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Fintech

Singapore’s four new digital bank licences embrace Chinese and home-grown potential

China has done very well out of Singapore’s new digital banking regime, with Ant and Tencent both represented. Grab and Singtel fly the local flag.

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced the successful applicants for its coveted digital bank licences.

Two digital full bank licences have gone to Sea and a consortium of Grab and Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel).

Two digital wholesale licences went to Ant Group and a consortium of Greenland Financial Holding Group, Linklogis Hong Kong and Beijing Co-operative Equity investment Fund Management.

Here are some immediate thoughts on the new licensees.

1. Grab/Singtel is no surprise at all. Any conversation in Singapore about the likely winners – and there have been many of late, in the absence of much else to talk about bar Covid – has typically started with this consortium before moving on to whom the others might be.

It combines Grab, the leading southeast Asian fintech – along with Gojek, with which it is rumoured to be considering a merger – with Singtel, the Singaporean incumbent telco, in a 60:40 mix.

Grab is already a leading player in financial services in Singapore, offering not just digital wallets but lending and insurance; Singtel’s customer base in Singapore is unrivalled. Both institutions are thoroughly entrenched in the everyday lives of Singaporeans.

We expect them to thrive alongside the incumbent banks
Ravi Menon, MAS
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