will enable the setup of Razer Youth Bank, targetting underserved youth and millennials segment, which would complement Razer’s existing payments business.

3) Alibaba-backed Ant Financial, China’s largest online financial company, is seeking a wholesale bank licence as part of a broader global strategy to promote financial inclusion.

Ant’s payments app Alipay and its e-wallet partners had about 900 million annual active users in China and 1.2 billion globally as of June, according to Bloomberg.

4) SGX-listed wealth management fintech iFast Corporation has announced in a regulatory filing that it is leading a consortium of Chinese partners in an application for a digital wholesale bank licence in Singapore.

For iFast, a digital bank licence will enable it to tap on the unique strengths of each consortium member to better address some of the inefficiencies in Singapore’s banking industry and assist underserved segments.

Consortium members include Yillion Group, which operates one of four digital banks in China, and Hande Group, a Chinese fintech company founded by Cao Tong, the former president of Tencent-backed Webank, China’s first digital bank.

5) A consortium called Beyond led by lifestyle and fintech enterprise V3 Group and stored-card operator EZ-Link is seeking a digital full bank licence to serve retail customers and SMEs.

The consortium partners include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, property group Far East Organization, Temasek subsidiary Heliconia, and the Singapore Business Federation, a business chamber representing about 27,000 companies.

6) China’s ByteDance, which owns the popular video-sharing app TikTok, has applied for a wholesale digital bank licence, reported Business Times.

7) A consortium led by AMTD Group, Xiaomi, Singapore government-owned SP Group, and crowdfunding startup Funding Societies has also applied for a digital wholesale bank licence, seeking to connect SMEs to the capital markets, facilitate their development, and improve their efficiency through internet-of-things platforms and smart devices, reported Tech in Asia.

8) Temasek-backed supply chain financing company Sheng Ye Capital – listed in Hong Kong – has partnered with financial conglomerate PhillipCapital, and fintech Advance.AI for a wholesale digital bank licence, reported Business Times.

9) Treasury Consulting Pte Ltd, a privately-held multinational group headquartered in Singapore, has told Regulation Asia it has also applied for a digital wholesale bank licence in Singapore as a stand-alone entity. The company is also seeking digital bank licences in other jurisdictions, including London and Abu Dhabi.

10) New York listed gaming and e-commerce company Sea Limited has announced it has submitted a stand-alone bid for a full bank licence, and is seeking to use its technology, data and corporate governance structure to serve Singapore’s millennials and SMEs.

11) Singapore-based Enigma Group has teamed up with cybersecurity firm Qrypt Technologies, mobile app develop 2359 Media, fintech startup  Blockchain Worx, and UK-based Enigma Global Holdings to apply for a digital full bank licence. The consortium will focus on service underbanked SMEs and the fast-evolving digital workforce, leveraging the partners’ collective expertise in financial services and emerging technologies, Tech in Asia has reported.

12) Arrival, founded and spun off by Russian backed venture capital firm Life.Sreda, has applied for a digital wholesale bank licence, seeking to serve higher-risk customers who usually get turned away from traditional banks. The company is also seeking US and European banking licences, Business Times reports.

13) Finance company Singapura Finance and digital payments startup MatchMove Pay have applied for a digital full bank licence, according to Business Times sources. It is not known if there are more consortium partners.

14) China’s Zall Smart Commerce, Japan’s Marubeni and Singapore’s Global eTrade Services are seeking a wholesale digital banking licence, reports Business Times. Zall has been operating a digital bank in China under the name ‘Z-Bank’ since 2017, serving 12 million SME and retail customers.

15) Green Financial, the investment arm of Chinese state-owned real estate developer Greenland, has teamed up with Chinese financing platform MinIPO to apply for a digital wholesale bank licence, reports finews.asia. The group plans to collaborate with academic institutions on artificial intelligence technology, financial risk management and fintech talent to further the development of digital wholesale banking.

According to reports, a separate consortium comprising OCBC Bank, Keppel Corporation and Validus Capital fell through.

MAS is expected to announce the results of the digital banking applications by mid-2020.

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