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Singapore receives 21 applications for digital bank licenses

Successful licensees will be announced in June this year and are expected to commence business by mid-2021.

Singapore. Photo from Shutterstock.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said 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.

MAS announced last June that it would issue up to two digital full bank licenses and three digital wholesale bank licenses as part of Singapore’s push for the further liberalization of its banking sector.

In the statement, MAS said the process has attracted strong interest from a diverse group of applicants, which include e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, fintech companies, and financial institutions, with the majority of applicants being consortiums.

MAS said it will evaluate all eligible applications based on the “innovative use of technology” and also “contributions to Singapore’s financial center.” Successful licensees will be announced in June this year and are expected to commence business by mid-2021.

Some of the notable names in the race include Grab-SingtelRazer Fintech, which aims to build the world’s first global youth bank — as well as Ant Financial and reportedly TikTok’s mother company Bytedance.

Other Chinese players have also made bids in a move to expand their operations in Southeast Asia, including Yillion Group, Hande Group, Xiaomi Finance.

According to a report on digital financial services published by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, Southeast Asia’s digital lending market is expected to reach US$110 billion by 2025.