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OPINION

Standard Chartered: A matter of Trust

Is a bank called a trust a bank to trust?

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In March, Standard Chartered gave its forthcoming Singapore digital-only bank a name: Trust Bank.

Tricky business, going for trust in a name. Of course, it’s a name you can, well, trust, which is a good thing, though it doesn’t leave a lot of latitude to stuff things up.

But a trust is a legal and financial concept: a legal organization that acts as a fiduciary, agent or trustee on behalf of a person or business. Otherwise Bankers Trust – which provided trust services to customers of banks when it launched in 1903 – would have been a tautology, quite apart from tormenting journalists for a century about whether or not it should have an apostrophe.

Unionist bent

Trust Bank is a joint venture between Standard Chartered and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Singapore’s trade union centre, with StanChart holding 60%. Indeed, its marketing material does carry a sort of unionist bent unusual in the city state, with its nascent website proclaiming: “We are born and raised +65, here to meet the real needs of the people.”

+65, if you’re as confused as we were and thought it meant an age bracket, is Singapore’s international dialling code.

This is StanChart’s second digital bank, after the Mox Bank brand in Hong Kong, which was launched in 2020. Trust Bank was previously known internally as Project Phoenix, which probably wasn’t a long-term goer as a brand, given its reference to a beast that bursts into flames and dies periodically.

The bank received a full banking licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in December 2020 and is, according to its website, “coming soon”, as is its app. We’re not sure when. It’s a matter of trust.

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