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Sea, owner of Shopee, makes solo bid for Singapore digital banking license

said its digital bank will focus on addressing the unmet needs of millennials and SMEs.

Sea, Southeast Asia’s consumer internet company and parent of Shopee and Garena, today announced that it has applied for a digital full bank license in Singapore.

Opting to go solo with its application, Sea said in a statement that its digital bank will focus on addressing the unmet needs of millennials and SMEs as these are traditionally underserved segments of the market.

Forrest Li, Sea chairman and group chief executive officer, said that the company is in a good position to drive innovation in financial services, highlighting also that it is an internet company “born and bred” in Singapore.

“Through Garena, Shopee, and SeaMoney, we have unrivalled insight into the needs and wants of millennials and SMEs across the region,” Li said in a statement.

Founded in Singapore in 2009, Sea went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017. The company’s 2019 third quarter results showed a net loss of US$206 million. 

Sea operates Shopee, one of the leading e-commerce marketplaces in Southeast Asia and Taiwan and has capitalized strongly on the growth of its digital entertainment division Garena.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has just announced in a statement on its website that it has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses. These include seven applications for digital full bank licenses and 14 applications for digital wholesale bank licenses, with the majority of applicants being consortiums.