Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial said it may apply for a digital banking license in Singapore, which would make it one of the biggest players in the race.
“We are actively looking into this opportunity,” the Chinese company told Bloomberg News in an emailed response.
In July, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said it will issue up to five new digital bank licenses, which will include non-bank players. The new licenses are set to include up to two digital full bank licenses and three digital wholesale bank licenses.
Operators will be authorized to provide a range of financial services and take deposits from retail customers with the digital full bank license. Digital wholesale bank licensees will be allowed to serve small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as other non-retail segments.
Though the Alipay operator did not disclose what type of license it looks to pursue, it will be easier for it to meet the conditions for the wholesale license, according to the report.
Back in May, Ant Financial secured a virtual bank license in Hong Kong. It joined online insurance Zhong An and other financial institutions Livi VB and SC Digital Solution, which received licenses earlier in March.
In Singapore, Southeast Asia’s second-largest lender, OCBC, has tapped Keppel Corp and peer-to-peer lender Validus to apply for a digital wholesale banking license as a group before the year-end application deadline. Singapore-based remittance company Nium, formerly Instarem, recently withdrew from the digital banking license race to focus more on its global payments business.
This article first appeared on Tech in Asia.