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OPINION

The Lawrence Wong’s Mum barometer for Singapore digital banking

There was a touch of edginess in the launch events for two Singapore digital banks, Trust Bank and GSX, on consecutive days this week.

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Singapore’s deputy prime minister and finance minister Lawrence Wong. Photo: Reuters

On August 22, Trust Bank – the digital bank backed by Standard Chartered and Singapore’s FairPrice Group – sent out invitations for its launch event on September 1, held in a pop-up tent outside the Vivo shopping centre.

Two days later, GSX – the new digital bank backed by Grab and SingTel – sent out its own invitation, for the day before Trust Bank’s, at the Grab headquarters in Singapore’s hi-tech One-North business park.

The timing appeared to grate slightly with the Trust Bank team, who were quick to allude to the fact that GSX’s launch event came several days before the actual launch of its app, which would come five days later.

Judy Hsu, Standard Chartered’s chief executive of consumer, private and business banking, announced from the stage what customers of Trust could look forward to “starting today, September 1, not September 5,” to rapturous whoops from the assembled crowd.

Big guns

The two are slightly different operations – GXS is a newly licensed digital entity, while Trust is under a full banking licence – but there was clearly a sense of competition between them, the more so since there is no sign of the other digital retail bank licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore last year, from Tencent-backed Sea Group, getting anywhere near a launch of its own.

Not