Asia pacific financial news

Seize-Singtel enterprise, Jack Ma’s Ant Group, tech agency Sea amongst these issued digital financial institution licences in Singapore

SINGAPORE: A three way partnership by Singtel and Seize in addition to know-how agency Sea and Jack Ma’s Ant Group are amongst these which have been chosen for the 4 digital financial institution licences issued by the Financial Authority of Singapore (MAS). 

In an announcement on Friday (Dec 4) night, the Singapore central financial institution stated the Singtel-Seize consortium and an entity wholly owned by Sea Restricted have been awarded the 2 digital full financial institution licences that allow retail banking.

The opposite two licences for digital wholesale banks – which is able to serve small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and different non-retail segments – have been awarded to China’s Ant Group and a consortium comprising Greenland Monetary, Linklogis Hong Kong and Beijing Co-operative Fairness Funding Fund Administration.

MAS stated profitable candidates “should meet all related prudential necessities and licensing pre-conditions” earlier than they are going to be granted with their respective licences.

It added that it expects these new digital banks to begin operations from early 2022.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon stated the central financial institution “utilized a rigorous, merit-based course of to pick a robust slate of digital banks”. 

“We count on them to thrive alongside the incumbent banks and lift the business’s bar in delivering high quality monetary companies, notably for at present under-served companies and people,” he added, noting that they may additional strengthen Singapore’s monetary sector for the long run digital financial system.

READ: Firms vying for digital financial institution licence could face uphill battle, say specialists


On-line-only banks should not new, with such ideas already working in components of Asia similar to China and Japan.

They provide companies that one can count on from standard banks, similar to accepting deposits, loans, facilitating funds and loans, besides that these will probably be carried out on-line as these banks should not have bodily branches.

The MAS first introduced in June final yr that it will concern as much as 5 digital banking licences – two for retail banking and three for wholesale banking – to non-bank gamers, in one of many nation’s largest steps to liberalise its banking sector.

It obtained 21 purposes by end-2019, earlier than whittling it right down to 14 eligible hopefuls six months later.

The evaluation interval for the online-only banks was pushed again to the second half of this yr, as a substitute of June as initially meant, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MAS on Friday stated its evaluation was “performed on a holistic foundation” that took into consideration “all related issues for every criterion”, together with the enterprise mannequin’s worth proposition and incorporation of know-how to serve buyer wants and attain under-served segments.

It additionally took into consideration the eligible candidates’ evaluations of their enterprise plans and assumptions underpinning their monetary projections arising from the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The 2 chosen DFB (digital full financial institution) candidates have been clearly stronger than the opposite eligible DFB candidates,” MAS stated in its press launch. 

“As for the DWBs (digital wholesale financial institution), the 2 chosen candidates met MAS’ expectations and have been assessed to be demonstrably stronger throughout the factors however the final top quality of the eligible candidates,” it added.

Because the digital wholesale financial institution licences are launched as a pilot, MAS stated it “will evaluate whether or not to grant extra of such licences sooner or later”.


In media statements issued after the announcement, Seize and Singtel stated they have been “honoured” and “excited” to be awarded the digital full financial institution licence.

Each firms additionally stated that their mixed experience would assist them serve prospects higher.

“With Seize and Singtel’s mixed expertise in assembly the on a regular basis wants of Singaporeans, in addition to our deep tech experience and data-driven insights, the digital financial institution will additional our aim to empower extra folks to realize higher management of their cash and obtain higher financial outcomes for themselves, their companies and households,” stated Seize CEO Anthony Tan.

Singtel stated that as a home-grown firm, it appears ahead to contributing to an “thrilling digital period of finance”.

“We’re happy to be part of this important milestone, particularly at a time when the pandemic has underscored the significance of digital platforms, making digital banking much more related now to fulfill the on a regular basis wants of our prospects,” stated group CEO-designate Yuen Kuan Moon.

Sea stated in an announcement that its mission is “to higher the lives of customers and small companies by way of know-how”.

“We’re honoured to be chosen by the Financial Authority of Singapore for the award of a digital full financial institution license and to have the chance to supply digital banking companies addressing the under-served monetary wants of younger customers and SMEs in Singapore,” stated chairman and group CEO Forrest Li.

Ant Group stated it has “gathered substantial expertise” over time and confirmed its success, particularly in China the place it’s partnering monetary establishments to serve the wants of SMEs.

“We look ahead to constructing stronger and deeper collaborations with all individuals within the monetary companies business in Singapore, as we work collectively to make monetary companies extra accessible for SMEs whereas supporting native expertise growth within the course of,” it stated in an announcement.

In the meantime one of many contenders Razer Fintech stated its technique of coming into the digital banking enterprise “stays unchanged”, regardless of dropping out on its utility.

The monetary know-how arm of gaming {hardware} agency Razer had shaped a consortium, which incorporates firms similar to Sheng Siong Holdings, insurer FWD and car market Carro, to use for a digital full financial institution licence.

“Whereas we have been hopeful to have the ability to begin our journey right here in Singapore, our technique of extending the Razer Fintech enterprise into digital banking stays unchanged,” stated its chief govt Lee Li Meng, who added that the fintech arm was already “partaking different jurisdictions in parallel” because it awaited the outcomes of the licence in Singapore.

Native banking incumbents DBS and UOB congratulated the profitable candidates in separate media statements on Friday night.

They stated the brand new entrants would add to wholesome competitors within the business and spur business gamers to do higher.

Echoing the sentiment, OCBC stated digital banks are “anticipated so as to add some color to the monetary house however they face an already hyper-competitive setting”. 

It added that the financial institution has made a number of digital improvements and is assured that its present strategy will assist it emerge “even stronger”.

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