MAS confirms 21 applicants vying for Singapore's digital bank licences

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has confirmed that it has received a total of 21 applications for digital bank licences. The government body first announced in June 2019 that it will issue up to two digital full bank (DFB) licences and three digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences. According to MAS, the digital bank licences will allow entities, including non-bank players, to conduct digital banking businesses in Singapore.

The most recent consortium to jump in on the bidding process comprises Singapore-based fintech ADVANCE.AI, financial institution PhillipCapital and Temasek-backed finance company Sheng Ye Capital. ADVANCE.AI's CMO Mi Li said in an article on The Straits Times that bidding for the licence serves as an "opportunity" to positively impact the SMEs in Singapore. According to Li, SMEs do not easily attain credit in bolstering their businesses.

"We hope to be an enabler for Singapore SMEs. The consortium has a shared vision that Singapore SMEs have the capacity to succeed both here and regionally, if they are given the right support and platform for excellence, and we aim to be the one to provide that support," she told Marketing separately. Marketing has reached out to PhillipCapital for comment.

The other bidders include Jack Ma's online financial platform Ant Financial, which aims to expand its presence through this licence. Razer Fintech is also another consortium that has submitted its application for digital bank licence and aims to focus on the underserved youth and millennials segment for the bid. Led by Razer Fintech which will take up a 60% majority stake, the company assembled a consortium comprising Sheng Siong Holdings, FWD, LinkSure Global, Insignia Ventures Partners and Carro.

Meanwhile, ride hailing firm Grab teamed up with Singtel to form a consortium to apply for a digital full bank licence in Singapore. Grab will have a 60% stake in the consortium entity while Singtel will hold a 40% stake. Both parties aim to contribute to the financial services sector with a differentiated offering that addresses the unmet and underserved needs of consumer and enterprise segments in Singapore.

Led by lifestyle fintech company V3 Group and concession card firm EZ-Link, a consortium called "Beyond" has also submitted a bid for a full bank licence. The consortium comprises Singapore Business Federation, Temasek's Heliconia Capital Management, MSIG Insurance, Far East Organisation and a subsidiary of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, according to The Straits Times. In a joint statement in the article said, the consortium group aims to promote connectivity and support local SMEs in bolstering its footprint in Asia.