MAS gets 21 applications for up to five digital bank licences, Latest Business News - The New Paper

MAS gets 21 applications for up to five digital bank licences

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Most applications for wholesale bank licences limited to non-retail clients

A total of 21 applications have been submitted for up to five digital bank licences, which could open up more choices for companies and retail customers and change the face of banking here.

Of these, seven bids were submitted for up to two full bank licences that can serve both retail and corporate customers, while 14 applications were made for up to three wholesale bank licences that are limited to non-retail clients.

Applications for the digital bank licences closed on Dec 31 last year.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday the licences "attracted strong interest from a diverse group of applicants", noting that these included e-commerce companies, technology and telecom companies, fintechs and financial institutions.

"The majority of applicants are consortia, with entities seeking to combine their individual strengths to enhance the digital bank's value proposition," MAS said.

Four of the seven applicants for the digital full bank licences have made their applications public.

Internet company Sea, which owns e-commerce company Shopee and gaming developer Garena, announced its bid yesterday.


It is the first known company to be going it alone and will target millennials and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Other groups that previously announced their applications are a tie-up between ride-hailing company Grab and local telco Singtel; a consortium led by gaming company Razer; and Beyond, a six-member team led by Osim founder Ron Sim's V3 Group and stored-value card operator EZ-Link.

Beyond also includes the Singapore Business Federation, Temasek unit Heliconia Capital, property giant Far East Organization and insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance.

Applicants for full bank licences have to be Singapore-based and controlled by Singaporeans.

National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School's Associate Professor Lawrence Loh said that the lower cost base of the digital banks - they would not need a physical presence - meant they would be able to pass on cost savings to customers.

Small firms, with cross-border dealings and large banking costs, are also likely to be big winners in this new landscape, said EY global emerging markets fintech leader Varun Mittal.

Given that 14 of the 21 applications are for wholesale banking licences, this is the segment that most applicants are eyeing.